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University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center
Publish Date: 12/02/98
Media Contact: AHC Public Relations, (513) 558-4553
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UC Medical Center Brings Scientific Research to Cincinnati Public Schools

Cincinnati--Gary Dean, PhD, University of Cincinnati (UC) associate professor of molecular genetics, biochemistry, and microbiology, is the principal investigator for a three-year Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) from the National Center for Research Resources of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Nearly $800,000 from SEPA will be used to form a partnership between the UC College of Medicine and teachers and students in the Cincinnati Public Schools. The partnership brings scientists into the classroom to collaborate with students on yeast mutants research.

By studying the cellular processes of yeast cells that are similar to those in human brain cells, the researchers will attempt to foster the studentís interest in science. The scientists will work with the science teachers to compile and present stimulating, hands-on, inquiry-based lessons that also meet national standards of education. Other UC Medical Center researchers involved with the project include: Michele C. Barton, PhD, assistant professor of molecular genetics; Kenneth Blumenthal, PhD, professor of molecular genetics; Joanna Groden, PhD, assistant professor of molecular genetics; Catherine Saelinger, PhD, professor of molecular genetics; James Stringer, PhD, professor of molecular genetics; and Alison Weiss, PhD, associate professor of molecular genetics. Terry McCollum, EdD, Cincinnati Public Schools, will coordinate the UC researchersí efforts with the participating teachers and students.

In preparation for this project, the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation provided a $19,500 grant for UC researchers to train 10 community teachers in basic cell biology and in the methods used in the experiments. The experiments are designed to generate and characterize yeast mutants in a poorly understood but important large membrane-bound proton-pumping enzyme called the vacuolar ATPase (V-ATPase). Students will then isolate the (plasmid-borne) gene from each mutant after proving phenotype and send it to a UC lab for sequence determination. The results will be shared with the students.

"The project strives to foster a spirit of scientific inquiry in students by involving them directly in real scientific research," says Dean. One NIH reviewer noted, "Dean has demonstrated an enthusiastic commitment to this program and a level of excitement that should prove infectious." The project will strive to extend the mission of the Cincinnati Urban Systemic Initiative, which attempted to improve science literacy and engender the interest needed by students to pursue careers in science-related fields.

For more information about this program, contact Gary Dean, PhD, by phone at (513) 558-0065, by email at, or by fax at (513) 558-8474.

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