A multidisciplinary team of UCI professors has received a $1 million grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation to develop new molecular tools to identify ribonucleic acids essential in learning and memory formation. “Our project involves building luminescent RNA molecules, allowing us to observe their position and activity in the brain of a living, learning mouse,” said principal investigator Andrej Luptak, professor of pharmaceutical sciences and chemistry. “We will relate the results obtained over the past 40 years in cultured cells to the molecular mechanisms that happen in live animals. Our goal is to detect the presence of RNAs known to be important for learning and memory formation and observe local photon production.” Jennifer Prescher, professor of chemistry, and Oswald Steward, Distinguished Professor of anatomy & neurobiology, are co-principal investigators on the project.
The W. M. Keck Foundation was established in 1954 in Los Angeles by William Myron Keck, founder of The Superior Oil Company. One of the nation’s largest philanthropic organizations, the W. M. Keck Foundation supports outstanding science, engineering and medical research. The Foundation also supports undergraduate education and maintains a program within Southern California to support arts and culture, education, health and community service projects.