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Louisiana Tech biomedical engineering professor earns recognition, funding for research

RUSTON, La. Dr. Teresa Murray, assistant professor in biomedical engineering at Louisiana Tech University, has received notice from the National Institute of Health (NIH) that her proposal titled "Long Term 3D Imaging of Mouse Brain in Vivo to Study Glial Cells and Gliogenesis" was recognized for excellence and will receive funding.

NIH ranks proposals on a scale from 10 90, with 10 being the best. Murray's proposal received an 11.

Dr. Eric Guilbeau, director of biomedical engineering at Louisiana Tech, says receiving the NIH funding is exceptional. "For a first time NIH grant submission, this is an outstanding accomplishment. It places [Murray's] proposal at the very top of those considered by her NIH Study Section, which is a rare occurrence for a new faculty member, especially in these days of tight funding."

Murray's research focuses on Glial cells, which greatly outnumber neurons in the brain and have active roles in development, modulation of neurotransmission, health and disease. However, relatively little is known about glial cells compared to neurons. Murray is working to create a tool for researchers to discover how glial cells in the brain function and how they are involved in aging and disorders such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.

Murray has created a tiny glass lens with needle-like diameter. Using a microscope to look into the lens, researchers will be able to record the numbers and shapes of the cells by illuminating a fluorescent dye to determine if there are major changes in aging or certain diseases, and if potential treatments return them to a normal state.

The lens will enable Murray and her students and collaborators to resolve fine membrane processes of glial cells as they interact with neurons. This would produce useful information with which to study normal development and aging, or the effects of drug use, neurodegeneration, or injury.

It is hoped that this project will result in a new technology to enable high resolution, three-dimensional, imaging of fluorescently labeled glial cells deep in the brain over the time course of months. This concerted approach will streamline experiments, enable unparalleled comparative analysis, increase confidence in experimental results, and elucidate interactions not possible using multiple, discrete experiments.

Contact: Dave Guerin
Louisiana Tech University

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