Life Sciences Initiative funds 12 projects

jbrehm2, June 30, 2011 | View original publication

Life Sciences Initiative funds 12 projects

Twelve projects proposed by interdisciplinary teams received seed funding in the UNL Life Sciences Initiative’s inaugural competitive grants program.

The internal grants competition is designed to encourage faculty to build multidisciplinary teams across departments, centers and colleges to tackle new life sciences research projects. Jointly funded by the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the Office of Research and Economic Development, the grants are for two years and funding begins July 1.

Grants support initial research so teams can gather the preliminary data needed to compete more successfully for external funding.

“We have great scientific expertise within our departments at UNL,” said Deb Hamernik, interim associate vice chancellor for research. “This funding is designed to encourage projects that tap expertise across departments to tackle big ideas and problems.”

Here is a list of funded projects, followed by the principal investigator and co-investigators:

• Improving Drought Tolerance and Application to Camelina, a New Crop for Nebraska and a New Crop Research Plant: Michael Fromm, agronomy and horticulture and Center for Biotechnology; Zoya Avramova, biological sciences; Ed Cahoon, biochemistry and Center for Plant Science Innovation; Sabrina Russo, biological sciences; Jean-Jack Riethoven, Center for Biotechnology.
• Exploration of the Gut Microbiome to Identify Bacterial Systems that Degrade Immunotoxic Gluten Peptides: Jens Walter, food science and technology; Steve Taylor, food science and technology; Nandakumar Madayiputhiya, biochemistry.
• Function of AGO2/AGO3-Mediated Gene Silencing in Plant Immune Responses: Bin Yu, biological sciences; Jim Alfano, plant pathology; Chi Zhang, biological sciences; all also Center for Plant Science Innovation.
• Real-time Monitoring of Biofuel Production from Biomass Using Coherent Anti-Stocks Raman Scattering (CARS) Spectroscopy and Microscopy: Yongfeng Lu, electrical engineering; Paul Black, biochemistry.
• MicroRNA Regulators and Gene Co-Expression Networks as Models for the Enhancement of Algal Bioenergy Production: Steve Ladunga, statistics; Donald Weeks, biochemistry; Jean-Jack Riethoven, Center for Biotechnology.
• Analysis of Signal Transducing Proteins Toward Biomedical Application: Etsuko Moriyama, biological sciences and Center for Plant Science Innovation; Shunpu Zhang, statistics; Bo Deng, mathematics; Steven Dunbar, mathematics; Stephen Hartke, mathematics; Guoqing Lu, UNO; Thomas Wilkie, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.
• A Systems Biology Approach to the Stress Response: Interdisciplinary Research on Soybean Aphid: Nicholas Miller, entomology; Ryan Bickel, biological sciences; Jennifer Brisson, biological sciences; Tiffany Heng-Moss, entomology; Blair Siegfried, entomology; Anthony Zera, biological sciences; Renu Nandakumar, biochemistry.
• Fatty Acid Analogs as Novel Therapeutic Agents for Pathogenic Mycobacteria: Patrick Dussault, chemistry; Raul Barletta, veterinary medicine and biomedical sciences; Andy Benson, food science and technology; Ken Nickerson, biological sciences; Robert Powers, chemistry.
• Developing a Platform for High-Throughput Field Phenotyping of Stress Response in Maize: Aaron Lorenz, agronomy and horticulture; Richard Ferguson, agronomy and horticulture; George Meyer, biological systems engineering; Greg Kruger, agronomy and horticulture.
• A Systems Approach to Discover "Stress Gene Networks" in Plants: Harkamal Walia, agronomy and horticulture; Chi Zhang, biological sciences and Center for Plant Science Innovation.
• Mechanisms of Micronutrient Control of Epigenetic Marks in Stem Cells: Angela Pannier, biological systems engineering; Janos Zempleni, nutrition and health sciences; Dong Wang, statistics.
• Gene Therapy Against Neurodegenerative Disorders Associated with Pesticide Exposure: Rodrigo Franco-Cruz, veterinary medicine and biomedical sciences; Ming Li, psychology; Nandakumar Madayiputhiya, biochemistry.