A biochemist from Stony Brook University has scored a $2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of General Medical Sciences, or NIGMS.
The grant will enable Benjamin Martin, an associate professor in the university’s Department of Biochemsitry and Cell Biology and a member of the university’s Cancer Center, to study the molecular and cell biology of neuromesodermal progenitors. These are stem cells that contribute to spinal cord or skeletal muscle development.
With the grant, Martin and his colleagues aim to more clearly define and observe neuromesodermal progenitors. The lab plans to advance an understanding of the vertebrate body plan via zebrafish embryos and provide insights to understand stem cell biology and mechanisms of cancer metastasis.
Martin and colleagues observe zebrafish to demonstrate how differentiated neurons and muscle expand as embryos grow. Neuromesodermal progenitors exist in all vertebrate embryos, so zebrafish are used as a common model to these cells’ development to better define how the embryonic body plan is formed and how spinal cord and skeletal muscle are induced from this population.
Martin’s NIGMS grant is called the Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award (MIRA), under the category of supporting established scientific investigators. This distinction recognizes the importance of the lab’s research, and reinforces their efforts to reach a breakthrough in this area of cell biology.
NIGMS supports fundamental studies that shed light on biological processes and catalyze advancements in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of diseases. It also leads efforts to train the next generation of scientists, promote diversity in the workforce, and expand research capacity nationwide.