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Slugs a home run with NIH
Date:6/17/2009

VIRGINIA KEY, Fla. -- The National Resource for Aplysia at the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science has had its resources grant with the National Institute for Health (NIH) extended for an additional five years. The National Resource for Aplysia is the only facility in the world that cultures and raises Aplysia californica, commonly known as sea hares or sea slugs. Over the course of the next five years, the facility will receive $2.7 million from the NIH to raise these animals, which are used to study the basic mechanisms of memory and learning while providing insight into diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

Aplysia californica are annual animals, and due to varying climatic conditions in the wild, there are times during the year when Aplysia of known age or stage are not readily available. The NIH-funded National Resource for Aplysia dramatically increases the availability of these animals and provides scientists with animals of all sizes, and of similar genetic lines.

"The animals reared here at the University of Miami are native to the Pacific Ocean, and they are sent all over the world to scientists as far away as Israel, Japan and Sweden," said Dr. Michael Schmale, Marine Biology and Fisheries Professor and Principal Investigator on the awarded grant. "The relatively simple neurological system of Aplysia provides an optimum model in which research on genomics, human brain function, toxicology for developmental studies, substance addiction and nerve senescence and regeneration can be conducted."

One of the researchers benefiting from this state-of-the-art facility is Marine Biology and Fisheries Associate Professor and Co-Principal Investigator, Professor Lynne Fieber. She and her students are studying aging, and are interested in Alzheimer's disease and how the function of cells within the brain change when an animal ages.

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Contact: Barbra Gonzalez
barbgo@rsmas.miami.edu
305-421-4704
University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science
Source:Eurekalert  

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Slugs a home run with NIH
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