Rohner Research Rewarded

Assistant Investigator Nicolas Rohner, PhD, became the first Stowers scientist to receive a Mallinckrodt grant. He was awarded $60,000 per year for three years. The award will partially fund Rohner’s research on the freshwater fish, Astyanax mexicanus, an emerging metabolic and genetic model system for studying metabolism.

The Edward Mallinckrodt, Jr. Foundation is a private foundation that funds basic biomedical research. Based in St. Louis, the Foundation’s mission is to support early-stage investigators engaged in biomedical research that has the potential to significantly advance the understanding, diagnosis, or treatment of disease.

Rohner and his lab will compare genomes of two distinct populations of Astyanax mexicanus: a surface-feeding form with ample food supply and a cave-dwelling, dark-adapted form with limited and seasonal food supply. The researchers seek to identify the genetic changes the cavefish have acquired that allow them to be starvation-resistant and to circumvent the negative health consequences usually associated with such extreme metabolic conditions. This research has the potential to yield information that may provide a better biological basis for therapeutic interventions for diabetes.

Rohner’s research on cavefish has also garnered him a generous grant from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. The nearly $300,000 two-year grant will further fund his research programs that seek to find answers and possible treatments for diabetes and associated auto-immune reactions.