Press Release Archive 2011 - 1999

C of I biology associate professor receives prestigious grant

2008. 06. 03.

CALDWELL College of Idaho associate professor of biology Sara Heggland has received a $195,000 National Institute of Health (NIH) grant over the next three years to continue researching the effects of environmental toxins on bone health.

Only 10-15 percent of submitted grant applications are funded by the NIH Academic Research Enhancement Award (AREA) program. Heggland will use the grant money for herself and approximately 10 of her students to continue their research, travel to regional and national conferences to present papers, and publish their work.

I believe the best way to teach biology is through research, said Heggland, who has been at The C of I for seven years. Our students are very capable of doing research at a level that's publishable.

Heggland said the amount of the award is important because it allows her to hire several students to work with her year-round.

The type of science we do is expensive, and I need to be able to provide support for students during the summer so they can stay and work, she said.

NIH AREA grants are given to colleges and universities that provide undergraduate education and training for future scientists, but have not received major awards from NIH in the past.

The award provides funding for small-scale, new or ongoing health-related research projects, including pilot research projects and feasibility studies; development, testing, and refinement of research techniques; secondary analysis of available data sets; and similar research projects that demonstrate research capability.

Heggland and her students have been researching the effects of the heavy metal cadmium in bone for seven years. Cadmium is an environmental contaminant that accumulates in the body and is linked to bone diseases such as osteoporosis.

Heggland also receives funding from a statewide Idea Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) Program grant, also provided by NIH, which expires in April 2009.

She said the experience she's gotten working through INBRE helped her prepare a competitive research grant application. Receiving the AREA grant is significant because it shows The C of I is becoming known as an undergraduate liberal arts college that provides students with opportunities to conduct research as part of their educational experience.

This grant is an indicator that we're moving in that direction, Heggland said. This will allow us to continue to foster a culture of research on campus that supports the mission of the college by allowing students to expand their academic experience outside of the classroom and become engaged in their discipline.