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Biology Professor Receives NIH INBRE Research Grant

CONWAY, Ark. (November 22, 2013) – Hendrix biology professor Dr. Andrew Schurko recently received a research grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Idea Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE).

The grant, which provides $200,000 through May 2015, will fund Schurko’s research project titled "Characterization of genes involved in DNA repair in bdelloid rotifers."

“In our research, we use a microscopic animal (the bdelloid rotifer) to study the genes and proteins involved in DNA repair. Bdelloid rotifers are an exceptional model for studying DNA repair because they can survive doses of radiation that are lethal to humans,” Schurko said. “My research will identify genes and proteins in bdelloids that function in DNA repair system following exposure to high levels of ionizing radiation. The outcome of this work will have implications for human health. For example, repairing DNA damage is necessary to treat certain human disorders and to recover from therapies (e.g. treating cancer with radiation) that cause DNA damage. The majority of the genes we study in bdelloids are found in humans, which will inform our understanding how homologous mechanisms can be inhibited and manipulated in humans.”

The work will be done at Hendrix with the help of undergraduate research students in the Biology Department and Biochemistry Molecular Biology program and in collaboration with Dr. Alan Tackett (University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences), Dr. Marjan Boerma (UAMS) and Dr. Bill Etges (University of Arkansas Fayetteville).

 “This grant not only provides the resources to pursue an intriguing question using cutting-edge techniques, but also many opportunities for Hendrix students to become engaged in undergraduate research,” Schurko said. “The enthusiasm for research on campus allows me the luxury of having first-rate students gain hands-on research experience in my lab during the summer and academic year.”

“I will also incorporate aspects of this project into my laboratory courses,” he added. “In doing so, an entire class can explore a unique question with an unpredictable outcome and, in the process, benefit from a genuine research experience.”

Founded in 1876, Hendrix College is a national leader in engaged liberal arts and sciences education. For the sixth consecutive year, Hendrix was named one of the country’s “Up and Coming” liberal arts colleges by U.S. News and World Report.  Hendrix is featured in the latest edition of Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think about Colleges, as well as the 2014 Princeton Review’s The Best 378 Colleges, Forbes magazine's list of America's Top Colleges, and the 2014 Fiske Guide to Colleges. Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. For more information, visit