UK Grad Student Advocates for Science Funding on Capitol Hill

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 1, 2011) — University of Kentucky graduate student Kristen Kelps recently returned from an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., where she was an invited participant in the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology's "Student Hill Day."

Kelps and other graduate students from around the country visited the Capitol on March 15 to meet with their representatives in Congress to advocate for funding of basic scientific research. 

Originally from Ravenswood, W.Va., Kelps completed her undergraduate studies at High Point University in North Carolina and is now enrolled in the graduate anatomy and neurobiology program in the UK College of Medicine, where she is completing her Ph.D. 

"We're very proud of Kristen’s accomplishments," said Luke Bradley, assistant professor of anatomy and neurobiology,who has mentored Kelps since she started working in his laboratory in 2007. "This was a great opportunity for Kristen to learn more about the central role federal funding plays in biomedical research, as well as the importance of letting legislators and the public know what advances are being made with their investment."

Kelps' research examines how certain propeptides (protein precursors), derived from a protein called glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF), work to protect brain cells. This knowledge will serve as a platform for the development of new treatments for neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease.