Biology Professor Linda Boland Collaborates on NIH Grant For Creation of Tool to Study Electrical Activity of Nerve Cells

November 17, 2020

Linda Boland Headshot Pictured above: Linda Boland discusses research experiements in her lab with undergraduate research student Jean Patrick Gonzales, Class of 2022.

UNIVERSITY OF RICHMOND ─ Professor of Biology Linda Boland has been awarded a National Institutes of Health grant to support the creation of a tool to amplify electrical activity in cells to make them easier to measure. Boland specializes in ion channels, proteins in our body that allow cells to use low magnitude electrical signals to relay information to other cells. 

“As an analogy, the electrical current in each of our nerve cells is 1 billion times less than that used by your computer,” said Boland. “That’s a weak signal, and we need to amplify it to better measure and understand it.” 

Studying ion channels is important for a variety of biomedical applications and targeted pharmaceutical treatments. Boland’s award is part of a larger NIH grant awarded to the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota.

“They will be building the new tool with a team of undergraduates, and my research group, which includes UR undergraduate students, will inform the design, assist with developing research questions, and prototype experiments that will test it and show the research applications,” said Boland.

Once complete, the tool will be available open source for other faculty and students, which lowers the barrier to access and will advance scientific knowledge in the fields of molecular physiology and neuroscience. 

“This is a new concept that bridges the gap between science, undergraduate education,  and business, and it’s exciting to be part of something that other labs will be able to use,” Boland said.


The National Institutes of Health, a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is the nation’s medical research agency — making important discoveries that improve health and save lives.