School of Medicine receives $7.6 million grant

This is the second-largest grant the school has received this year.

MU received a $7.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to create a botanical research center, according to a news release Thursday.

The grant will fund research by 20 investigators studying the positive and negative effects of botanical dietary supplements and how botanical antioxidants help combat disease, the release stated. MU was one of five universities to receive a grant, in addition to the University of Illinois at Chicago, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Wake Forest University Health Sciences and the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge.

Botanical studies will be broken down into three research areas: prostate cancer, boosting the immune system and preventing damage from stroke, Dennis Lubahn, principal investigator for the botanical project, stated in the news release.

Lubahn will serve as the project leader for the prostate cancer research. Biochemistry professor Grace Sun will be the project leader for researching stroke damage and Kevin Fritsche, who teaches animal sciences and nutrition at MU, will be the project leader for researching the immune system. Lubahn said Wendy Applequist of the Missouri Research Botanical Garden and Andy Thomas, professor and researcher at MU's Southwest Center, will also be contributing to the research with studies of new plants, among other things.

"NIH knows that tens of millions of people go to the health food stores when modern medicine can't help them," Lubahn said. "But, those have not been tested by modern techniques."

MU will receive more than $1 million a year from the grant over a span of five years. The money will pay for some of the employees' salaries, time and materials as well as additional technicians.

This is the second-largest grant the MU School of Medicine has received this year, Lubahn said. The university previously received $8.6 million from the National Institutes of Health's National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute in June to explore the role of tiny vessels in cardiovascular diseases.

Rich Gleba, director of external relations for the MU School of Medicine, said the grant signifies the success of MU's medical school.

"This grant is just the latest example of a long history of success in botanical research in the med school and across campus," he said. "It also will elevate our status and reputation nationally and internationally and allow us to make further contributions to the improvement of human health."

Lubahn said he received help from five graduate students to help write the grant, including Sara Drenkhahn, Glenn Jackson, Yuan Lu, Nicholas Starkey and Hui Lin.

"As I've gone through in preparing a grant of my own to submit, having had that experience in being involved in writing a grant makes it a little more familiar and a little less daunting," said Jackson, a PhD student studying Pathobiology. "Having gone through this process has made it easier for me now, and I think it will make it easier in the future for writing my own grants. It was a stressful time but it was good, in a way, because we worked together."

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