W. M. Keck Science Professor Tang awarded National Institute of Health grant to expand student research

Professor Irene Tang
W.M. Keck Professor Zhaohua Irene Tang

Professor Zhaohua Irene Tang has been awarded a $412,415 National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant to study cancer and other disease prevention and expand undergraduate research opportunities at W.M. Keck Science Department of Claremont McKenna, Scripps and Pitzer colleges.

The NIH grant comes through the Academic Research Enhancement Award program, which is offered to institutions that do not traditionally receive NIH funds. The goal is to increase hands-on research opportunities and enhance the research culture on campus.

Over the three-year grant cycle, Tang’s research laboratory will create multiyear research experiences for 12-15 students interested in public health and health-related fields. A biology professor in the Keck Science Department, Tang mentors four to six research students a year; more than 100 have worked in her lab since 2001.

“The Keck Science Department has very intelligent, self-motivated students who function at a surprisingly high level in research labs,” Tang wrote in the grant proposal. “In the absence of Master’s or PhD students, undergraduates at the Keck Science Department step up to the challenge of taking on their own projects and interpreting results from sophisticated experiments.”
The grant comes from the NIH’s General Medical Sciences branch, which focuses on disease diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. Tang’s project “Novel Functions of LAMMER-related Kinases in Gene Expression,” seeks to understand and prevent human diseases like cancer and hepatitis B viral infection.

– Michael Tesauro