Grant to aid research in chromosome behavior

Sarit Smolikove, assistant professor in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Department of Biology, has received a three-year, $450,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to focus research on the behavior of chromosomes during the biological process called meiosis.

Meiosis is a specialized cell division that results in the formation of gametes (sperm and eggs). This division reduces the number of chromosomes by half. Upon fertilization, the number of chromosomes is restored so that it is identical to the one found in the parental cells. The accurate reconstitution of chromosome numbers is crucial for the development of a healthy embryo.

Alterations in chromosome numbers are the leading known causes for serious birth defects including Down syndrome as well as miscarriages and stillbirths. Therefore, the accurate separation of maternal and paternal (homologous) chromosomes during meiosis is a key event for successful sexual reproduction and is of tremendous importance for human health.

Despite the crucial importance of meiosis to human health, many of its aspects are still poorly understood. Recent progress has been made but the goal of this grant is to advance research in this area.

Learn more about Dr. Smolikove’s research at www.biology.uiowa.edu/faculty_info.php?ID=1765.

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