ADA, Ohio - Heart disease is the leading killer of American men and women - a fact that makes the research Boyd Rorabaugh is doing in the lab at Ohio Northern University particularly significant.
Mr. Rorabaugh, an associate professor of pharmacology and cell biology, recently landed the largest National Institutes of Health research grant in ONU's history to study ways to prevent damage to the heart during heart attacks.
The private university is to receive $347,235, which is just a portion of an overall $2.48 million grant for a collaborative project between Mr. Rorabaugh and Dr. Richard Neubig of the University of Michigan's pharmacology department and school of medicine.
Mr. Rorabaugh said his work focuses on protecting the heart from what's known as is-
chemic injury or damage to the heart that occurs because of a lack of blood flow. Ultimately, he hopes his research could lead to the development of drugs that would prevent injury to the heart during heart attacks.
Often, he said, patients survive a heart attack only to die of complications.
"Coronary heart disease is the largest killer in the United States. This is not obscure," Mr. Rorabaugh said. "This is something that impacts literally millions and millions of people. That's why there's a lot of effort being made, not just in our lab, but across the world."
Although Ohio Northern traditionally has been a student-focused, teaching university, ONU President Kendall Baker said he is excited to see more and more faculty doing scientific research.
"Having our faculty participate in cutting-edge research is always important. I think all universities want to do that and want to benefit from the kind of exposure that provides," Mr. Baker said. "We're not the University of Michigan, or the University of Toledo for that matter, but … we're very much a university that likes to integrate our students into faculty research opportunities."
Mr. Rorabaugh, who will continue teaching during the four-year duration of the grant, said three pharmacy students are working with him in the lab and he is in the process of hiring a full-time laboratory technician.
Mr. Baker did not discount the financial benefit of having more faculty members receiving research dollars.
"This year we will have the most external research funding and professional funding we've had in the history of the university," he said. "When it all gets tallied up, it will be over $3 million, and that facilitates things we couldn't otherwise do. We are very pleased in this economy to have revenue streams besides tuition."
Mr. Baker said he finds Mr. Rorabaugh's work particularly interesting.
"I happen to be a guy who had bypass surgery 20 years ago, so I can appreciate the kind of research Boyd is doing," he said.
Located in Ada, some 65 miles south of Toledo, ONU offers degrees in pharmacy, law, engineering, business, and liberal arts.
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