Melanie McReynolds selected as Hanna Gray Fellow, awarded $1.4M to research aging

The dedication to science and research has created new avenues of success for one Alcorn State University alumna.

Melanie McReynolds, a Princeton University postdoctoral biochemistry researcher who graduated from Alcorn in 2009, was recently selected by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) as one of 15 Hanna Gray Fellows. As part of her selection, McReynolds was awarded $1.4 million in funding over the next eight years from HHMI.

McReynolds' latest accomplishment will allow her to pursue further research on aging and metabolism. She's thankful to see the fruits of her labor pay off.

"I feel blessed and highly favored," said McReynolds. "Being selected means the work I've done was not in vain. Over the last year, I've learned the true meaning of walking by faith and not by sight. It's beautiful to witness the seeds I've planted become a full harvest after weathering the storms."

Because of years of experience, McReynolds is confident in her ability to discover methods that would lead to better health as the body ages. 

"Over the last decade, there has been an increase of evidence supporting the notion that the decline of NAD+, an essential metabolite, is associated with aging and disease. My graduate work explained the developmental and physiological roles of NAD+. With my background and expertise in the field, this positioned me into the perfect direction to tackle this question."

During her tenure at Princeton, McReynolds has grasped many concepts that she believes can be groundbreaking in the scientific realm.

"I've been working over the last year, and I have a plethora of exciting findings that will truly impact and benefit the field. I'm looking forward to getting my work out and building on the body of scientific knowledge and literature."

Winning the award will also aid McReynolds in transitioning into her career as an independent researcher. 

"This research will also help launch my independent career. Therefore, I hope to find my specific niche in the world of aging and metabolism that will enhance the trajectory of my career and research agenda."

Once her research is done, McReynolds hopes that her findings are the keys to graceful aging.

"I'm pretty hopeful that my research will promote healthier aging. When we retire, we should be able to truly benefit from the fruit of our labor without the fear of age-associated ailments such as diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, etc. These findings will build the foundation for me to create nutraceuticals in the future that protects us from the harsh associations of aging."