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COLUMBIA, Mo. – Today, University of Missouri System President Mun Choi, along with the four university chancellors and the vice president for research and economic development, announced a series of investments in research and creative works that will help the system’s four universities achieve excellence through innovation. The investments total $20.5 million, with $11 million coming from the system and $9.5 million from UM universities.
“Within the UM System, we have an outstanding group of faculty members who are committed to research excellence,” Choi said. “It’s our job as academic leaders to provide them with the opportunities and resources to significantly grow research efforts that are bold and transformative, especially as it pertains to our highest priority, the NextGen Precision Health Initiative and Institute. These projects will be critical to catalyzing the collaboration and infrastructure investments that are needed to grow extramural funding for our universities.”
This investment supports the UM System’s vision to advance opportunities for success and well-being for Missouri, our nation and the world through transformative teaching, research, innovation, engagement and inclusion. Choi has identified research as a key investment area along with areas such as affordability. Growing the research enterprise helps to attract research dollars, distinguished faculty members and students, many of whom engage in research as undergraduates.
“These projects will help address grand challenges facing our world, foster collaboration systemwide and provide instruments and facilities to enhance faculty research,” said Mark McIntosh, UM System vice president for research and economic development and MU vice chancellor for research and economic development. “I am proud of the investments we are making in research to provide meaningful outcomes. I look forward to seeing what we can accomplish together.”
The invested funds will help train the next generation of leaders to meet workforce needs, create breakthrough discoveries to improve the human condition and convey the benefits of teaching and research to Missouri communities.
This year, there are 19 innovative research projects that will receive funding from the UM System and its four universities. The projects include research supporting the core instruments and infrastructure of the NextGen Precision Health Institute; research advancing the systemwide NextGen Precision Health Initiative; and research serving other key priorities of the UM System’s four universities.
Research that supports the NextGen Precision Health Initiative and Institute
- Missouri University of Science and Technology’s Richard Brow is leading a project to purchase thermal, mechanical and optical characterization equipment for the Center for Glass Science and Technology, including an electron microprobe that will significantly enhance research capabilities across the UM System. Brow is joined by Ming C. Leu, Julia Medvedeva and Julie Semon with Missouri S&T, as well as MU’s Yezaz Ghouri.
- University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Praveen Rao and MU’s Prasad Calyam are leading a project to develop a hyper-converged computational hub that will be capable of analyzing and storing massive datasets to support the NextGen Precision Health Initiative as well as other collaborative research projects across the UM System. They are joined by Zhu Li and Viviana Grieco with UMKC, Peter Tonellato, Deepthi Rao, Timothy Middelkoop, Kannappan Palaniappan, Satish Nair, Ye Duan and Trupti Joshi with MU, as well as Missouri S&T’s Sanjay Madria. In the coming months, university leaders will coordinate with Rao and Calyam and other faculty colleagues to leverage this investment to develop the NextGen Data Analytics Center with donors and industry partners.
- MU’s David Robertson is leading a project to provide critical infrastructure and collaborative expertise to researchers who have ideas that can attract national funding but lack the personal expertise or laboratory facilities to fully develop a radiopharmaceutical product. The long-term vision is to develop a research pipeline where radiopharmaceutical agents can be developed by faculty systemwide, tested in cell cultures and small animals at the Institute for Nano and Molecular Innovation (INMI), then in large animals at the Veterinary Health Center, with eventual in-person studies at the NextGen Precision Health Institute. Robertson is joined by Jeff Smith, Silvia Jurisson, Jeffrey Bryan and Tom Quinn.
- MU’s Michael Chapman is leading a project to investigate fundamental bio-molecular interactions and enable pharmaceutical development. Chapman is joined by Donald Burke-Aguero, Jack Tanner, Tommi White, Lloyd Sumner and Xiaolan Yao. In the coming months, university leaders will coordinate with Chapman and other faculty colleagues to leverage this investment to develop a center of excellence in electron microscopy with donors and industry partners.
- MU’s Wesley Warren is leading a project to provide researchers with the latest disruptive technology that offers quantum enhancements in speed, volume and quality of DNA sequencing at a significantly lower cost. Warren is joined by Leslie Lyons, Robert Schnabel, Kevin F. Staveley-O’Carroll, Douglas C. Miller and Peter J. Tonellato.
- University of Missouri-St. Louis’ Cynthia Dupureur is leading a project to upgrade UMSL’s Microscope Imaging and Spectroscopy Technology (MIST) Laboratory, which will support efforts to compete for top-tier funding opportunities, strengthen industry ties through collaboration and provide the best training for the next generation of scientists. Dupureur is joined by Michael R. Nichols, Xuemin Wang, Lon Chubiz, Keith Stine and R. Fredrik Inglis.
- UMSL’s Alexei Demchenko is leading a project to establish the Glycoscience Consortium, which will build collaborations to accelerate the rational design, synthesis and evaluation of carbohydrate-based drugs. Demchenko is joined by Eike B. Bauer, Michael R. Nichols, Christopher D. Spilling, Keith J. Stine and Chung F. Wong.
- MU’s Timothy Glass is leading a project aimed at utilizing the MU Research Reactor (MURR) to discover new radiopharmaceutical agents and bring cancer imaging and therapy agents to patients faster. Glass is joined by Charles Maitz, Dave Robertson, Jeff Smith and Silvia Jurisson.
- MU’s Donald Burke- Agüero is leading a project to develop therapies that will kill cancer tumors while preserving healthy tissue by using DNA-like molecules to recognize and bind to cancer targets. Burke- Agüero is joined by Mark Daniels, Diego Avella, Jusuf Kaifi, Jeff Smith and David Porciani.
- MU’s Kerry McDonald is leading a project to better understand heart failure progression in patients with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a genetic disorder of progressive muscular weakness. McDonald hopes to target the most effective therapy for a patient’s unique genetic background. McDonald is joined by Maike Krenz.
- MU’s David Gozal is leading a project to better understand the cellular connection between obesity and vascular disease, and to develop new targeted therapies for cardiovascular disease. Gozal is joined by Leila Kheirandish-Gozal, Abdelnaby Khalyfa, Jaume Padilla, Luis A. Martinez-Lemus and Camila Manrique.
- MU’s Thomas Spencer is leading a project to open new possibilities to study early pregnancy, develop reproductive therapies and solve fertility problems that affect half of all women worldwide during their life. Spencer is joined by Toshihiko Ezashi, Amanda Patterson, Laura Schulz, Danny Schust and Bret Ulery.
- MU’s Deborah Anderson is leading a project to study insect vectors to better understand the mechanics that drive the spread of disease and develop new approaches for diagnosis and treatment. Anderson is joined by Brenda Beerntsen, Donald Burke-Agüero, Deborah Finke, Alexander Franz and Bret Ulery.
Serving other key priorities of the UM System’s four universities:
- Missouri S&T’s Kamal Khayat is leading a project to pioneer creation of portland cement-free binders that are not only more sustainable and efficient, but also stronger, more durable and longer-lasting than traditional portland cement binders. Khayat is joined by Sajal Das, Aditya Kumar and Hongyan Ma with Missouri S&T, as well as UMSL’s George Zsidisin. This project also serves as a co-investment for the newly created Missouri Center for Transportation Innovation, a new UM System center involving all four universities, to support transportation research and development needs of Missouri Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration.
- Missouri S&T’s Genda Chen is leading a project to rebuild U.S. infrastructure, including buildings, bridges, roads, tunnels and electrical grids, by using data analytics, robotics and artificial intelligence. Chen is joined by Jenny Liu, Suzanna Long and Zhaozheng Yin with Missouri S&T, as well as MU’s Bill Buttlar. This project also serves as a co-investment for the newly created Missouri Center for Transportation Innovation, a new UM System center involving all four universities, to support transportation research and development needs of Missouri Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration.
- MU’s Bill Buttlar is leading a project to build and strengthen UM System research teams that can successfully compete for National Science Foundation funding and gain support from industry and other agencies. Buttlar is joined by MU’s Bimal Balakrishnan, Tojan Rahhal and Enos Inniss, Missouri S&T’s Kamal Khayat and UMKC’s Tony Luppino. This project also serves as a co-investment for the newly created Missouri Center for Transportation Innovation, a new UM System center involving all four universities, to support transportation research and development needs of Missouri Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration.
- MU’s Chi-Ren Shyu is leading a project to create innovative tools to efficiently organize geospatial resource data in a community-based repository for use across the UM System and beyond. Shyu is joined by MU’s Eileen Avery, Grant Scott, Lincoln Sheets and Henry X. Wan, UMKC’s Douglas Bowles and Missouri S&T’s Stephen S. Gao.
- Missouri S&T’s Mehdi Ferdowsi is leading a project to construct the Electrified Transportation Distribution System Laboratory (ETDSL), which will be used to research, demonstrate and test new devices and systems for electrified transportation, including light rail, electric ships, renewable energy systems and electric vehicle charging stations. Ferdowsi is joined by Missouri S&T’s Jonathan Kimball, Robert Landers and Ruwen Qin, MU’s Dan Lin and UMSL’s Jianli Pan.
- MU’s Candace Kuby is leading a project to establish a national research center that will work to understand and support Missouri’s language and literacy education needs in the modern era of social media. Kuby is joined by Matt Gordon, Mike Metz, Rob Petrone, Claire Syler and Angie Zapata.