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Doctoral student gets major research award

Kristin Dupre’s research of Parkinson’s disease has earned her a prestigious honor from the National Institutes of Health.

Dupre, a 25-year-old doctoral student in the behavioral neuroscience program, has received the National Research Service Award. The award is an NIH-funded, two-year training grant that will not only pay Dupre’s tuition but provide the time and resources needed for work on a dissertation about a disease that affects 1 million people in the United States. Fewer than 20 percent of all applicants receive funding.

“It is quite an honor to get a grant while you’re trying to get your PhD,” said Dupre, who has authored or co-authored eight published papers, including one last year in the Journal of Neuroscience. “I was ecstatic — pure happiness. I feel so blessed overall.”

Dupre works as one of four doctoral students in the lab of Christopher Bishop, assistant professor of psychology. Bishop’s lab is studying the side effects of Parkinson’s treatment: Patients taking medication often develop abnormal movements called dyskinesia after nine to 10 years. Dupre is helping to determine how a class of compounds can work to reduce the effects of dyskinesia.

 “She’s a fabulous student,” Bishop said. “What sets her apart is her willingness to learn new techniques, approach things from an innovative angle and think about things a little bit differently than others have.”

Binghamton represents a homecoming for Dupre, who grew up in Vestal and graduated from Seton Catholic Central High School. She did her undergraduate work in psychology at LeMoyne College in Syracuse. Dupre said an interview with psychology faculty members and graduate students at Binghamton solidified her plans to return to the area.

“This is my home, but I felt at home meeting the psychology department,” she said. “It just felt like the best program out of the ones I applied to.”

Dupre, who received her master’s in psychology in the spring, hopes to have a career in research and aspires to work for the NIH. But Dupre also knows the importance of having fun in light of the seriousness and importance of her research: She finds time for playing soccer, kickball and the drums.

“You have to do something or you’ll go crazy if all you do is work in the lab,” she said.

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Last Updated: 10/14/08