Katie Hoover ‘21 awarded Sigma Xi grant for proposal on biochemistry of cardiovascular diseases

Katie Hoover ’21 working in the Borzok Lab.

MANSFIELD, Pa. – Mansfield University’s Katie Hoover ‘21 was awarded a grant from Sigma Xi’s Grant in Aid of Research (GIAR) program for her proposal on the biochemistry of cardiovascular diseases.

Founded in 1886, Sigma Xi is The Scientific Research Honor Society and one of the oldest and largest scientific organizations in the world. The Sigma Xi GIAR program promotes scientific excellence and achievement through hands-on learning. Only 12-15% of applicants receive any level of funding for the highly-competitive program.

Hoover, an Enola, Pa. native, is a rising senior in the bachelor of science in chemistry program with a concentration in biochemistry.

“Receiving this grant is an amazing opportunity to continue our research during the upcoming school year and beyond, as it will allow us to get the essential supplies needed to advance the wet lab portion of our project,” Hoover explained. “I’m so grateful for the opportunity to participate in research at Mansfield and for Dr. Borzok’s mentorship. I look forward to both furthering my research experience and moving this project forward as much as I can during my senior year at Mansfield.”

The lab, led by assistant professor of chemistry Dr. Maegen Borzok, focuses on the molecular basis of arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy, a fatal disease affecting many. Specifically, students are studying how genetic mutations in the protein desmoplakin affect the ability of the protein to function properly.

The goal is to develop a treatment for this genetic disease by “fixing” or protecting the mutant protein at the molecular level. The lab uses molecular dynamics, a form of computer simulations, along with wet lab biochemical assays to study desmoplakin’s behavior and determine how it can be fixed.

“Reasons like this are exactly why I am here at Mansfield University,” said Dr. Borzok. “To hear the excitement in a student’s voice and to watch the wonder of developing their inquisitive mind is an honor to witness. This Grant in Aid from Sigma Xi, will allow Katie and I to continue working together to further our research on a fatal disease affecting so many.”

Learn more about chemistry at Mansfield University, visit mansfield.edu/majors-and-minors/Chemistry/.