Two Sigma Xi Grant-in-Aid of Research Awards for finding new retinal-degeneration drugs
In June 2019, Emre Coskun and Rebecca James from the Leung lab were each awarded a Sigma Xi Grant-in-Aid of Research, a very competitive grant program for undergraduate students. Both Emre and Becca participate in the lab’s core research on finding new drugs for retinal degeneration. In their projects, Emre and Becca expose zebrafish larvae with retinal-degeneration to different drug compounds. They then evaluate how much each drug can improve the vision of the retinal-degeneration larvae. In Emre’s proposal, he will screen a library of drugs that modulate apoptosis/program cell death to find drugs that may stop retinal cells from dying. In Becca’s proposal, she will screen a library of drugs that are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating other human diseases. If an FDA-approved drug is also effective on retinal degeneration, it can be prescribed off label to the patients at the doctor’s discretion. Becca’s and Emre’s projects are supervised by Logan Ganzen, a graduate student in our lab who led our drug-screening effort. In recognition of their achievements, Becca and Emre are also nominated to become an associate member of Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society.