Halfmann Lands Two Grants: One National and One Regional

Assistant Investigator Randal Halfmann, PhD, has been awarded the Basil O’Connor Starter Scholar Research Award from the March of Dimes Foundation. This highly prestigious and selective award is intended to support individuals in the early years of their research careers. The award will support Halfmann’s efforts to probe proteins that form self-templating aggregates known as prions. Halfmann hypothesizes that prion-forming proteins may be responsible for oocyte aging and reduced developmental potential, which ultimately can lead to reduced human reproductive outcomes. Additionally, Halfmann believes this line of inquiry may provide a molecular basis for oocyte aging.

Halfmann has also received a grant through the University of Kansas Alzheimer’s Disease Center and the Landon Center on Aging. The funds will support research that focuses on producing new biosensors for detecting prions. Prions have been previously implicated in neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). With this funding, Halfmann hopes to establish effective ways to detect known and suspected AD-associated prion proteins in biological specimens, which may accelerate the discovery of new interventions aimed at disrupting the disease progression.