Professor wins grant to study cancer cells

Christopher Veldkamp, assistant professor of chemistry, was awarded the Academic Research Enhancement Award by the National Institutes of Health to fund the research of cancer cells spreading throughout the body.

Veldkamp

Veldkamp applied for the $334,633 grant through the NIH after finding out about it through UW-Whitewater’s Office of Research and Sponsored Programs and through the federal government’s grant program.

“I applied for the grant in June 2010 and my research proposal was peer reviewed and scored in the fall,” Veldkamp said.

He was awarded the grant to fund the study of a family of proteins called chemokines in humans and other animals.

A specific chemokine, CCL21, a secondary lymphoid-tissue chemokine, elicits its effects by binding to a cell surface. The binding facilitates the spread of cancerous tumors.

“We’re trying to get a 3D structure or picture of what this very small protein, CCL21, looks like to come up with ways to prevent the protein from causing cancer to spread,” Veldkamp said.

Veldkamp plans to hire students to help with research. Because this is the largest grant the science department has ever seen, the research will be carried out in a three-year span.

“By figuring out the spread of cancer and how the CCL21 chemokine migrates and binds to cell surfaces, we might be able to slow the spread of cancer,” Veldkamp said.

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