SF State News {University Communications}

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News Release

SF State assistant professor awarded prestigious NSF CAREER award

National Science Foundation recognizes San Mateo County resident's cellular research


SAN FRANCISCO, June 30, 2008 -- San Francisco State University Assistant Professor of Biology Diana Chu has received a prestigious CAREER grant from the National Science Foundation. The five-year grant of $655,000 will support Chu's research on the role of proteins in sperm production.

The Faculty Early Career Development Grant Program confers the National Science Foundation's most prestigious award for faculty at the beginning of their careers. It recognizes those who exemplify the role of teacher-scholar through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research.

Chu's research focuses on the molecular basis of male infertility. Earlier research, published in the journal "Nature," identified evolutionarily conserved proteins critical to the production of healthy sperm.

"The NSF grant will allow us to focus on one particular protein variant that is expressed exclusively in sperm," Chu said. "Whenever we remove this protein, the results are a decrease in fertility. We want to find out why." Chu is working with collaborators from the Scripps Research Institute, Yale University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The grant money will fund post-doctoral and graduate student assistants for Chu's research as well as lab supplies. The education component of the funding involves collaboration with SF State's Learning Assistance Center. The graduate biology students will receive writing tutorials from graduate students in English to develop their skills in the preparation of scientific papers and proposals.

"Diana Chu exemplifies the purpose of the National Science Foundation CAREER awards," said Sheldon Axler, dean of the College of Science and Engineering. "The dedication to providing students with opportunities to conduct sophisticated science that she shares with her colleagues in the College speaks well for the quality of education San Francisco State provides."

Chu is the eighth SF State faculty member to be honored with a CAREER grant in the past eight years. Axler said that the award positions SF State among elite research universities, which are the typical recipients of CAREER grants. Only eight other universities in the California State University 23-campus system have received NSF CAREER grants.

Chu, a native of Reno, Nev., and resident of Belmont, holds a doctorate in molecular biology from the University of California, Los Angeles. Prior funding for Chu's research has come from the National Institutes of Health.

San Francisco State University's biology department is the largest in the California State University system. SF State ranks second among all U.S. comprehensive universities whose graduates successfully enroll in Ph.D. programs. Graduates from SF State go on to successful careers at internationally recognized biotechnology companies including Genentech, Amgen, Pfizer and Merck.

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