Dr. Timothy Breton Awarded $551,000 NSF Grant

Former Maine INBRE project leader Dr. Timothy Breton (University of Maine at Farmington) has been awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to support studies that are a continuation of his INBRE-funded research. The $551,559  project is jointly funded by the Physiological Mechanisms and Biomechanics Program of BIO-Integrative Organismal Systems and the Established Program to Support Competitive Research (EPSCoR) at NSF.

“This work directly stemmed from my prior INBRE award and is a continuation of the project”, said Dr. Breton. “(The award) is in no small part thanks to the INBRE awards and support for UMaine Farmington that served as the foundation. In addition to the science, the project also has a large role in growing bioinformatics education in four western Maine high schools.”

Read more from UMF here.

Details on the research program:

SREBs (Super-conserved Receptors Expressed in Brain) are a group of hormone receptor proteins in vertebrate animals whose function is poorly understood. This knowledge gap stems from a lack of verified hormones that bind to SREBs on the surface of cells. Previous studies have supported functional roles for SREBs in the brain, gut, and gonads that may be conserved in animals. This project applies novel, artificially synthesized molecules that are known to bind to SREB receptors in ovaries of three fish species to assess SREB function in reproduction. The species were chosen based on previously identified genetic differences resulting in different profiles of SREB subtypes across these species. Results will be compared among the fish species to identify unique and shared functions. The resulting improved understanding of SREB functions may provide a foundation for future commercial applications in animal reproduction and in aquaculture. The research will generate databases that will foster undergraduate and high-school student research experiences in bioinformatics in rural western Maine, which has a high proportion of first-generation college students. Local high-school teachers will be trained to use these databases in their classes and to develop independent bioinformatics modules for sustainable use. These educational activities serve as a scalable model to bring bioinformatics training to under-served student populations, contributing to biotechnology workforce development. In addition, through a collaboration with two researchers at the University of Florida, the project will contribute to training of a graduate student and post-doctoral fellow.

The project starts on September 1, 2023.

Related articles about Dr. Breton’s research:

Student Authors at UMaine Farmington

Sharing Core Facilities Vital to Research at UMaine Farmington