Biology professors John Golin and Ann K. Corsi are recent recipients of highly competitive National Institutes of Health (NIH) awards totaling $470,000 and $442,000, respectively. The three-year awards will support graduate student and undergraduate student projects in the professor's research laboratories.
Golin’s research relies on a combination of genetics and biochemistry to understand how defects in cells create broad resistance to antibiotics and cancer chemotherapeutic agents. His work uses baker’s yeast, a well-established model organism for the study of basic cellular functions.
Corsi uses the tiny nematode Caenorhabditis elegans as a model organism to understand the molecular basis of genetic disorders that disrupt embryonic development. The work in both laboratories has implications for human health since there are similarities among the genes and cellular processes in yeast, nematodes, and humans. “The NIH wants research that makes a connection between science and health,” says Golin.
Corsi and Golin co-designed a yearlong sophomore laboratory course that trains biology majors to do rigorous, quantitative, independent research in molecular and cellular biology using the organisms that are studied in the professors’ laboratories. Many biology majors then choose to join laboratories in the biology department for their junior and senior years to work on independent research.
“This independent research gives students the ability to work on quality projects right here on our campus instead of trying to apply to other research programs in other schools,” says Corsi. “This research experience prepares them for when they apply to medical school or graduate school or for employment in a research laboratory.”
In addition to their enthusiasm for the proposed research, the NIH review panels noted the investigators’ strong abilities to train undergraduate scientists who are often able to publish their work in top-tier journals.
“How successful you are in mentoring the undergraduates is part of the review process that gets evaluated by the NIH judges. To get two grants in the same funding cycle says a lot about our school and us,” says Golin.
Corsi joined the biology department in 2001. This award is her third NIH proposal to be funded. Golin has been at Catholic University for 32 years and is the recipient of 6 NIH and 3 NSF multi-year awards.