ALRI Awards Funds to Faculty to Address Neurodegenerative Diseases

Lukasz Ciesla
Dr. Lukasz Ciesla

There are no cures for many neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Research designed to elucidate target mechanisms as well as drug discovery research are important and are areas The University of Alabama is seeing grow.

The President’s Support Fund for Faculty Development, Innovation and Research, supported by the Merrymac-McKinley Foundation, is managed by the Alabama Life Research Institute. ALRI’s mission is to lead interdisciplinary bio-psychosocial research that seeks to investigate the human condition at all levels, from the molecular to the environmental.

In support of the goals of the President’s Support Fund, ALRI directed awards to promising junior faculty doing research in the area of neurodegenerative diseases, with the objective to both accelerate possible discoveries and to position the faculty to be highly competitive for future grant support from the National Institutes of Health.

Promising faculty members Dr. Lukasz Cielsa, assistant professor of biological sciences, along with his collaborator Dr. Yuping Bao, associate professor of chemical and biological engineering, and Dr. Stanislava Chtarbanova-Rudloff, assistant professor of biological sciences, will use funds awarded to support basic science research in the area of neurodegeneration.

Ciesla and Bao received $25,000 from the Merrymac-McKinley Foundation to support their research exploring neuroprotective therapy to activate and restore neural function for Alzheimer’s disease by using plant extracts and synthetic nanoparticles. Ciesla searches for compounds found in plants likely to have neuroprotective qualities while Bao tests the efficacy of these drugs using nanotechnology screening.

In addition, the Merrymac-McKinley Foundation also awarded Chtarbanova-Rudloff $25,000 for her research on the cause of Alzheimer’s disease. She hypothesizes plaques and tangles in the brain characteristic of Alzheimer’s is the result of an out of control immune response by antimicrobial peptides.

Learn more about the ALRI awards by reading the full article on the UA News site.