Tuesday, May 11, 2021
UNCW Assistant Professor Jacob Warner received $ 413,836 grant from the National Institutes of Health to study cell movements during embryonic development of sea urchins.
Warner and his research team will examine how a group of genes regulate complex early developmental processes called “epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition”, which ultimately result in gastrulation and the formation of multiple tissues in the developing embryo.
“This award demonstrates the role that marine model systems can play in advancing our understanding of basic cellular processes and their intersection with human health,” said Warner, who joined UNCW in 2019 after completing a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Nice, France.
Warner noted that some of the most important discoveries in cell biology and embryology come from sea urchins, including how cells divide, the mechanics of fertilization, and how tissue is built in a developing embryo.
“While our particular study system is a developing sea urchin embryo, these same cellular movements occur in a variety of settings such as when immune cells migrate to the site of injury or when cancer cells invade them. surrounding tissues, ”he said. “By better understanding how these cellular movements are coordinated at a fundamental level, we can hopefully better treat the diseases in which they play a role.”
Heather Koopman, chair of the Department of Biology and Marine Biology, said the award speaks volumes about the quality of the faculty hired and the experiences they will provide to UNCW students. The grant provides resources to support and train graduate and undergraduate students.
“This is a very prestigious grant and it is particularly impressive that Dr. Warner awarded it because it is quite early in his career,” said Koopman.
“Our research is interdisciplinary and involves undergraduate students working on everything from computational modeling and bioinformatics to molecular biology,” Warner said. “These skills are in high demand in the biomedical and biotechnology sectors, and a key objective of this project is to train students for careers in these fields.
The research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under the award number R15GM139113. The content is the sole responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.