A Chapman University School of Pharmacy junior faculty member has been awarded a $1,059,867 grant by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for ataxia research.

Ataxia is a degenerative, hereditary disease of the nervous system. Those diagnosed often experience the same symptoms as someone who is drunk, such as slurred speech, stumbling and falling. All are related to deterioration of the part of the brain that is responsible for coordinating movement.

Maio Zhang

Miao Zhang, Ph.D.

The disease can be fatal within 10 to 15 years of the onset of symptoms and can affect people of all ages. There are currently no effective treatments or cure for the estimated 150,000 Americans diagnosed due to the unknown origin and development of the disease.

With this grant, Chapman Assistant Professor in ion channel pharmacology, Miao Zhang, Ph.D., in collaboration with Ilya Bezprozvanny, Ph.D., University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, will be able to further their research to develop new drug treatments for movement disorders.

“This innovation award allows us to take further action to identify the underlying causes of ataxia,” Professor Zhang said. “These SK ion channels have been associated with ataxia, although their exact role is not clear. Drugs that enhance SK ion channel activity have shown promise for treatment in past studies.”

Zhang joined Chapman’s School of Pharmacy in January 2015 before the first class of pharmacy students began their program later that fall. The grant is titled, “Development of SK channel modulators as therapeutic agents for ataxia.”


About Chapman University School of Pharmacy
As Orange County’s first school of pharmacy with entry of its first professional degree cohort of students in September of 2015, CUSP empowers graduates and faculty to develop a deep scientific foundation, the drive for lifelong learning, and the compassion to optimize delivery of health care for those with diverse and unmet needs in Orange County and beyond through inter-professional practice models and community outreach. CUSP creates the culture and environment necessary to conduct collaborative basic, translational, clinical education and outcomes research and learning that make a difference in people’s lives. CUSP intends to become a leader in innovative, inter-professional and personalized education of future pharmacists, pharmaceutical scientists and pharmacy educator’s, while being recognized for excellence in collaborative, impactful research, scholarship and practice models that advance global health. The program will deliver the Doctor of Pharmacy degree governed by the ACPE and lead to a license to practice pharmacy as governed by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP). The school is located in Chapman University’s Harry and Diane Rinker Health Science Campus in Irvine, CA. For more information, visit www.chapman.edu/pharmacy.


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