Rhodes Professor Receives Science Grant to Further Research Focusing on the Fungal Cell Wall


Publication Date: 11/29/2006

Dr. Loretta Jackson-Hayes, assistant professor of chemistry at Rhodes College, has received a $55,142 Cottrell College Science Award grant to support research focusing on genes involved in fungal cell wall metabolism. Unlike human cells, fungal cells are surrounded by a wall that is essential for their growth and functioning. “If we understand how the cell wall functions, antifungal drugs can be developed that have minimal side effects because they target the wall instead of interfering with comparable human cellular components,” says Jackson-Hayes.

The grant, which will provide research funding and student stipends for over two years starting June 2007, is from Research Corporation, a private operating foundation for the advancement of science. Established in 1912, the foundation aids research in the physical sciences and supports ideas independently proposed by college and university faculty members. 

Jackson-Hayes joined the Rhodes faculty in 2003 and has been a member of a Rhodes research group identifying genes that play specific roles in cell wall metabolism of the filamentous fungus Aspergillus nidulans. Experiments are being conducted to investigate the regulation of message production of these genes, to observe the cellular localization of the proteins involved during different stages of fungal development and to learn more about the specific role of each of them in cell wall metabolism.

Jackson-Hayes holds a Ph.D. in pharmacology from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center at Memphis and a B.S. in chemistry from Tougaloo College. Earlier this year, she received the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology′s Clara Benson Travel Fellowship. The fellowship is awarded to female scientists in the early stages of their careers and is based on their scientific contributions to biochemistry and molecular biology and their potential for continuing a high level of scientific endeavor.

Those with specific inquiries about research by Jackson-Hayes may contact her at jacksonhayesl@rhodes.edu or (901) 843-3510.