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Pomona College Professor Receives $216,556 Grant for Innovative Research in Developmental Neuroscience

l Professor of Neuroscience and Assistant Professor of Biology Karl Johnson

Karl Johnson, the Sarah Rempel and Herbert S. Rempel Professor of Neuroscience at Pomona College, has been awarded a $216,556 Academic Research Enhancement Award (AREA) grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The three-year grant is for the project "Characterizing the function of Syndecan during CNS development." 

“Synapse growth is the basis of learning and memory,” explains Johnson. “Syndecan is an important molecule for building the central nervous system (CNS). It tells neurons where to grow and, when neurons get to where they need to be, syndecan helps them to build a synapse. Synapses grow larger if syndecan is present, but are smaller in its absence. We now know that syndecan controls synapse size, but we don’t yet know how. This project will help us understand how syndecan works at a molecular level.“ 

The grant application received a priority score of 117 from the NIH, ranking it in the top 0.3% of applications, and was funded in its entirety. All of the preliminary data in the grant application, which is used to support the project’s feasibility, were gathered by Pomona College students working in Johnson’s lab. So far, over a dozen students have had that opportunity. In June, he plans to add five more students to his research team. 

Pomona College, one of the nation’s premier liberal arts institutions, offers a comprehensive program in the arts, humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. Its hallmarks include small classes, close relationships between students and faculty, and a range of opportunities for student research.  

Karl Johnson
The Sarah Rempel and Herbert S. Rempel Professor of Neuroscience and Assistant Professor of Biology
Pomona College
Office: (909) 607-0069; Lab: (909) 621-8637