University of Richmond biology professor Isaac Skromne has been awarded a $200,000 National Science Foundation grant to support his research with zebrafish and bone disease.

This is his second NSF grant in a month. In July he received a $400,000 NSF grant for his work using zebrafish to explore the development and evolution of cells in the central nervous system.

For this project, Skromne will explore administering medication directly to bones and possible solutions for reversing the effects of bone diseases, like osteoporosis.

Skromne, a developmental biologist who has taught at Richmond since 2017, will inject carbon dots, particles that can be used as a vehicle to deliver medication directly to bones, into zebrafish embryos and adults. One goal of the exploratory project is targeted treatment.

“Currently medications for bone diseases are not targeted and, therefore, impact other parts of the body,” Skromne explains. “For example, a medication for osteoporosis might cause a patient side effects such as nausea. Administering medication directly to bones may help.”

He is also exploring possible solutions for reversing the effects of bone diseases.

“This research may lead us to regeneration options to reverse calcium that has been lost,” Skromne said.

Zebrafish are ideal subjects for this type of research because they have regenerative properties and the embryos are transparent, making it possible to see what is occurring inside the body. Skromne is also breeding a special type of zebrafish called Caspers, which remain transparent into adulthood.

At least two UR undergraduates will have the opportunity to work with Skromne on this research project, which is also supported with funding from the National Institutes of Health – National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Learn more in this media release.

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The National Science Foundation is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; and to secure the national defense. NSF supports basic research and people to create knowledge that transforms the future. The NSF is supporting Skromne’s project, ""Development of non-toxic carbon dots as bone-specific carrier for drug delivery.” with a three-year $207,623 grant.


Assistant Professor of Biology