Sheehan awarded NIH NRSA postdoc
Monday, March 26, 2012
EEB graduate student Michael Sheehan has received a National Research Service Award postdoctoral fellowship from the National Institute of Health. The fellowship will fund a proposal Sheehan wrote on the evolutionary genetics of urinary proteins in mice.
“Mice have complex, individually distinctive scents determined by their major urinary proteins,” he said. “These distinct smells are used to recognize other mice individually. My project seeks to understand the genetic mechanisms that give rise to these unique phenotypes. Additionally, we will examine patterns of genetic variation to see if there is a signature of selection maintaining variation in this highly diverse phenotype.”
Sheehan will begin work with Dr. Michael Nachman (a UM Biology Ph.D. alumnus) at the University of Arizona, Tucson, in August 2012. The work is in collaboration with Drs. Jane Hurst and Rob Beynon, experts on mouse urinary proteins, at the University of Liverpool.
“The broader implication is that it will provide a basis for understanding the basis of phenotypic variation, which is poorly understood, and likely to be important in range of fields from evolutionary biology to medicine,” he explained. “To a lesser extent, we will document variation in urinary proteins from wild mouse populations. Urinary proteins from mice are allergens and thought to be a major contributor to asthma and breathing problems in urban areas.”
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