Research Wire: November 2018

Christine Pham, MD, director of the rheumatology division, and Deborah Lenschow, MD, PhD, associate professor, both in the Department of Medicine at the School of Medicine, have been awarded a $3.1 million grant by the National Institutes of Health (NIH)’s National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases to establish a rheumatic diseases research center. The center will provide resources to accelerate basic and translational research into rheumatic diseases, potentially improving treatment for people suffering from arthritis, lupus, vasculitis, which is inflammation of the blood vessels, and scleroderma, an autoimmune disease characterized by hardening and tightening of the skin and connective tissues.

The National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded Corina Anastasaki, a senior scientist in neurology at the School of Medicine, $786,000 to develop human stem-cell models to study cancers of the nervous system caused by mutations in the neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) gene. The goal is to understand why mutations in the same gene manifest differently and pave the way toward personalized medicine for NF1.

Erika Waters, associate professor of surgery at the School of Medicine, received a four-year, $2.58 million grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for research titled “Child Asthma Exacerbation: Role of Caregiver Risk Beliefs.” Read more on the NIH website.

Ying Liu, MD, PhD, assistant professor of surgery at the School of Medicine, received a three-year, $1 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for the project titled “Residential Mobility, Treatment Quality and Survival in Low-Income Women with Breast Cancer.” Graham Colditz, MD, DrPH, the Niess-Gain Professor of Surgery, is a co-investigator.

Hongxi Yin, InCEES associate professor of architecture at the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts, received an $89,766 grant from the National Science Foundation to develop a thermoelectric (TE) concrete brick for the construction of building exterior envelopes. Yin will study the thermal and energy behavior of TE concrete envelopes using building energy simulation tools, and researchers will survey people to evaluate the product’s thermal comfort aspects.

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded a $3.5 million grant to study how live bacteria can be used for drug delivery to Gautam Dantas, professor of pathology and immunology, and Thaddeus Stappenbeck, the Conan Professor of Laboratory and Genomic Medicine, both at the School of Medicine, and Tae Seok Moon, associate professor of energy, environmental and chemical engineering at the School of Engineering & Applied Science. The aim is to develop probiotic treatments for the metabolic disorder phenylketonuria and other diseases.

Alison Cahill, MD, associate professor, and Yong Wang, assistant professor, both of obstetrics and gynecology at the School of Medicine, received a five-year, $3.25 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH)’s National Institute of Child Health and Human Development for a project titled “Applying diffusion basis spectrum imaging to characterize human placenta immuno-response during normal term and preterm pregnancies.”

Philip Skemer, associate professor of earth and planetary sciences in Arts & Sciences, won a $14,000 grant from the Missouri Space Grant Consortium in support of augmented reality tools for visualization, teaching and data exploration in the planetary sciences. The funds will allow expanded student and faculty use of the Fossett Laboratory for Virtual Planetary Exploration.

James DuBois, the Steven J. Bander Professor of Medical Ethics and Professionalism at the School of Medicine, received a five-year, $2.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH)’s National Institute on Aging for a research project titled “Implementing Evidence-based Informed Consent Practices to Address the Risk of Alzheimer’s Dementia and Cognitive Impairment in Clinical Trials.”

Blair Madison, assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology at the School of Medicine, has received a four-year, $792,000 Research Scholar Grant from the American Cancer Society to study the effects of microRNAs in the course and prognosis of colorectal cancer. The grant will fund studies to engineer and analyze mouse models, with a goal of identifying fluctuations in microRNA levels that may lead to the genesis and later development of colorectal tumors.

Jin-Moo Lee, MD, PhD, professor of neurology, and Peter D. Panagos, MD, professor of emergency medicine, both at the School of Medicine, received a $1.2 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant to establish the Mid-America Regional Coordinating Center as part of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke’s StrokeNet. StrokeNet is a group of 25 leading U.S. medical centers with the goal of developing, promoting and conducting high-quality, multisite clinical trials focused on key interventions in stroke prevention, treatment and recovery. Learn more about the project on the StrokeNet website.

Douglas A. Wiens, the Robert S. Brookings Distinguished Professor in earth and planetary sciences in Arts & Sciences, will undertake a collaborative research project titled “Investigating ice sheet-solid Earth feedbacks in West Antarctica: Implications for ice sheet evolution and stability,” with a $424,000 grant from the National Science Foundation.

Andrea Soranno, assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biophysics at the School of Medicine, received a one year $46,296 New Investigator Award in Alzheimer’s Disease from the American Federation for Aging Research Inc. for his work titled “Identifying Neurotoxic Conformers in the Structural Ensemble of apoE.”

Mikhail Berezin, associate professor of radiology at the School of Medicine, received a $300,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH)’s National Cancer Institute for research titled “Neuro-muscular junction based mechanism of chemotherapy-induced cachexia.” Cachexia-related changes reduce physical, emotional and social well-being and significantly decrease the chances of survival in millions of cancer patients.

Separately, Berezin received a $200,000 grant from the National Science Foundation for the project “Interactive Software for Hyperspectral Image Analysis.” The project aims to set a new software architecture capable of analyzing complex and computationally challenging datasets recorded by hyperspectral imaging systems.

Richard D. Vierstra, the George and Charmaine Mallinckrodt Professor in the Department of Biology in Arts & Sciences, received a $304,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for a project titled “Phytochromes: Structural perspectives on photoactivation and signaling.” Vierstra was also granted $49,000 from the NIH to study autophagic clearance of inactive proteasomes and ribosomes as models for protein quality control.

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