May 26, 2000
Volume XXXIII, No. 21

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UTHSC students receive scholarships for aging research

Health Science Center graduate students Xinlian Chen and Jennifer Stine received a boost in support of their research on aging from the American Federation for Aging Research (AFAR).

Both students were honored with the 2000 Glenn/AFAR Scholarship for Research in the Biology of Aging, a $5,500 stipend to support research costs. The scholarship is given annually to 30 Ph.D. and medical students throughout the country who undertake a three-month research project related to aging. The project must be conducted under the supervision of a faculty mentor.

Applications for the scholarship are selected on the merit and feasibility of the project, the applicant's academic performance, the qualifications of the mentor and the applicant's interest in gerontological issues as demonstrated by course work.

Chen, a graduate student in the Department of Cellular and Structural Biology, is conducting research on the effects of oxidative stress on the aging process and how an increase in anti-oxidant enzymes may reduce pathology, protect against oxidative damage and increase the life span. Her mentor on the project is Dr. Arlan Richardson, director of the Aging Research and Education Center.

Stine, a graduate student in the Department of Biochemistry, is researching the structure of mutations to an enzyme that plays a role in the aging process. The mutated enzyme is linked to familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (FALS), known as Lou Gehrig's disease. As part of her research, Stine will determine the three-dimensional structure of FALS mutant enzymes. Dr. P. John Hart, biochemistry, is her mentor on the project.

As the aging population continues to grow, the Glenn/AFAR Scholarship Program is designed to draw investigators such as Stine and Chen to aging research to provide a better understanding of the process and possible interventions. The program was founded in 1981 and has provided $39 million in support for new investigators conducting biomedical research on the aging process and age-related diseases.