April 2014


DSU's Dr. Michael Gitcho Receives $100,000 Research Grant

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Dr. Michael Gitcho, the recipient of a $100,000 grant for Alzheimer research, stands with Katie Macklin, executive director for the Delaware region of the Alzheimer's Association Delaware Valley Chapter, during her recent visit to DSU. The national Alzheimer's Association provided the research grant for Dr. Gitcho's work.

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Dr. Michael Gitcho, a DSU assistant professor of biological sciences, was recently awarded a $100,000 research grant from the Alzheimer’s Association to support his ongoing investigations in the area of Alzheimer’s disease.    Dr. Gitcho’s research focuses on a protein (TDP-43) that is critical to the normal function of the brain cell.  When TDP-43 is altered, this results in the development of neurological diseases, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and dementia.  Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, accounting for 70 to 80% of all cases, and the greatest risk factor is aging.    This progressive disease slowly destroys memory, thinking and reasoning, and over time it makes even the simplest tasks impossible to do.  Currently, there are an estimated 5.3 million people aged 65 and older with the disease and it is projected that over the next 10 years there will be an additional 10 million diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.    Dr. Gitcho and colleagues have observed that mice engineered to have a pathology similar to that observed in Alzheimer's disease also have an increased level of abnormal TDP-43 (TDP-43 has been found to be altered in up to 50% of those with Alzheimer’s disease).  Dr. Gitcho is hopeful that his research will provide insights into the relationship between TDP-43 and Alzheimer’s disease which could provide us a better understanding of how this devastating disease progresses and, in turn, lead to the development of new therapeutics.   Dr. Leonard Davis, chair, Department of Biological Sciences, stated that “Alzheimer’s disease is a major public health issue that devastates not only the patient but the entire family.  Dr. Gitcho’s research, supported by the Alzheimer’s Association, is opening new avenues of possible treatments that could remedy this disease.  It is a great opportunity for our students to participate in such ‘cutting edge’ research.”   Dr. Noureddine Melikechi, dean of the DSU College of Mathematics, Natural Sciences and Technology, said that DSU is proud to partner with the Alzheimer’s Association. “In particular, we are pleased to have Dr. Gitcho working on a disease that affects such a vast number of citizens. Out of this collaboration, we look forward to building a stronger relationship with the Alzheimer’s Association as we grow the sciences at DSU, especially in the area of neuroscience,” said Dr. Melikechi, who also serves as the University’s vice president for Research, Innovation and Economic Development.   Dr. Gitcho joined DSU in the Fall of 2013 and maintains a lab in the Biological Sciences department.   The Delaware Valley Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association is the local arm of the national nonprofit organization, serving 18 counties in Delaware, South Jersey, and Southeastern Pennsylvania. The Chapter provides programs and services to more than 294,000 individuals and families affected by Alzheimer’s or a related disorder. For information about the Chapter and the disease, visit alz.org/desjsepa, or call the 24/7 Helpline at (800) 272-3900. 

DSU Awarded Historic $1,050,000 for Osher Reentry Scholarships

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The Bernard Osher Foundation’s grant is also the largest scholarship contribution from a private source in the University’s 123-year history.

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Delaware State University has received a historic $1,050,000 grant from The Bernard Osher Foundation to permanently establish DSU’s Osher Reentry Scholarship Endowment, ensuring that significant scholarships will be annually available to nontraditional students. The Bernard Osher Foundation’s grant is also the largest scholarship contribution from a private source in the University’s 123-year history. The Osher Reentry Program at DSU is the only such program in the state of Delaware benefiting nontraditional students. Nontraditional students are defined as being over the age of 25 and either resuming their higher education after an interruption of five years or beginning the steps toward a degree later in life.  Osher Reentry Scholars – the scholarship recipients – can be full-time or part-time students and receive tuition scholarships of up to $5,000 each. Recipients may be awarded a scholarship again in subsequent years.  Dr. Harry L. Williams, DSU president, announced the gift at the State Capitol during the April 10 DSU Day at the Legislature. The DSU president said The Bernard Osher Foundation and Delaware State University are in agreement when it comes to prompting adults that degree completion is within their reach. “As a state institution, it is important for DSU to be a viable option on the undergraduate level not only for young people who just finished high school, but also for adults who never completed their academic journey or who long to begin their journey at an older age,” Dr. Williams said. “DSU has long had a diverse variety of academic offerings that address the professional dreams of nontraditional students. Thanks to the generosity of the Osher Foundation, the University now has a scholarship pathway to help the students fund what they thought could not be possible. It truly is the push so many may just need.” The Osher Foundation began its relationship with DSU during the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 academic years, when it provided grants during each school year for scholarships for nontraditional students. Osher Reentry Scholarships were awarded during those years to adult DSU students from Delaware who demonstrated academic promise and a commitment to complete a degree program.  According to Dr. Mary Bitterman, president of The Bernard Osher Foundation, confidence in DSU’s administration of the first two consecutive grants led to an invitation to apply for an endowment to permanently establish the Osher Reentry Scholarship Program.  “I am delighted that Delaware State University will now have an opportunity to continue supporting an increasing number of nontraditional students in the state of Delaware and the region,” Dr. Bitterman said.  “We have been impressed with DSU’s excellent stewardship of the Osher Reentry Scholars program, including the identification of processes that make the matriculation of nontraditional students easier and more productive. We congratulate the leadership of DSU and hold high hopes for the fine Osher Scholars at the University now and those who will follow them in the years to come.” Redinand Marcos, a junior nursing major at DSU, feels that becoming an Osher Reentry Scholar (2013-2014) means he is not alone in his journey to degree completion at DSU.  “There are times I want to give up, but I gather back my strength knowing that someday I can make a difference in somebody’s life being a nurse,” he said. “The scholarship has given me inspiration to continue on to strive hard for my dream.” Rebecca Sahraoui, a junior biology major, is honored to become an Osher Reentry Scholar (2013-2014).  “My ability to come back to school at my age has affected my life positively; the story of how I ended up at Delaware State University is filled with so many challenges that I have overcome. I am very passionate about the opportunities I was given at such a difficult time in my life.” At present, there are 90 universities and colleges in 50 states participating in this program. The Osher Foundation, founded in 1977, seeks to improve quality of life through support for higher education and the arts. The Osher Foundation provides post-secondary scholarship funding to colleges and universities across the nation, with special attention to reentry students. DSU is currently accepting applications for 2014-2015 Osher Reentry Scholars. Interested students should contact the Office of Development at dsufoundation@desu.edu or (302) 857-6055.  

DSU's Dr. Ladji Sacko named as a Fulbright Scholar for 2nd time

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Dr. Ladji Sacko will serve as a Fulbright scholar by teaching English instruction in West Africa.

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Dr. Ladji Sacko, associate professor in the Department of English and Foreign Languages, is DSU’s latest recipient of the J. William Fulbright Award. It is the second time that Dr. Sacko has been named as a Fulbright scholar. He previously received the award during the 2001-2002 school year, leading to his work in teaching English in Senegal that year. In connection with the current award, Dr. Sacko will spend the 2014-2015 school year at the University of Abidjan, in the country of Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) in West Africa. During his time there, he will be training teachers to give English instruction in secondary schools. Dr. Sacko has been a DSU faculty member since 2004.

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