Our professors at Richmond are more than just great educators. They also work to create new knowledge and change the world of public health and medical research for the better.

We’re proud of two faculty members who recently received grants to continue their important research into two major public health concerns. Biology professor Jory Brinkerhoff and chemistry professor Julie Pollock both won $100,000 awards from the Thomas F. and Kate Miller Jeffress Memorial Trust to support their research. The memorial trust gives grants to projects working to advance public health and medical research.

Brinkerhoff’s project focuses on Lyme disease, which is transmitted by our less reputable fellow arachnid, the black-legged tick. These ticks (and Lyme disease) have been spreading to Virginia and elsewhere and are becoming a major public health threat.

Brinkerhoff’s project team includes two UR undergraduate students. They are using advanced DNA analysis methods to identify genetic profiles of tick populations in different parts of Virginia in order to gain insights into the drivers of increasing Lyme disease risk.

“This research will ultimately lead to a better understanding of Lyme disease risk and can be leveraged to inform public health campaigns where Lyme disease risk is increasing, as well as in places that may experience increased risk in the future,” Brinkerfhoff said.

Pollock’s research will focus on breast cancer, specifically a protein called MEMO1 that plays an important role in breast cancer growth, progression, and recurrence.

Pollock is collaborating with fellow UR chemistry professor Carol Parish, and three Richmond undergraduates will be on the research team. The researchers will identify how the MEMO1 protein interacts with partners within cancer cells.

“In 2016, breast cancer was the most widely diagnosed cancer in women in the United States,” Pollock said. “These studies will allow us to understand the function of MEMO1 and determine if it could be a target for new breast cancer drugs.”