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Source: Purdue University news release

Associate professor of animal sciences Shihuan Kuang will receive Purdue University's 2014 Agricultural Research Award for his work in stem cell biology and the regulation of muscle and adipose tissues.

The award is given each year to a faculty member in the College of Agriculture with fewer than 18 years of experience beyond a doctoral degree. It is for scientists who have demonstrated a high level of excellence in research and made significant contributions to agriculture, natural resources and quality of life for Indiana citizens.

"Shihuan's groundbreaking research has crucial implications for both food animal agriculture and human health," said Karen Plaut, director of agricultural research and senior associate dean for research and faculty affairs.

"He has significantly contributed to our understanding of how stem cells differentiate in muscle tissue and fat. Shihuan also has been passionate about mentoring the students who will become the next generation of scientists."

Kuang's research spans agriculture and human medicine, exploring issues of meat quality and muscle development and repair, two areas he described as "remarkably similar."

He found that transplanted stem cells survive far better if they are grown in the low oxygen levels native to the human body. This finding could greatly improve the efficiency of clinical practices used to treat muscle-wasting diseases.

Kuang now is looking at how muscle tissue could influence other tissues, such as adipose tissue, or fat, whose accumulation leads to obesity. His team has discovered several muscle-derived factors that control body-fat content, and yet more discoveries are in the pipeline, he said.

"Dr. Kuang's research in stem cell biology promises to help improve meat yield and quality by enhancing the efficiency of animal growth," said Jay Akridge, the Glenn W. Sample Dean of Agriculture.

"His work may also lead to new insight for the treatment of human degenerative muscle diseases such as muscular dystrophy. Dr. Kuang is a talented and highly productive scientist, and this recognition is most deserved."

Kuang will receive the award Wednesday (May 7) at 3:30 p.m. Eastern time in Pfendler Hall's Deans Auditorium on the West Lafayette campus. He will give a seminar on "Muscle-fat Crosstalk and its Implications in Animal Growth and Human Health." A reception will follow the ceremony.

The award includes $10,000 to support Kuang's research program, a $1,500 honorarium and a commemorative plaque.

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