Research Wire

The very latest Washington University research news

Submit an item  |  Research Wire archive


6.1.20
Arpita Bose, assistant professor of biology in Arts & Sciences, received a $1,029,281 grant from the National Science Foundation to better understand the molecular underpinnings of the process in which photoautotrophic microbes convert electricity and carbon dioxide to sustainable biofuels.

The research aims to address fundamental gaps in knowledge surrounding extracellular electron uptake (EEU), or what Bose called “a paradigm shift in microbial biogeochemistry.” The project will use synthetic biology, metabolic engineering and material science to improve sustainable production of bioplastics and biofuels using phototrophic-EEU. Students from high school, undergraduate and graduate levels will participate in the research.


5.29.20
Erin Bondy, a graduate student in the BRAIN Lab in the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences in Arts & Sciences, has received a $45,520 grant from the National Institute of Mental Health, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) .

Bondy will investigate behavioral mechanisms that may underlie a link between inflammation and anhedonia, the loss of or inability to feel pleasure. She will carry out two studies examining whether variability in reward-related neural circuitry and behavior may plausibly contribute to inflammation-related anhedonia.


5.19.20
Timothy M. Lohman, the Marvin A. Brennecke Professor of Biophysics and professor of biochemistry and molecular biophysics at the School of Medicine, received a new five-year Maximizing Investigators’ Research Awards grant totaling nearly $3.8 million from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes for Health (NIH) for his research titled “Mechanisms of Helicases, Translocases and SSB Proteins involved in Genome Maintenance.”


5.12.20
During the past two decades, researchers have been able to engineer simple RNA-based genetic circuits in bacteria. They still, however, have difficulty with more complex circuits.

Toward this end, the National Science Foundation awarded a $664,519 grant to Tae Seok Moon, associate professor of energy, environmental and chemical engineering at the McKelvey School of Engineering.

The multidisciplinary project will utilize biophysics, biochemistry, molecular biology and engineering to understand generalizable design principles by which simple RNA-based genetic circuits can be combined to generate complex ones.


5.7.20
A new technology — tablet-based ultrasound — has been used to measure bone age in relation to stunted growth and nutrition in children in Ecuador. Researchers hope to use the information to better address global public health.

“We adapted field-based ultrasound technology for use in public health research, with application possibilities in other low-resource settings where access to MRI might be limited,” said Lora Iannotti, associate professor at the Brown School and expert in nutrient deficiencies related to poverty and infectious diseases. “Importantly, the imaging allowed us to examine connections between bone development and child nutrition.”

Iannotti is senior author of the paper, “US Evaluation of Bone Age in Rural Ecuadorian Children: Association with Anthropometry and Nutrition,” published in the journal Radiology.


4.27.20
Abhinav Jha, assistant professor of biomedical engineering at the McKelvey School of Engineering, and collaborators across disciplines have combined their expertise to develop a framework to more precisely determine tumor boundaries in positron emission tomography (PET) scans using physics and artificial intelligence.Results are published online in Physics in Medicine & Biology. Read more on the engineering website.


4.1.20
A recent paper in the China Journal of Social Work offers a perspective on the re-emergence of social work in China from the viewpoint of a longstanding and productive partnership between Chinese and U.S. social work educators and researchers.

The paper, “Re-emergence of Social Work in Modern China: A Perspective by Chinese and U.S. Partners,” is co-authored by the Brown School’s Michael Sherraden, the George Warren Brown Distinguished University Professor and director of the Center for Social Development (CSD); Li Zou, CSD international director; Jin Huang, research associate professor; Margaret Sherraden, research professor; and Nancy Morrow-Howell, the Betty Bofinger Brown Distinguished Professor of Social Policy; among others.


3.30.20
Darrell Hudson, associate professor at the Brown School, and Tina Sacks, of the University of California, Berkeley, have received a pipeline grant for “Gold Does Not Always Glitter,” a project to investigate the persistence of racial health disparities among upwardly mobile African Americans and whites.

The grant funding is from the Russell Sage Foundation, in partnership with the Economic Mobility and Opportunity program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.


3.6.20
Research from the McKelvey School of Engineering has shed light on a unique aspect of the role and limitations of carotenoids in regulating light harvesting efficiency in photosynthetic organisms.

The study, led by Dariusz Niedzwiedzki, a researcher at the McKelvey School of Engineering, and Andrew Hitchcock, at the University of Sheffield, looked at the relationship between structural motifs of carotenoids and their roles in light-harvesting complexes.

The findings were published online March 5 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Read more on the engineering website.


3.2.20
Five School of Medicine researchers have received Young Investigators Grants from the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation. The foundation is committed to alleviating the suffering caused by mental illness by supporting research that will lead to advances and breakthroughs in scientific research. The researchers are: Ream Al-Hasani, adjunct assistant professor of anesthesiology; Yao Chen, assistant professor of neuroscience; Rachel Lean, a postdoctoral researcher in psychiatry; Jordan McCall, assistant professor of anesthesiology; and Thomas Papouin, assistant professor of neuroscience.

Read more on the School of Medicine site.


2.27.20
A team of computer scientists at the McKelvey School of Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis is working with researchers from the Brown School and the School of Law to develop a framework for algorithms that can make decisions with fair outcomes. The game theory-based framework, to be called FairGame, will include an auditor that can determine potential fairness violations.

Yevgeniy Vorobeychik, associate professor of computer science and engineering, is principal investigator on the project, which received a three-year $444,145 grant from the National Science FoundationRead more on the engineering site.


2.26.20
Lee Sobotka, professor of chemistry and of physics, and Robert Charity, research professor of chemistry, all in Arts & Sciences, were recently awarded a three-year $1.365 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to support their studies of nuclear reactions and nuclear structure. The researchers explore the mechanisms by which common elements, such as carbon, are formed from unstable, intermediate isotopes.


2.21.20
Michael J. Holtzman, MD, the Selma and Herman Seldin Professor of Medicine and director of the Division of Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine at the School of Medicine, has received a 2020 Scholar-Innovator Award from the Harrington Discovery Institute at University Hospitals in Cleveland. He is one of six physician-scientists from the U.S. and Canada selected for a grant supporting drug development. The grant provides a total of $100,000 in funding for a new drug to correct stem cell reprogramming in the lining of the airway, in an effort to improve treatment of respiratory diseases.


2.17.20
Nan Liu, research assistant professor in physics in Arts & Sciences, received a $493,885 grant from NASA to study presolar grains in primitive meteorites. Under her new project, “Isotopic Characterization of Presolar Supernova Grains: Constraints on Dust Formation and Nucleosynthesis in Type II Supernovae,” Liu will obtain isotopic and structural compositions of presolar grains from ancient supernovae to constrain the production of elements and dust condensation. Her goal is to improve the understanding of the origins of the solar system.


2.6.20
Gilbert Gallardo, assistant professor of neurology at the School of Medicine, received a five-year, $1.96 million grant from the National Institute On Aging of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for research titled “Engineering anti-tau intrabodies that reduce tauopathy by either the proteasome, lysosome, or chaperone mediated autophagy.”


2.5.20
Brian Van Tine, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine at the School of Medicine, received a five-year, $1.81 million grant from the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for research titled “Using arginine metabolic therapies for sarcoma.”


1.27.20
Lawrence H. Snyder, MD, PhD, professor of neuroscience at the School of Medicine and of psychological and brain sciences in  Arts  & Sciences, received a five-year $2.55 million grant from the National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for research titled “Interhemispheric communication underlying bimanual and eye-hand coordination.”


1.24.20
Daniel Kreisel, MD, PhD, professor of surgery and of pathology and immunology, and Andrew Gelman, professor of surgery, both at the School of Medicine, received a four-year $2.12 million grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for research titled “The role of ischemia reperfusion injury in lung allograft rejection.”


1.21.20
Jonathan Brestoff, MD, PhD, assistant professor of pathology and immunology at the School of Medicine, received a five-year $1.96 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for a project titled “Regulation of innate immune cell responses through cell-to-cell transfer of mitochondria”; and a two-year $60,000 grant from the Children’s Discovery Institute for a project titled “The role of cell-to-cell transfer of mitochondria in regulation of metabolism and obesity.”


1.21.20
Chang Liu, MD, PhD, assistant professor of pathology and immunology at the School of Medicine, received a two-year $300,000 grant from the Edward Mallinckrodt Jr. Foundation for a project titled “Depleting antigen-specific B cells for antibody-mediated graft rejection”; and a one-year, $59,989 grant from The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital for a project titled “Targeting antigen-specific B cells by HLA-Fc fusion protein for antibody-mediated rejection.”


1.17.20
Cole John Ferguson, MD, an instructor in pathology and immunology at the School of Medicine, received a five-year, $164,015 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for a project titled “Ubiquitin signaling in epigenetic regulation of neuronal development.”


1.15.20
Mayssa Mokalled, assistant professor of developmental biology, has received a five-year, $1.93 million grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for her project titled “Mechanisms of glial bridging and neurogenesis during spinal cord regeneration in zebrafish.”


1.13.20
David M. Ornitz, MD, PhD, the Alumni Endowed Professor of Developmental Biology, and Robert Gereau, the Dr. Seymour and Rose T. Brown Professor of Anesthesiology, both at the School of Medicine, received a two-year, $100,000 grant from the Hope Center for Neurological Disorders for their project titled “Determining the pathogenic role of FGFR3 autoantibodies in small fiber neuropathy.”

Also, Ornitz — together with David T. Curiel, MD, PhD, the Distinguished Professor of Radiation Oncology, and Kel Vin Woo, MD, PhD, a fellow in pediatric cardiology — received a three-year, $450,000 grant from the Children’s Discovery Institute for their project titled “Targeting the FGF signaling pathway as a novel therapy for Hypoxia-induced pulmonary hypertension.”


1.13.20
Victoria Church, a postdoctoral research scholar in the lab of Andrew S. Yoo,  associate professor of developmental biology at the School of Medicine, received a three-year, $165,000 postdoctoral fellowship award from the William N. & Bernice E. Bumpus Foundation for her project titled “Modeling PD with patient-derived directly reprogrammed neurons.”


1.10.20
Quing Zhu, professor of biomedical engineering at the McKelvey School of Engineering, will work with a team of physicians at the School of Medicine to add an imaging method to the current standard of care for women at high risk for ovarian cancer.

With a five-year $2.55 million  grant from the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the team will use an innovative combined photoacoustic and ultrasound technology (PAT/US), which Zhu and her team developed, to conduct a clinical study. The goal is to determine whether the technology can better detect whether an ovarian mass is cancerous or benign, therefore improving current clinical practice. Read more on the engineering website.


1.7.20
Valeria Cavalli, professor of neuroscience at the School of Medicine, received a $300,000 Stein Innovation Award from Research to Prevent Blindness to explore ways to support the survival or regeneration of cells in the eye in order to prevent blindness caused by glaucoma.


1.3.20
Laura Ibanez, a postdoctoral research associate in neurogenetics and informatics in the laboratory of Carlos Cruchaga at the School of Medicine, has received a $281,370 grant from the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation to study gene products associated with Alzheimer’s disease that can be found in the blood. The project will use next-generation sequencing to measure gene products known as cell-free ribonucleic acids (cfRNA) in the blood of Alzheimer’s patients, pre-symptomatic patients and cognitively normal individuals, to create novel prognostic and diagnostic models of Alzheimer’s disease risk and age at onset.

A coalition of philanthropists, including Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Leonard A. Lauder, created the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation in 2018. They have committed to funding nearly $50 million in research to improve Alzheimer’s treatments.


1.2.20
Three scientists at the School of Medicine and Siteman Cancer Center will receive $600,000 in funding over two years for their innovative approach to detecting a type of advanced prostate cancer.

A test exists that detects resistant tumors in metastatic prostate cancer patients; however, the funding from the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Research Fund is meant to speed development of a more advanced test that aims to identify these cancers earlier and with better sensitivity. The recipients are: Aadel Chaudhuri, MD, PhD; Christopher Maher; and Russell Pachynski, MD. Read more on the Siteman website.


See more in the Research Wire Archive