Dr. Elmer Price, seen here in his lab with student researchers, from left, Lydia Hager, Arrin Carter and Amanda Clark, received a $350,000 research grant from the National Science Foundation.

Dr. Elmer Price, a professor of biological sciences at Marshall University, has been awarded a three-year, $350,000 research grant from the National Science Foundation.

The grant will fund his research, which Price said “aims to provide new information regarding the mechanisms responsible for the important and complex process of adult neurogenesis the process by which the brain constantly generates new cells that migrate into regions of the brain involved in memory, learning and the sense of smell.”

“My goal is to develop bioengineered matrices which, when implanted into the brain, will redirect these new cells into areas that are damaged by injury or disease, potentially leading to new therapies for neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease or traumatic brain injury,” he said.

The grant also will support the undergraduate student researchers working on the project.

West Virginia ranks low nationally in terms of education, income and health, and Price said it is clear that part of the solution is to increase the number of the state’s citizens trained for a high-tech workforce.

“This program is designed to introduce and immerse undergraduates in this cutting-edge biological research, with the goal of increasing the number of Marshall students who go on to nationally recognized graduate programs,” he said.

The program (named FIRE, or Full-Immersion Research Experience) will recruit students early in their undergraduate education and incorporate them into Price’s laboratory.

Students will be paid a salary to allow them to devote a significant amount of time to working in the lab. They will participate in all aspects of the lab’s work, including conducting individual research projects, presenting at weekly lab meetings, co-authoring scientific papers and abstracts, preparing grant proposals and attending regional and national meetings.

Price said this deep and professional involvement in a research lab will help prepare the students for success in graduate school and a career in science, thereby increasing the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) workforce in West Virginia.