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August 12, 2005

Birmingham-Southern College biology professor receives NIH grant

BIRMINGHAM , Ala.—Dr. Leo Pezzementi, professor of biology at Birmingham-Southern College, has received a research grant from the National Institutes of Health.

The grant provides $201,000 for research on acetylcholinesterase, an enzyme that is the target of drugs used for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, myasthenia gravis, and acute glaucoma. The research studies also can assist in medical defense by leading to better detection of and antidotes to nerve gases, and can aid in the improvement of insecticides and pesticides that are more specific to insects and less poisonous to humans.

Pezzementi is using the grant to work with Birmingham-Southern undergraduate students to study the structure and function of the enzyme and to provide them with valuable research experience.

“The better we can understand how drugs bind to the enzyme and inhibit it, the easier it will be to design better pharmacological agents, including those to treat Alzheimer's, eliminate insect pests, reverse the effects of nerve gases,” said Pezzementi.

Pezzementi has been working on this research since 1982. He joined the BSC faculty in 1985 and received his doctorate from the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

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