UCR Stem Cell Labs Receive 5 New Grants from TRDRP

The Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program of California (TRDRP) awarded five new research grants to UCR students and faculty working with stem cells. Four of the awards began August 1 of this year and one will begin August 1 of 2012.

Ivann Martinez, a PhD student with Dr. Nicole zur Nieden and a member of the Cell Molecular and Developmental Biology graduate program, received a predoctoral fellowship to study the effects of secondhand smoke from conventional cigarettes on the process of osteogenesis. He will be specifically examining sidestream smoke, which burns off the end of a cigarette and which passive smokers and well as active smokers inhale. Ivann will be differentiating osteocytes from human embryonic stem cells and examining the effect of sidestream cigarette smoke on their differentiation. Ivann is also an IIGERT fellow and will bring video bioinformatics analysis tools to this project.

Dr. Sabrina Lin received a postdoctoral fellowship that will fund her research on harm reduction tobacco products for three years. Dr. Lin will be using human embryonic stem cells and human neural stem cells to access the effects of new harm reduction products on prenatal stages of development. There are numerous studies linking tobacco use with reproductive deficits, but little is known about how harm reduction products affect reproduction. Dr. Lin will be examining the potency of new harm reduction products and will also be identifying chemicals in these products that may make them more potent than their conventional tobacco products.

Rachel Behar, a Ph.D student with Dr. Prue Talbot and a member of the Cell Molecular and Developmental Biology graduate program, received a two year Cornelius Hopper Award to support her work on electronic cigarettes. Electronic cigarettes are a new type of nicotine delivery device that work be heating fluid containing nicotine, a humectant, and flavorings. The aerosol created by heating this fluid can be inhaled by the user without having to burn tobacco. Rachel will evaluate the toxicity of fluid and aerosol from electronic cigarettes using human embryonic stem cells, which model one of the earliest stages of prenatal development. Electronic cigarettes are often thought to be less harmful than conventional cigarettes as they contain many fewer chemicals. However few studies have yet directly evaluated the cytotoxicity of electronic cigarettes.

Dr. Prue Talbot, a Professor of Cell Biology and Neuroscience and Director of the UCR Stem Cell Center and Core, received a new grant to evaluate the cytotoxicity of electronic cigarette fluid and aerosol. Her lab will determine if electronic cigarette products affect survival of human embryonic stem cells and will further identify the specific chemicals which are cytotoxic. Dr. Talbot also received funding for a project dealing with thirdhand smoke, which is the smoke residue that adheres to surfaces after conventional tobacco products have been used. A new consortium has begun working on thirdhand smoke in California this year. Dr. Talbot's lab will be part of the consortium and will begin work on this project in 2012.

Posted 8-18-2011

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