UTHSC Student Kevin Creamer Receives Grant for Aging Research

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Kevin Creamer, a graduate student in the Integrated Biomedical Sciences Program at UTHSC, has received a grant award for $94,812 from the National Institute on Aging, a subsidiary of the National Institutes of Health.

Kevin Creamer, a graduate student in the Integrated Biomedical Sciences Program at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), has received a grant award for $94,812 from the National Institute on Aging, a subsidiary of the National Institutes of Health. The funds will support his study on the role of chromatin in the aging process titled, “Chromatin Remodeling Complex in the Spreading of Silent Heterochromatin.” Funds for the study will be distributed over a three-year period. Creamer, who is pursuing a PhD in biochemistry through the UT College of Graduate Health Sciences, currently works in the lab of Janet Partridge, PhD, Department of Biochemistry, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Chromatin is a combination of proteins that make up the chromosomes of a cell and DNA, nucleic acid in cells that helps store information and help the body function. The primary functions of chromatin are to package DNA into a smaller volume to fit in the cell, and to regulate gene expression. Chromatin comes in two forms — heterochromatin, a condensed form that provides mechanical strength to facilitate movement of chromosomes during mitosis or cell division, and euchromatin, an expanded chromatic material rich in gene concentration that occurs when DNA is being actively transmitted. Heterochromatin components tend to be lost as cells age.

“The aim of the study is to examine the mechanical details of chromatin-modifying complexes that maintain genomic stability,” said Creamer. “By combining certain scientific techniques, we hope to aid the understanding of how chromatic activities are involved in protecting the integrity of genetic material. Our focus is toward understanding the process of natural and diseased aging, as well as the development of cancer.”

The National Institutes of Health (NIH), the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.