Wednesday, Sep. 8, 2010 11:30 am


GRINNELL, IA—Grinnell College neurobiologist Clark Lindgren and student researchers expect that their ongoing research into chemical synapses may contribute to better understanding of neurological diseases such as muscular dystrophy, thanks in part to a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The $351,000, three-year NIH grant will support summer research by Lindgren and Grinnell students, as well as the addition of a professional technician to continue the research throughout the academic year. The neurobiological research, which Lindgren describes as the study of “neurotransmitter release,” uses muscle tissue to study processes common to synapses found in all animals, including humans.

“Neurons communicate with one another and target cells in the body, such as muscle cells, at junctions called chemical synapses,” Lindgren said. “The electrical signals carried by neurons are communicated to other cells by releasing chemicals called neurotransmitters.

“Understanding exactly how this process happens is a major goal of neuroscience research. Having this knowledge will help us better understand our learning abilities as humans—how to perceive the world, to think, to feel, and to act. This study may also help us understand potential new therapies for neurological diseases.”

NIH funds studies like the Grinnell neurobiology research that support the advancement of knowledge to meet the NIH mission of extending healthy lives and reducing the burdens of illness and disability. The project described is supported by Award Number 1R15NS072735-01 from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke or the National Institutes of Health.

The Grinnell research is conducted in the college’s Robert N. Noyce ’49 Science Center, named for the alumnus, Intel founder and co-inventor of the microchip. Approximately one-third of Grinnell students graduate with a major in science. Many continue into some of the top graduate programs in the country; in fact, Grinnell ranks 8th per capita among all U.S. colleges and universities in producing graduates who later complete Ph.D.s in the sciences.

Grinnell College is a nationally recognized, private, four year, liberal arts college located in Grinnell, Iowa. Founded in 1846, Grinnell enrolls 1,600 students from all 50 states and from as many international countries in more than 26 major fields, interdisciplinary concentrations, and pre-professional programs.