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CURCA Funds Student’s Biochemistry Research

Published February 28, 2013

An exchange student investigating the metabolic exchange that occurs between myelin and axons has received an award from the  Center for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (CURCA).

Gustavo Della Flora Nunes, a scholar with Brazil’s Science Without Borders program, conducts research with M. Laura Feltri, MD, professor of biochemistry and neurology.

Shedding Light on Axonal Damage

Nunes’ research could help scientists design protection for axons in demyelinating disorders like multiple sclerosis.

He is studying what happens to axons when the metabolism of its surrounding glial cells is damaged. His research involves eliminating a crucial energy-producing component in myelinating glia.

Myelin, made by glial cells, is the fatty sheath surrounding an axon, the part of a neuron that transmits impulses away from the cell body. Scientists believe that myelin cells provide nutrients and energy to neurons.

Cooperative Effort

Mulchand S. Patel, PhD, SUNY Distinguished Professor and UB Distinguished Professor of biochemistry, is a collaborator on the research. He is associate dean for research and biomedical education.

Yannick Poitelon, a postdoctoral fellow in Feltri’s lab, is another collaborator.

Feltri, Nunes' mentor, is a principal investigator for the Hunter James Kelly Research Institute.

$500 Awards Support Undergraduate Research

CURCA offers $500 awards to pay for supplies, conference fees or other related needs for undergraduate research and creative activities.

The center accepts award applications on a rolling basis throughout the year. For consideration, the student’s project must be advertised on the CURCA website. Research mentors working with undergraduates are encouraged to submit research opportunity postings online.