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Arts and Sciences Scientist Recipient of $1.6 Million NIH Research Grant

Biologist Kate Lewis to Use Award to Study Spinal Cord

Jun 19, 2014 | Article by: Sarah Scalese

Katharine Lewis

Kate Lewis, an associate professor of biology in Syracuse University’s College of Arts and Sciences has added yet another award to her already extensive list of accolades. Lewis, who earlier this year was awarded a research grant by the Human Frontier Science Program Organization, just received a $1.6 million RO1 research grant from the National Institute of Health (NIH). Lewis will use the money to study how particular types of nerve cells, called interneurons are specified in the spinal cord.

“To receive an NIH R01 award is a great honor,” says Lewis. “I am particularly excited about this research as it has the potential to facilitate the development of more effective treatments for spinal cord injuries and neuronal diseases that affect locomotion or sensory perception. If our research improves the quality of life for even one person, it will be a job well done.”

The results from this research will significantly increase knowledge about how spinal neurons are specified and form functional neuronal circuits within the spinal cord. “The results should have a huge impact on the fields of developmental neurobiology and neural stem cell biology, leading the way towards new treatments for spinal cord regeneration and repair following traumatic injuries,” says Sandra Hewett, the Beverly Petterson Bishop Professor of Neuroscience and professor of biology.

“I am very proud of Kate and congratulate her on this substantive accomplishment.”

Lewis, who previously served as a Royal Society University Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge, joined SU’s Department of Biology in 2010. Since arriving at SU she has raised more than $4 million in extramural funding including grants for her specific lab and collaborative grants with other researchers at SU and internationally. Her research interests include but are not limited to the specification and patterning of spinal cord interneurons; the formation of functional neuronal circuitry; and the evolution of spinal cord patterning and function.  She earned a Ph.D. from University College London and went on to continue her postdoctoral studies at the University of Oregon.

“Kate continues to make the Department of Biology proud,” says Ramesh Raina, biology professor and chair of the department. “This particular research is especially important work and could unleash a variety of treatments and relief to those suffering from some of the most severe spinal cord injuries and debilitating diseases. I look forward to reading the results of Kate’s latest round of research.”

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Sarah Scalese