Ferrum News

Ferrum College Professor Receives Grant for Alzheimer's Research.


 Megan St. Peters, Ph.D. received the grant for her work on attention disorders in the brain.

Ferrum, Va. (August 30, 2012) – Ferrum College announced today that Megan M. St. Peters, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology, has been awarded a grant in the amount of $39,940 from Alzheimer's and Related Diseases Research Award Fund (ARDRAF) for her work on attentional impairments in the brain.

St. Peters’ research, entitled Who Forgot the Hippocampus? Potential Involvement in the Neural Circuitry of Attentional Control, explores the relationship between important stimuli and irrelevant stimuli to the brain with respect to an individual’s ability to remember properly.  Dr. St. Peters’ project uses a rodent model to examine the influence of the hippocampus section of the brain on performance in cognitive tasks when irrelevant distractors are introduced. 

“There is a strong body of research that suggests that attentional impairments largely contribute to memory problems associated with Alzheimers’ Disease,” said St. Peters.  “We wanted to examine the role of the hippocampus, a brain region commonly associated with memory loss.”

"This sort of translational research is critical to a better understanding of the neurobehavioral substrates underlying cognitive function, its impairment, and the development of better therapeutic treatments.  The ARDRAF subjects applications to a rigorous competitive review process, but the Awards Committee was impressed with the investigator's qualifications.  They were united in their confidence about the likely success of this project. In addition, there is no doubt the project will generate preliminary data that will be helpful in garnering subsequent grant funding," said Constance Coogle Ph.D., Associate Director for Research at the Virginia Center on Aging, which administers the ARDRAF grants.

The grant provides funds for critical equipment and supplies to establish and maintain the new research facilities at the College. It also includes a stipend for students to engage in the research. “This grant will afford a unique opportunity for our students by enabling them to contribute new knowledge to the scientific community,” said St. Peters. “They will also gain skills in the use of cutting edge research equipment, giving them a strong foundation for their entry into post-baccalaureate programs.”

The Alzheimer's and Related Diseases Research Award Fund was established by the Virginia General Assembly in 1982 to stimulate innovative investigations into Alzheimer's disease.   Other institutions receiving ARDRAF funding this year include: The University of Virginia, Marymount University, and two recipients at Virginia Commonwealth University.

“Alzheimer’s Disease is tragic for so many families.  Megan’s interest in this field represents groundbreaking research in the fight against the disease.  We congratulate Megan on the grant which is a testimony to the depth and scope of her work,” said Ferrum College President, Dr. Jennifer L. Braaten.

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