ECU student receives travel scholarship

An ECU doctoral student is one of only five students nationwide who will represent the United States this summer at an international conference on pharmacology in South Africa.

lak2Lalage Katunga, of the Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology, is the recipient of a Graduate Student Travel Award from the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, which will send her to present research at the 17th World Congress of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology in Cape Town from July 13-18.

Katunga joined the laboratory of Dr. Ethan Anderson, assistant professor of Pharmacology & Toxicology, in 2011 to investigate the role that lipid peroxide-end products aldehydes play in cardiac remodeling in the setting of insulin resistance/pre-diabetes. Her primary interest is in nutrition and metabolism, which began while she was working as a research assistant at the UNC Chapel Hill Nutrition Research Institute in Kannapolis. There, she investigated the health impact of nutritional transition to a more western diet in Inuvialuit women in the Northwest Territories in Canada.

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the rates of heart disease are two- to four-times greater among individuals with diabetes. This is an area of active research as these complications are expensive to treat and carry a much worse prognosis for the patient. Katunga will present the findings of her research on a novel drug carnosinol, designed to mitigate the harmful effects of diabetes, in Cape Town.

Katunga is originally from Harare, Zimbabwe. She would like to continue a career in research to understand the factors that predispose certain subsets of the population to disease, and how this knowledge can be used to improve patient responses to drugs.

“She is outstanding and I know she will be an excellent representative of ECU, and the American Society of Pharmacology at this meeting in South Africa,” said Anderson.