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Two in Popescu Lab Receive National Research Service Grants

Published August 29, 2012

Postdoctoral fellow Teresa Aman and neuroscience PhD candidate Meaghan Paganelli have received Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Awards from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Both work in the lab of Gabriela K. Popescu, PhD, associate professor of biochemistry.

Research Examines Impact on Synaptic Plasticity

Aman was among only a quarter of the more than 2,000 applicants to receive the postdoctoral fellowship from the National Institutes of Health.

She will use the $155,000 grant to investigate the mechanism by which intracellular kinases, in particular protein kinase A (PKA), increases NMDA receptor channel function.

Previous literature demonstrates a role for this modulation in synaptic plasticity, tying the research to mechanisms of learning and memory.

Aman has a doctorate in neuroscience from Northwestern University and a Bachelor of Science degree in neuroscience and psychology from Allegheny College.

Providing Insight into Chronic Pain Syndromes

Paganelli, a fourth-year PhD candidate, was one of only 20 percent of applicants to receive the predoctoral fellowship. The $54,000 award supports her research into the actions of local anesthetics on NMDA receptors.

In particular, Paganelli is examining the action of bupivacaine, a local anesthetic widely used in clinical practice. She has discovered that it acts as a more effective inhibitor when cells are hyperpolarized and is investigating this novel finding in more detail.

Her work seeks to provide insight into chronic pain syndromes and pain hypersensitivity following surgery or trauma.

Paganelli holds a Bachelor of Science degree in neuroscience from the University of Rochester.