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SUNY Potsdam Chemistry Professor Fadi Bou-Abdallah Awarded Grant from National Institutes of Health

September 25, 2019

SUNY Potsdam Chemistry Professor Dr. Fadi Bou-Abdallah Receives $414,047 Grant Award from the National Institutes of Health

Dr. Fadi Bou-Abdallah, a professor in the Department of Chemistry at SUNY Potsdam, has received a grant award from the National Institutes of Health for $414,047.

The NIH Academic Research Enhancement Award grant will fund Bou-Abdallah's project, titled "Effect of Ferritin Subunit Composition on Iron Core Formation, Morphology and Iron Mobilization: Physical Characterization and Physiological Relevance," for the next three years (from 2019 to 2022).

Through this research, Dr. Bou-Abdallah seeks to understand how ferritin, the major iron storage protein in mammals, plays a crucial role in iron mineralization and housekeeping.

“Improper iron mineralization has been suggested to contribute to the progression of diseases, and a number of studies have found abnormal brain iron and ferritin levels in neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's disease and Friedreich’s ataxia,” Bou-Abdallah said. 

These abnormalities have been discussed in terms of a loss of ferritin’s ability to maintain iron homeostasis, leading to ferritin and iron deposits in brain tissues. The proposed research will help to define the molecular origins of these debilitating diseases, and provide fundamental insights into the biochemical processes responsible for iron-related disorders and neurodegenerative diseases, Bou-Abdallah said. The results would also facilitate exploitation of ferritin as a nanotemplate, for uses in nanochemistry, nanobiology and nanomedicine.

“It is a great honor to be recognized by NIH for the wonderful science we do at SUNY Potsdam with our undergraduates. This grant award would not have been possible without our students’ dedication and hard work, and represents a culmination of years of excellence in undergraduate teaching and research,” Bou-Abdallah said. “Support of undergraduate research at small institutions like ours is extremely important. The majority of students who receive bachelor’s degrees in our department go on to earn doctorates and/or medical degrees. Undergraduate research is a fundamental part of their education at SUNY Potsdam, and one of the high-impact learning practices they encounter here.”

Bou-Abdallah plans to work with SUNY Potsdam undergraduates over the next three academic years and summers to complete the project. The students will be involved in all aspects of this research and be exposed to interdisciplinary research at the interface of chemistry, biology and materials science. They will also get a chance to travel to the University of Pennsylvania and work with experts in the fields of biosciences and materials science, and use a powerful scanning transmission electron microscope that provides images down to the atomic level, the first of its kind in the United States.

The National Institutes of Health is the leading supporter of biomedical research in the world. It is the nation’s medical research agency, whose mission is to seek fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and the application of that knowledge to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce illness and disability. To learn more, visit www.nih.gov.

SUNY Potsdam’s Department of Chemistry offers a rigorous and well-balanced curriculum that provides a solid foundation for successful graduate study or a career in chemistry or a chemistry-related field. The department is known for its strong and diverse undergraduate research programs, its $2 million in grants to support teaching and research, and the success of its students’ acceptance to competitive graduate and professional schools. To find out more, visit www.potsdam.edu/academics/AAS/Chem.

About SUNY Potsdam:

Founded in 1816, The State University of New York at Potsdam is one of America’s first 50 colleges—and the oldest institution within SUNY. Now in its third century, SUNY Potsdam is distinguished by a legacy of pioneering programs and educational excellence. The College currently enrolls approximately 3,600 undergraduate and graduate students. Home to the world-renowned Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam is known for its challenging liberal arts and sciences core, distinction in teacher training and culture of creativity. To learn more, visit www.potsdam.edu.

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