Puerto Rico’s Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González-Colón announced Tuesday awards adding up to more than $4.7 million for research on cerebral cancer at Caribbean Central University and for two research projects on evolutionary biology at the University of Puerto Rico.
CaribbeanCentral University was awarded $330,781 through the National Institute of General Medical Sciences to finance the “Microglia facilitate glioma progression through the Pyk2 and FAK signaling research” project.
This project, led by Associate Professor Lilia Kucheryavykh, focuses on cerebral cancer tumors known as gliomas, specifically on the interaction of glial cells with immune system cells in the tumor.
The Institute’s division of Pharmacology, Physiology and Chemical Biology, which supports a broad range of research and training to better understand the molecular basis of fundamental biological processes and to discover means to control them, was the source of the funds.
At the same time, the UPR-Río Piedras campus will receive funding for two joint research projects with other U.S. mainland universities on evolutionary biology.
The research project led by Riccardo papa, on “RII Track-2 FEC: Genomic Logic Underlying Adaptive Morphological Divergence,” will be awarded $4 million by the National Science Foundation. The Project has already received a $2 million advance and will be financed by the NSF until July 31, 2021, González said.
This is a joint project between the UPR and Mississippi State University to achieve better understanding of the genotype-phenotype relationship, using color patterns on heliconius butterfly wings. Unraveling these relationships would provide a great advance in understanding how morphological diversity originates and develops.
The second project, awarded $383,316, and also led by professor Pappa, is a joint project between the UPR, George Washington University and Cornell University, titled “Cis-Regulatory Basis of Butterfly Wing Pattern Evolution.”
Funded under NSF’s Evolutionary Mechanism Development program, this research focuses on the genetic changes underlying distribution of wing pigmentation in various species of butterfly. Understanding the development of color patterns has been an important element in biological structure understanding.