The Max and Minnie Tomerlin Voelcker Fund awarded its three-year $450,000 Voelcker Fund Young Investigator Award to Lindsey Macpherson, a UTSA assistant professor of neuroscience and developmental and regenerative biology for research conducted on the loss of taste and its correlation to chemotherapy. Macpherson is an expert in her field of studying taste and its molecules, the cells, and circuits associated with chemosensation.
Macpherson’s discussions on taste research frequently pique the interest of those who have undergone cancer treatments or may know someone who has shared similar experiences.
“When I conduct talks about taste research, I always get people coming up to tell me how themselves or a friend went through chemotherapy treatment and completely lost their sense of taste, along with how long it took to recover,” Macpherson said in UTSA Today. “That resonated with me and was something I was interested in following up on.”
The innovative research conducted by Macpherson and her department’s team of student researchers could potentially signal a better understanding for improving the prognosis for patients whose taste connections are affected by chemotherapy.
“One of the most stressful parts of most chemotherapy is the nausea and things like that, but a close second is loss of taste,” Macpherson said. “Once chemotherapy patients begin to recover from a round of treatment, being able to eat and keep up their nutrition is very important and helps add to quality of life.”
The Voelcker Fund Young Investigator Awards lend financial support to young scientists while they pursue medical research for a host of illnesses and diseases, including finding cures for cancer. For their part, Macpherson and her team will examine ways the neuron and receptor cell connections can be disrupted in the process of chemotherapy, its potential for returning to normal, and identifying patients who may be more susceptible for prolonged taste loss.