SGA to help fund exercise research

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    Exercise could help prevent one of the possible causes of Alzheimer’s disease.

    That is the topic on which a university professor and two undergraduate students have been trying to do more research, thanks to funding from the Student Government Association.

    “A lot of the [research] that we are doing right now, we wouldn’t be able to finish without the SGA [funding],” Michael Chumley, assistant professor of biology, said.

    SGA awarded $500 to Ashley Bolin , one of the undergraduate students, for her research proposal on this topic.

    The funding Bolin received went toward materials needed for the research, such as antibodies, she said.

    The research involved the study of exercise and the effect it might have on inflammation of the brain, Bolin said.

    Exercise leads to an increase in neurogenesis, or the creation of new neurons, while inflammation slows down the production of new neurons, the senior biology major said.

    The group was researching whether exercise could prevent neuron reduction caused by inflammation, Chumley said.

    Alzheimer’s disease stops the creation of new neurons, and exercise could prevent the onset of the disease, Chumley said.

    “If exercise can prevent this inflammation process, then exercise could have a lot of beneficial effects, both on producing new neurons and on maybe preventing the onset of Alzheimer’s disease,” he said.

    Chumley said he chose Bolin and senior biochemistry major Kaitlyn Vann’s project because both were members of the swim team and involved in their majors. He thought they would find the research interesting since they both exercised regularly.

    SGA started funding research proposals like this one after it passed legislation during the fall 2011 semester, said Addison White, Class of 2013 representative.

    The Science & Engineering Research Center funded 19 research proposals last semester, but the university administration could no longer fund SERC, White said.

    In order to promote undergraduate research, SGA passed legislation to help fund that research.

    “We have a sincere need for undergraduate research,” White said.

    Bolin said it was great that SGA was funding undergraduate research because it could be difficult for professors.

    “People want to do research and are encouraged to do research, but sometimes it ends up being a burden on the professor or whoever you do research with because they have to use their own money on undergraduate projects,” she said. “It’s nice when you’re able to apply and receive money for your own projects so you’re not just a drain on the professor.” 

    Although the SGA funding helped out undergraduate research, it was not a permanent solution to the problem, White said.

    “[SGA doesn’t] have the funds necessary to have this move forward in years to come,” he said. “Ideally, we’d look for a way to bring SERC back.” 

    In a perfect world, SGA would not have to fund research proposals, Chumley said.

    But much of the research that goes on in the Department of Biology could not be finished without SGA funding, he said.