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FULLERTON : CSUF Prof Wins Copper Project Grant

Dr. Maria Linder, a Cal State Fullerton biochemistry professor, is accustomed to receiving grants for her research on copper and iron in the body.

In her 17 years at Cal State Fullerton, she has won more than $2 million in research grants from organizations including the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and the American Heart Assn.

But, she conceded, “it’s much harder than it used to be” to receive research money.

So, it was with a sense of “relief” that she learned of a newly awarded $100,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health.

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Linder, 55, received the Shannon Award, named for former NIH Director Dr. James A. Shannon, for her research on how copper and iron is transported to a fetus.

“We found a protein (ceruloplasmin) we thought was only in blood plasma. But it is also found in amniotic fluid, breast milk and cerebral spinal fluid--the brain is producing it,” she said.

Too much copper in a baby’s intestine can cause colic, a common digestive problem that affects infants between 1 and 3 months old, Linder said. But the ceruloplasmin protein may prevent copper from reaching the baby’s intestine. If so, it could be used in baby formulas in the future, Linder said.

Linder is also researching the effects of iron on heart disease and cancer, and how the body stores it in the blood. She hopes to get more funding for that project.

Linder, who earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from Harvard University and then did postdoctoral work at Harvard and MIT, won the 1993 American Chemical Society Award for Research at an Undergraduate Institution, her previous major award. She has been involved with copper and iron research since the late 1960s. She also won an outstanding professor of the year award in 1985.

“It’s really nice working with her,” said graduate student Philip Cerveza, one of the six students working with her on the copper project. “She’s always there to challenge us to solve the problem.”


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