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Evolutionary Biologist Receives Award to Study the Regenerative Powers of the Shrew

Davalos liliana
Davalos liliana
Liliana Dávalos, PhD

STONY BROOK, NY, April 3 , 2019 –  Imagine if humans could evolve or learn how to shrink their bodies and certain organs for periods of time in order to preserve their functions. While this is not currently possible, Liliana Dávalos, PhD, Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution in the College of Arts and Sciences at Stony Brook University, will be studying the phenomenal capabilities of the shrew, which shrinks up to 20 percent during winter months without hibernating, including its brain. Her research on this unique mammal may shed light on the processes of neurological degeneration and regeneration in mammals, and thus provide keys how to treat degenerative illnesses such as multiple sclerosis or Alzheimer’s disease.

For this innovative work, Professor Dávalos is one of the international recipients of the Human Frontier Science Program’s (HFSP) 2019 collaborative research grants. She will receive $330,000 in funding over three years.

The shrew shrinks its body and organs in order to survive on fewer resources and preserve its functions during harsh winter months. In spring, the shrew regrows quickly by 13 percent.

Professor Dávalos’ collaborators include Dina Dechmann from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, who has studied the shrew’s unique adaptation extensively, and John Nieland from Aalborg University.

HFSP research grants are given for a broad range of international projects under the umbrella theme of “complex mechanisms of living organisms” and fund only cutting-edge and high-risk, high-reward projects. For more about the 2019 HFSP grant recipients, and a list of the recipients, see this HFSP webpage and links, and this news.

About Stony Brook University

Stony Brook University, widely regarded as a SUNY flagship, is going beyond the expectations of what today’s public universities can accomplish.  Since its founding in 1957, this young university has grown to become one of only four University Center campuses in the State University of New York (SUNY) system with more than 25,700 students and 2,500 faculty members, and 18 NCAA Division I athletic programs. Our faculty have earned numerous prestigious awards, including the Nobel Prize, Pulitzer Prize, Indianapolis Prize for animal conservation, Abel Prize and the inaugural Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics. The University offers students an elite education with an outstanding return on investment: U.S.News & World Report ranks Stony Brook among the top 50 public universities in the nation. Its membership in the Association of American Universities (AAU) places Stony Brook among the top 62 research institutions in North America. As part of the management team of Brookhaven National Laboratory, the University joins a prestigious group of universities that have a role in running federal R&D labs. Stony Brook University is a driving force in the region’s economy, generating nearly 60,000 jobs and an annual economic impact of $6.4 billion. Our state, country and world demand ambitious ideas, imaginative solutions and exceptional leadership to forge a better future for all. The students, alumni, researchers and faculty of Stony Brook University are prepared to meet this challenge.

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