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Contact: Stephen J. Hudik

Kean Participates in 2009 Merck/AAAS Undergraduate Science Research Program

UNION - Kean University is one of 14 colleges and universities nationwide that received a 2009 Merck/American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Undergraduate Science Research Program award. The awards were announced in a recent issue of Science magazine.

The Merck/AAAS Undergraduate Science Research Program is a national competitive awards program available in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Up to 15 new awards are made annually. Each award provides up to $60,000 paid over three years for use by the Biology and Chemistry departments at each recipient institution. The funding supports research stipends for undergraduate students and ancillary programs that foster interactions between the departments.

Dr. Jeffrey Toney, Ph.D., dean of the College of Natural, Applied and Health Sciences at Kean University, serves as program director for the project. Four interdisciplinary research projects at Kean University will be supported by the grant. Six faculty researchers will work together with eight undergraduate students. Kean University faculty researchers include Dr. Jeffry Fasick, Dr. Matthew Mongelli and Dr. Farshad Tamari of the Department of Biology and Dr. Jeffrey Toney, Dr. Dale Vitale and Dr. Frederick Lee of the Department of Chemistry.

Two of the research projects supported by the Merck/AAAS URSP grant are New Uses for Old Drugs, which will explore, among other topics, whether any existing drugs are capable of promoting programmed cell death in pancreatic and colon tumor cell lines. Another topic is Tumor Cell Destruction by Metal-DNA Complexes, which will explore, among other topics, whether bimetallic complexes lead to reduced cell proliferation or cell death when transformed into tumor derived tissue culture cells.

To complement the research activities supported by the grant, Kean University is introducing several programs, including an annual student competition for Merck/AAAS Research Fellowships, an annual summer symposium inviting other institutions to present their research on the Kean campus, a monthly joint group meeting that focuses on the sharing and critical analyses of ongoing results, and travel support for student presenters attending regional and national meetings.

The Merck/AAAS program goals are to enhance undergraduate education through research experience that emphasize the interrelationship between chemistry and biology, encourage students to pursue graduate education in chemistry and life sciences and to foster undergraduate programs and activities that bridge chemistry and biology.