Aug 16th, 2004 @ 11:08 am | Author:
Valley City State University (VCSU) announced that it has been awarded a grant in the amount of $1.5 million over five years by the National Institutes of Health. The grant was awarded as part of the IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE), a NIH program that provides support to research institutions for building and strengthening research infrastructure and increasing capacity to conduct cutting-edge biomedical and behavioral research. VCSU plans to use the funding for continued development of its Health Sciences baccalaureate program and student centered research program.

INBRE grants are intended to strengthen the science departments of undergraduate institutions in order to provide graduate schools with an on-going supply of high-quality students and attract biomedical industries. The grants are awarded to institutions that have already received a Biomedical Research Infrastructure Network (BRIN) grant from the NIH, a program that serves as a planning grant for INBRE. VCSU was awarded a $70,000 BRIN grant in 2001, and has used this funding for establishing a new tenure track faculty position and such activities as developing a Health Science major program and a research infrastructure.

The Health Science program at VCSU is designed for students who intend to pursue a degree at a professional or graduate school in any of several health sciences including medicine, nursing, physical therapy, dentistry, optometry, chiropractic, veterinary and biomedical research.

The INBRE funding will be used to strengthen and establish two major research programs. In one project, led by Dr. Andre DeLorme, the macroinvertebrate laboratory at VCSU is being used to study the potential effects of various herbicides on macroinvertebrate species. The presence or absence of certain species in a given ecosystem can be used as an indicator of water quality. His project will test for the presence of the pesticide Atrazine in the Sheyenne and Wild Rice Rivers in North Dakota and examine the effects it may have on their ecosystems.

In another project, Dr. Hilde van Gijssel is using the newly established biomedical laboratory to study the mechanism by which high concentrations of the herbicide chlorophenoxy may increase the chance of birth defects. Fruit flies will be used as a model organism because of similarities between their genetic structure and that of humans. Dr. van Gijssel says "This project is intended to help us understand the mechanism of action so we can design better and safer herbicides. Understanding the mechanism by which herbicides affect birth defects will enable us to design protection or find less toxic alternatives."