$10,000 to Parkinson’s research

Assistant professor granted funding for research project

Assistant pharmaceutical professor Jennifer Lambert developed a personal interest in Parkinson’s disease after her great uncle was diagnosed. Courtesy Photo

Jennifer Lambert, an assistant professor in pharmacy, was granted $10,000 for Parkinson’s disease research.

Lambert attended Kalamazoo College for a Bachelor degree in Chemistry, and went to graduate school at the University of Michigan for a PhD in Pharmacology.

When Lambert was doing her postdoctoral fellowship at the Van Andel Institute in neurodegenerative science, she learned about a job posting for an Assistant professor of Pharmacology. 

While Lambert was looking for her postdoctoral fellowship, she was mainly interested in neuroscience and neurologic disease.

After learning about the position at the Van Andel, and that they were studying Parkinson’s disease, her interest for studying the disease grew.

“As soon as I learned more about the disease, I became extremely interested. It is such a terrible disease that has no cure, so we need as many people working on it as possible,” Lambert said. “Since starting my fellowship, I also found out that my great uncle was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, so now my interest is of a personal nature as well.”

Lambert is using her interest for neurology and linking it to Parkinson’s disease

“My hypothesis is that brain injury earlier in life can cause changes within the brain that lead to the development of Parkinson’s disease,” Lambert said.

According to Lambert, she is going to use an artificial system and cultured cells to see whether these substances cause neurodegenerative changes like those observed in human Parkinson’s disease.   

“This is a very common technique, but requires the use of large quantities of antibodies, which are very expensive,” Lambert said. “I also wanted the extra funding to be able to pay a student to assist me with the research.”

Lambert explains that she will benefit greatly from this funding and conducting research, but the student will also benefit by getting hands on experience, which could assist that student with their career opportunities.

“I think the college and university will also benefit from the increased publicity around this project, and I certainly hope that the field of Parkinson’s disease research and one day Parkinson’s patients, will benefit from the new knowledge generated through this project,” Lambert said.

For Lambert to receive this funding, she had to write a letter of interest, once the letter was accepted, she had to formally apply. Lambert waited for several months before learning her research was accepted for funding.

According to Lambert, she applied for the same funding in 2015 and was rejected. She decided to apply again after reviewing comments and suggestions.

“If I learned anything, it is that you shouldn’t be too disappointed by failure, and sometimes you need to try several times before you succeed,” Lambert said.

Lambert is humbled and motivated by the outpouring support from family, friends, colleagues and students.

“Now that my work has been recognized, I especially want to do a good job,” Lambert said. “I will try my best to deliver.”