IUPUI Professor Awarded Four Year, $1.25 Million Grant to Study Gene Expression in Optic Nerve to Understand Brain Injury, Disease

Release Date: 
Jan 27 2010


Indianapolis, IN, Jan. 27, 2010 – According to the Centers for Disease Control, millions of Americans are affected by brain injury and brain disease each year. In an effort to better understand the brain’s reaction to injury and disease, the National Institutes of Health’s National Eye Institute recently awarded Teri Belecky-Adams, assistant professor of developmental biology at Indiana University – Purdue University School of Science, a four year, $1.25 million grant to study the development of cells and specific gene expressions in astrocytes present in the optic nerve.

Found in every kind of brain disease and brain injury, astrocytes cells make it difficult for the brain to heal and to overcome injury or disease. By understanding what kind of factors regulate certain gene expressions in astrocytes cells in the optic nerve, scientists gain a deeper knowledge of brain injuries and the brain’s response to disease and injury. 

“We are specifically interested in the development of cell type and factors that might regulate how a cell gets transformed into reactive astrocytes, inhibiting the brain’s response to injury and disease,” said Belecky-Adams. “Studying the expressions in the optic nerve will give us results that will be applicable to other cell types throughout the body.”

The study is a collaborative effort between the IU Center for Regenerative Biology and Medicine, scientists within the IU School of Medicine, and researchers at the University of Wisconsin, and will engage undergraduate, graduate and post doctoral students in research. Primarily focused on neurobiology, Belecky-Adams’ works focuses on understanding the roles of proteins, known as the TGF-Beta family of growth factors, in the eye. By understanding the mechanisms of cells in the eye, scientists will one day be able to understand and apply this knowledge to eradicate congenital defects and treat injured or degenerating neurons, like those present when injury or disease occurs.

Belecky-Adams received her B.S. from the University of Wyoming and earned her Ph.D. from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine studying psychology, neuroscience, cell biology and anatomy. She has secured nearly $4 million in grant awards for research in the field of regenerative biology and neurobiology. For more information about this project and other related initiatives at the School of Science, go to science.iupui.edu