Alumnus March Awarded Hartwell Foundation Grant

ChBE alumnus John C. March (Ph.D. '05), an assistant professor in Cornell University's Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering, has been awarded a Hartwell Foundation grant to support his current research. As a Hartwell Investigator, he will receive $100,000 a year for three years to further his work.

The Hartwell Foundation supports cutting-edge applied biomedical research with the potential to benefit children. It funds early-stage projects that have not yet qualified for grants from traditional sources.

March, who directs Cornell's Metabolic and Signal Engineering Lab, received the funding for an innovative way to treat chronic and debilitating juvenile (type 1) diabetes. By engineering the probiotic bacteria of the small intestine to stimulate cells lining the intestine to secrete insulin into the blood circulation, he expects to "hide" the site of its production from the body's immune response, which otherwise destroys the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas. If the approach proves successful in regulating sugar metabolism, it could result in a very low cost and non-intrusive alternative to current life-long dependence on injected or pumped insulin. This work explores the potential of "re-wiring" human signaling pathways by using probiotic bacteria as transducers.

While attending the University of Maryland, March was advised by Professor William Bentley (formerly ChBE; currently Chair, Fischell Department of Bioengineering). March is one of several young Bentley Group alumni to obtain both faculty positions at major universities and awards and recognition for their work.

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Learn More:

Visit the Hartwell Foundation web site »
Visit Professor March's home page »

Published May 2, 2008