UIC chemist receives 2022 Scialog Collaborative Innovation Award

Stephanie Cologna, UIC associate professor of chemistry
Stephanie Cologna, UIC associate professor of chemistry.

Stephanie Cologna, University of Illinois Chicago associate professor of chemistry, is among 13 researchers from seven cross-disciplinary teams from the United States and Canada to receive funding in the second year of Scialog: Microbiome, Neurobiology and Disease, an initiative to catalyze advances in the understanding of the gut-brain axis.

She will receive an individual award of $55,000 as part of the project “Tracking Alpha-synuclein from Enteroendocrine Cells to the Enteric Nervous System.” Cologna and her collaborators will seek to better understand communication between the gut and the brain as it relates to Parkinson’s disease. Combining chemistry and biology, her research uses mass spectrometry to answer chemical and biological questions important to understanding cellular function, particularly, a devastating human disease in this project. 

The project with Elizabeth Bess of the University of California, Irvine, is a result of the 2022 Scialog meeting held virtually in April. It brought together 45 early career researchers from a variety of disciplines including chemistry, physics, biology and neurophysiology to discuss challenges and gaps in current knowledge regarding the interplay between the gut microbiome and neurobiology, build a community around visionary goals, and form teams to write proposals.

The initiative is sponsored by Research Corporation for Science Advancement, The Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group and the Frederick Gardner Cottrell Foundation, with support from the Walder Foundation.

Cologna’s award is funded by the Walder Foundation, which Joseph and Elizabeth Walder established to address critical issues impacting our world. The foundation’s five areas of focus — science innovation, environmental sustainability, the performing arts, migration and immigrant communities, and Jewish life — are an extension of the Walders’ lifelong passions, interests, and personal and professional experiences.

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