The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga


Two professors receive NIH research funding

Dr. Sean Richards and Dr. Margaret Kovach of the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences have received funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). 

“NIH funding is very competitive and especially difficult to obtain for faculty in predominantly undergraduate teaching institutions,” said Diane Miller, director of Grants and Program Review. 

Richards and Kovach will work collaboratively to use NIH funding to analyze the amount of PAH and heavy metals in South Chattanooga. They  will collect soil and small mammals from the area and measure the presence and potential for exposure and effects of living in close proximity to these contaminated soils.

Richards and Kovach's study will provide a quantitative and defensible assessment of the risk that residents assume by living in South Chattanooga.  UTC will collaborate with Southern-Illinois University-Edwardsville to carry out this three-year research project.

NIH funding was also provided to Kovach for a research project entitled "Molecular Pathology of Deafness Due to Mutation in PMP22."  She will focus on examining the function of a specific gene in individuals with normal hearing. 

Kovach's research draws upon a past study that linked the mutation of the gene to deafness in a number of individuals afflicted with Charcot-Marie-Tooth, a debilitating disease that attacks the nerves connecting the brain and spinal cord to muscles and sensory cells.