Curiosity in Action
For the past few years, Pascal Lafontant, Associate Professor of Biology, has overseen DePauw students studying zebrafish and giant danios, believing their mechanism for regeneration can be used to treat heart disease in humans. If successful, the leading cause of death in the United States might drop a few spots in the ranking.
Compared to the hundreds of billions of dollars spent each year treating heart disease, the lab’s operating budget is a small drop in the bucket. But with test subjects that can be found at a local pet shop and a group of curious, purpose-driven undergraduate research assistants, Pascal’s lab is proving how far ingenuity can go in biomedical research. “I teach students about research in a real-world sort of way,” Lafontant says, “It prepares them to do well in grad school and as independent scientific thinkers.”
The students have earned national acclaim for their work and have had their findings published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. They have also won a grant from the National Institute of Health to study how the heart gets its first blood vessels, to help solve key challenges in cardiovascular diseases.