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NIH asks Creighton undergrads to probe survival mechanisms of cancer tumors

Aug 31, 2023
2 min Read
Eugene Curtin
Julie Strauss-Soukup in lab setting

The effort to understand the structure and survival mechanisms of cancerous tumors underlies a new National Institutes of Health grant to Creighton University’s vice provost for research and scholarship. 

Julie Strauss-Soukup, PhD, professor of chemistry and biochemistry, has received a three-year, $440,999 grant to investigate the overproduction of polyamines in cancerous tumors, including prostate, breast and skin cancers. Polyamines, which are essential for cell growth and differentiation, are organic compounds whose functions, if properly understood, could help develop anticancer drugs for humans and antibiological agents for other organisms, such as antifungal agents and even pesticides. 

Titled, “Riboswitch RNAs as potential new targets for antibiological agents,” the project will provide further opportunity for Creighton undergraduates to engage in important research, enhancing a tradition of service that is central to a Creighton education. 

Research Enhancement Award (R15) grants, such as the one received by Strauss-Soukup, are given to institutions that educate a significant number of America’s scientists and which expose students to the procedures and practices of scientific research. 

The grant is … designed to support meritorious research and expose students to research.
— Julie Strauss-Soukup, PhD

“The grant is an R15, and specifically an AREA grant, which is designed to support meritorious research, expose students to research and strengthen the research environment of the institution,” Strauss-Soukup says. 

The grant, she says, requires student involvement in research work, and Creighton undergraduates will be given an opportunity to fulfill that requirement. 

Creighton pursues ambitious research goals, Strauss-Soukup says, and in recent years has seen significant growth in extramural funding as well as internal support and infrastructure. 

NIH grants to Creighton University have reached approximately $10 million in each of the past two fiscal years, reflecting the University’s success in conducting important research. 

Research and scholarship are integral parts of Creighton’s student experience. The Center for Undergraduate Research and Scholarship (CURAS), is the University’s central point for students seeking undergraduate research and scholarship opportunities.