Professor receives research grant

Dr. Jana Patton-Vogt 1By Adam Kelly | The Duquesne Duke

The Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Science has received a research grant of $304,000 this spring from the National Institutes of Health to help fund the research of Jana Patton-Vogt’s cell membrane study.

Patton-Vogt, a biochemist and professor at Duquesne, said that the money will be used to support students by providing them with lab supplies and anything else they may need.

The lab focuses on the factors that control cell membranes and why cell membranes are so important to maintain, according to Patton-Vogt. If successful, Patton-Vogt said that the research could have very positive results.

“Long range, this research can help us better understand diseases that affect metabolism like obesity, diabetes and cancer,” Patton-Vogt said.

Patton-Vogt explains that the study has to do with how the cells regulate metabolism. Since these diseases have an effect on metabolism, it is important to study aspects of these membranes.

David Seybert, dean of the Bayer School, believes the research is great for the school because it embodies what the school is all about.

“The research reflects the mission of the Bayer school which is to enhance science knowledge for the betterment of human society, as well as providing opportunity for students to be well prepared for future careers,” Seybert said.

Seybert also said that grants are an important part of what their faculty does, as they need the funding to continue more extensive research in their fields.

Other than Patton-Vogt’s grant, a $431,000 grant was given to Jennifer Aitken, associate professor of chemistry. This grant was given by the National Science Foundation for the study of semiconductors, according to the Duquesne website.

Jean Chin, a program director in the division of cell biology and biophysics at the NIH, said she is very interested in the work Patton-Vogt is doing and made the decision to grant the lab this money for research.

Like Patton-Vogt, Chin’s area of expertise is in cell membranes. Chin said that it is important to know how the cell membrane, which is the outer shell of a cell, functions in the human body. A cell membrane is made up of protein and lipids and the cell membrane is what lets certain things into our body and keeps other things out of our body, according to Chin.

Chin said she found Patton-Vogt’s study interesting because Patton-Vogt is looking at the lipids of cell membranes.

“There is a lot of research being done on protein, but not much being done on lipids, making her research unique,” Chin said.

Chin also said that by learning more about lipids, it will be easier to understand the cell membrane and help it to maintain its proper functions.

Photo courtesy of Jana Patton-Vogt

Caption: Jana Patton-Vogt was given a $304,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health for her research.