Science Market Update

Boulder Researcher Awarded $3.7 Million to Study Zinc in the Human Body

Posted by Laura Braden on Wed, Jan 14, 2015

Every year, the National Institutes of Health gives out the NIH Director's Pioneer Award to deserving researchers working on biomedical and behavioral research projects with innovative approaches to challenging problems. In 2014, 10 awards were given out to researchers at different institutions around the country.

Zinc is essential in many biological functions.

One of these researchers is Amy Palmer from the University of Colorado, Boulder who received a 5 year, $3.7 million grant to support her research titled, Regulation of Cell Signaling by Transition Metal Dynamics. For her research, Dr. Palmer is studying the health effects that different metals have in the human body, with an emphasis on studying zinc.    

There are many different metals that are essential in keeping humans healthy, like iron and copper. It is common knowledge that iron is vital to human health and an iron deficiency can lead to many health problems. Another important, but less understood metal, for human health is zinc. Zinc is used throughout many biological functions in the human body, and zinc is believed to bind many proteins in the creation of cells. Along with being beneficial in creating cells, tissue, and helping to build the human genome, a lack of zinc, like a lack of iron, can cause illness and disease like diabetes, cancer, and neurodegenerative disorders. (Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons) 

Palmer explained that "learning how zinc interacts in the cell may fundamentally change how we think about cellular regulation and how nutrition affects organisms."

With the assistance of this $3.7 million NIH award, Dr. Palmer will study how zinc functions in cells by studying how it affects the function of proteins, metabolism, and gene expressions. With a better understanding of the effects that zinc has within the body, further research could help identify the changes of zinc as different illnesses progress to lead to better and earlier identification of these diseases. 

This NIH grant will help life science researchers study the effects transition metals have on human health.

Transition metals (Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)


Along with receiving $3.7 million from the NIH for this research project, the University of Colorado, Boulder received $41.8 million in life science funding from the NIH in the 2014 fiscal year. The following research departments received substantial amounts of this funding to support research labs and projects. 

  • Biochemistry - $9.9 million
  • Chemistry - $7.4 million
  • Engineering - $6.3 million
  • Genetics - $4.8 million

As a growing research marketplace in terms of the amount of funding received and research projects produced and published, the University of Colorado, Boulder provides great opportunities to market lab supplies to well-funded life science researchers. 

The upcoming 17th Annual BioResearch Product Faire™ Event at the University of Colorado, Boulder on June 17, 2015 will provide life science supply companies with the chance to meet with over 100 researchers, lab managers, purchasing agents, and professors on the Boulder campus. Sales reps will be able to discuss and demonstrate their lab products with interested researchers interested in finding new tools and equipment to use in their research labs. 

To learn more about exhibiting lab supplies at this Boulder event, visit the link below: 

Exhibit in  Boulder, CO


Researchers in the Boulder area are also invited to attend this event to find new lab products to help with research. Visit the link below to learn more about attending this event, and to pre-register:

Researchers Looking to Attend Boulder, Event


Tags: Southwest, University of Colorado Boulder, 2015, BioResearch Product Faire Event, CO, Boulder, UCO, Zinc, transition metals, gene expression

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