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HPU Receives NC Biotechnology Center Grant

Posted on May 12, 2014.
Biochemistry major Miranda Zupp and Dr. Heather Miller work in the cell culture lab at HPU.

Biochemistry major Miranda Zupp and Dr. Heather Miller work in the cell culture lab at HPU.

HIGH POINT, N.C., May 12, 2014 – High Point University has been awarded an Institutional Development Grant from the North Carolina Biotechnology Center (NCBC) to support scientific research at HPU. The university will receive up to $77,186 by the NCBC, and HPU has agreed to an additional 25 percent match to purchase additional cell culture equipment, such as incubators, hoods, microscopes and a liquid nitrogen storage freezer.

Submitted by Dr. Heather Miller, assistant professor of chemistry, the grant proposal is entitled, “Development of an interdisciplinary cell culture facility to support biomedical research at High Point University.” The equipment is anticipated to be installed in HPU’s existing cell culture lab this summer, allowing more students hands-on exposure to cell culture as soon as fall 2014.

With the addition of the new equipment, students in upper-level undergraduate courses will be able to learn the essentials of cell culture techniques. Additionally, student researchers will have opportunities to work with biological samples from various basic science and human clinical trials research. These opportunities will give HPU students a competitive edge in biotechnology-related internships, as well as the basic skills necessary for biotechnology-related jobs or further graduate education.

HPU professors Dr. James Smoliga, left, and Dr. Miller, right, help student Brea Hampton practice her pipetting skills.

HPU professors Dr. James Smoliga, left, and Dr. Miller, right, help student Brea Hampton practice her pipetting skills.

Miller leads a multidisciplinary team consisting of faculty from the biology, physics and physical therapy departments. The team consists of:

  • Dr. Angela Bauer, Biology Department
  • Dr. Neil Coffield, Biology Department
  • Dr. Briana Fiser, Physics Department
  • Dr. James Smoliga, Physical Therapy Department

The new lab also presents accessibility. “It’s exciting for us because it’s the first of its kind on campus,” says Miller. “We used to have to go elsewhere to perform this type of research, but now we can do it here at HPU.”

Faculty in multiple departments will also benefit from an in-house facility with the equipment necessary for sterile cell and tissue culture work, which will greatly enhance the research that can be performed on HPU’s campus.

Last fall, HPU hired additional leadership in undergraduate sciences and expanded those departments as exercise science became the third largest major on campus, with biology ranking No. 5. Read about those additions here.

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