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February 18, 2011

SIU Med School Awards Research Funds from Springfield’s “Night Officer”

A fund established by the late Bernie Eskridge, a lifelong resident of Springfield, has awarded its second grant for heart research.  Julio Copello, Ph.D., associate professor of pharmacology, has received a grant from the Bernie L. and Annie Marie Eskridge bequest, named the Eskridge Translational Research Award in Cardiovascular Disease.

Copello will use his award to study the process of intracellular calcium signaling in heart physiology.  Calcium leaks from its normal location in heart cells, damaging the cells and interfering with the heart’s ability to pump blood.  His research will study molecules that allow the calcium leakage to occur.  Knowledge from this research may allow the development of new drugs to target this problem.  The award total is $49,740.

Eskridge was best known as the night officer at Springfield City Hall and also worked at various other Springfield-based companies and agencies.  He died in 2004 and had directed $450,000 from his estate be used for cardiac research at the medical school.

Copello joined the SIU faculty in 2005.   He earned his doctoral degree at the National University of La Plata in Argentina (1989), where he also earned a master’s degree (1983).  He earned his bachelor’s at Jose de San Martin National School, also in Argentina (1972).

The mission of the SIU School of Medicine is to assist the people of central and southern Illinois in meeting their health needs through education, patient care, research and community service.  SIU’s research efforts cover a wide range of basic and clinical sciences.  Currently more than 230 research projects funded by outside organizations, primarily federal agencies, are underway in 100-plus laboratories.  For information, call SIU’s main number, 217-545-8000, or go online,

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Note to media: A jpg formal or environmental portrait of Copello is available on request via phone or by email at