Posts Tagged ‘Ohio State University’

A Different Kind of Research Collaboration: The Big Ten

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

For many of us who enjoy sports, collegiate conferences represent a point of regional bragging rights. Maybe your favorite team won’t win the national championship, but perhaps there’s a measure of comfort in knowing that another team in your conference did (unless it happens to be your archrival).

But conferences aren’t only about athletics. Mostly? Yes. But not only.

The conferences of the country’s biggest schools also have an academic aspect to them as well. Take the Southeastern Conference’s Academic Consortium. The Big Ten also a formal academic consortium called the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, which announced Wednesday that it will undertake a concussion research initiative across all 13 of its member schools.

(Yes, the Big Ten’s CIC has 13 members. The Big Ten was 10 schools until admitting Penn State in the 1990s and the University of Nebraska last year. The University of Chicago, once a full athletics affiliate, remains an academic member only.)

“We basically lack across the country great longitudinal information,” Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany told ESPN. “So we’re trying to organize ourselves in a way to begin to develop that information. We’ve got 9,500 athletes, so what that is over a four-year period is 40,000 student-athlete years. We’re having important discussions with other major research institutions, the presidents in some of those other conferences, are determining whether or not they want to join with us in this collaboration.”

And it’s not just the number of built-in study participants that’s impressive; it’s that there’s plenty of research capacity to lead such a massive study and synthesize the immense amount of data that comes from it. The Big Ten members — the University of Illinois-Champaign, Indiana University, the University of Iowa, the University of Michigan, Michigan State, the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Northwestern University, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison (along with Chicago) — were awarded a staggering 4,963 grants from the National Institutes of Health in FY11. The sum of those grants was nearly $2.1 billion.

The Big Ten and CIC have been talking about concussions since 2010, and the conference already hosts a traumatic brain injury research collaboration, led by Dennis Molfese, PhD, a professor at Nebraska. (Molfese himself was funded by NIH from 1988 to 2007.)

The next step, ESPN reported, would be to seek funding, most likely from NIH.

“It’s a beginning of a long journey,” Delany said, “but we’re hoping 25 or 30 years from now that the discussions we’re having now, if we’re able to get funding from any number of sources, can provide the long-term research and information to help guide decisions.”

The announcement came on the same day of the publication of a study in Science Translational Medicine that linked the brain damage found in some deceased football players was similar to that found in soldiers who had survived bomb blasts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The CIC study, should it be funded, could provide a wealth of information on concussions and TBI, helping not only our favorite athletic teams but our soldiers as well.

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: A Public-Private, Bipartisan Win-Win at a Tense Time

Friday, October 21st, 2011

Dear Research Advocate,

This fall is tense and so-far, mostly unproductive, on Capitol Hill. Usual order and predictability have been thrown out the window. Standing back in confusion or disappointment is not a good option, however: it is important to stay engaged so that our issues are heard. The most recent hopeful development is that Reps. Markey (D-MA) and Bilbray (R-CA) have drafted a bipartisan letter to the House Appropriations Committee asking that they support the $1 billion increase for the National Institutes of Health. Send a message to your representatives NOW and urge them to sign onto the Markey-Bilbray letter.

The Senate, meanwhile, is running out of time to pass appropriations bills and is about to go on recess, making for a tense 18 days when they return in November (recall that November 18th is the last day of the current stop-gap funding measure, or “continuing resolution,” and it looks more and more likely that there will be yet another “CR”). The Senate is debating a combined appropriations minibus as I write, one that bundles Transportation and Housing, Agriculture, and Commerce-Justice-Science, that contains a funding level of $2.5B for the Food and Drug Administration (slight increase from FY 2011) and $6.7B (a 2.4% cut from FY 2011) for the National Science Foundation. This is the time to weigh in for FDA and NSF: tell Congress that cutting funding for research and innovation is not a deficit reduction strategy.

Another hopeful sign: Majority Leader Eric Cantor recently took part in a business roundtable including university presidents and CEOs. Leader Cantor remarked “I don’t think there’s any question, we ought to put a priority on research in this country…One thing that I think the country expects is leadership in research because it has a huge leverage effect in our quality of life in what we can do in productivity.” As was true in 1995 when then-Congressman John Porter brought together business and academic leaders to bolster the case for ramping up NIH, support for research is a bi-partisan, public-private partnership issue even in trying fiscal times. Maybe I should say especially in trying fiscal times!

Our collective purpose is best served by making sure that we keep the value of research and innovation in the public eye right now, as Congress is making key decisions. I cannot stress enough the importance of writing an op-ed and writing it TODAY. Dr. Michael Caligiuri, director of the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center and President of the Association of American Cancer Institutes published an op-ed on the importance of protecting funding for cancer research. In the wake of Steve Jobs passing, Dr. Caligiuri recognized the importance of raising awareness about cancer and the progress that researchers have made. He also points out that investing in research is the only way to prevent cancer deaths and relieve the massive cost burden of the disease. Start writing your op-ed TODAY.

Mary Woolley

Back for 2011: Research and the AP Top 25

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

Saturday was a milestone for football fans with the release of the Associated Press preseason poll, which ranks the top 25 teams in college football. (And, for our money, a much better barometer than the sometimes-dubious USA Today/Coaches poll.)

Led by No. 1 Oklahoma, the release of the AP poll means that football is very nearly here. We’ll take this time to apologize to those of you who aren’t football fans; for the rest of you, it’s been a long six months, hasn’t it?

As much as we could prattle on about the overrating of No. 8 Texas A&M or the underrating of South Carolina (No. 12), we’ll leave that to the professionals. Instead, our angle will be what we know best: research. As we did last season, we’ll run through the top 25 and note research achievements at each school; where possible, we’ll focus on biomedical research, though we realize that several of these schools have strengths in other areas. We’ll also include links to any of our members that are affiliated with that school.

1. Oklahoma: Meteorology has long been a staple at OU; its campus hosts the National Weather Center and the Storm Prediction Center. Along with Penn State, it has one of the best meteorology programs in the country. So it’s of no surprise that OU has been at the center of weather research; with financial assistance from the National Science Foundation, the school recently purchased a mobile, rapid-scan, high-resolution radar system. The radar can render full images of rapidly developing storms, like tornadoes, in 30 seconds; this technology can help researchers get a better handle on how tornadoes form – long a mystery in the world of weather.
(Research!America members at OU: University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center)

2. Alabama. Yuping Bao, PhD, assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering, has found that changing the chemical groups that coat iron oxide nanoparticles can make them more water soluble. The implication of that research (published earlier this month in Nature magazine) is profound in the world of medical devices. A more soluble coating could have a significant impact on efficacy.

3. Oregon. Hui Zong, PhD, and his team of researchers have found the earliest starting point yet for malignant glioma, a deadly brain cancer. Using a mouse genetics system co-founded by UO and Stanford University (more on them in a bit), Zong identified oligodendrocyte precursor cells as the first cells to display “significant overexpansion and aberrant growth.” Using this technique – Mosaic Analysis and Double Markers – could help researchers to pinpoint origins for other types of cancers.

4. Louisiana State. It’s not a health disparity that one would normally think of, but Matthew Lee, PhD, a professor of sociology, and Emily Berthelot, a PhD candidate, analyzed data from 3,100 counties in the U.S. and found that the rate of death by malnutrition among older adults is significantly higher in the presence of certain factors. Those factors include isolation (living alone or being widowed), low education level, high poverty level and limited access to telephones. Lee and Berthelot estimate that 2,000 to 3,000 older adults die from malnutrition each year.

5. Boise State. Jet lag can leave anyone exhausted, and the air quality inside aircraft cabins does little to help how good you feel after a long flight. A research team at Boise State is taking steps to rectify that: The team, led by Sin Ming Loo, PhD, has developed a wireless, portable and configurable sensor that monitors and records environmental information inside aircraft. The sensor also records noise levels, so it’ll be sure to note your discomfort with the loudmouth two rows in front of you.

6. Florida State. Scott J. Steppan, PhD, an associate professor of biology, discovered seven new species of mice living in the Philippines. What’s notable about the “new” mice is that they lived in separate areas and each was a distinct species; however, they were all closely related and in the same genus. The discovery of the mice helps show how quickly evolution can happen, and Steppan says the discovery helps researchers understand the origin of biodiversity more generally.

7. Stanford. In recent months, Stanford researchers have made significant inroads against cancer. Amato Giaccia, PhD, professor and director of radiation oncology, is looking into a new therapy that starves cancer cells of glucose – their primary energy source. The development of such a therapy could provide an alternative for chemotherapy. There are other ways to accomplish the same thing, as assistant professor of bioengineering Jennifer Cochran, PhD, discovered. Her idea is to prevent cancer cells from forming capillaries, thus preventing blood flow and nutrients to the cancer cells. And one study is further along: Gordon Li, MD, is a co-investigator on a Phase 1 trial to test a vaccine for a rare type of brain tumor in children.
(Research!America members: Stanford University School of Medicine)

8. Texas A&M. A research team led by Gregory Bix, MD, PhD, found that a small portion of a cell’s connective tissue – called Perlecan domain V – can help promote protection and rehabilitation of cells after a stroke. In multiple models, the team discovered that if administered less than 24 hours after an ischemic stroke, Perlecan domain V helps prevent nerve cells from dying and restore motor function that was lost because of the stroke.
(Research!America members: Texas A&M Health Science Center)

9. Oklahoma State. During a recent demonstration at Boone Pickens Stadium – the Cowboys’ football field – researchers showed off a mobile security vehicle called OverSite to the Oklahoma Army National Guard and the FBI. OverSite, developed by Oklahoma State University-University Multispectral Laboratories, combines multiple sensor technologies and communications infrastructure into one machine that promotes better public safety.

10. Nebraska. Nebraska’s new Life Sciences Initiatives provides seed funding through competitive grants for researchers at the university. The program recently announced its inaugural list of funded projects; those projects include a systems biology approach to stress response, new methods to improve drought tolerance in plants and gene therapy for those with neurodegenerative disorders caused by pesticide exposure.
(Research!America members: University of Nebraska Medical Center and University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Dentistry)

11. Wisconsin. Researchers at Wisconsin’s School of Medicine and Public Health studied the unintended negative consequences of a 2005 smoke-free ordinance in Madison. Fortunately, they found few. Prior to the ordinance taking affect, some were concerned that the ordinance would cause for more violence, public disturbances and student house parties. The study marked the first time that researchers studied the effect of a smoke-free ordinance on public disturbances.
(Research!America members: University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health)

12. South Carolina. If you’re struggling to lose weight, researchers at South Carolina may have the answer. A wristwatch-type device displayed real-time info about calorie loss during exercise – thus telling overweight study participants how many calories they could take in during meals. A group with access to the armband and group sessions lost the most weight – nearly 15 pounds on average.

13. Virginia Tech. The whole idea for this blog post centers around football, so it makes sense to include a football-related item. Stefan Duma, PhD, a researcher at Virginia Tech, categorized the efficacy of current football helmets at preventing concussions – a first-of-its-kind study. The study rated current models on a star system, with five stars being the most effective at preventing concussions. The study used funding from private sources, not from helmet manufacturers.

14. Texas Christian University. Tristan Tayag, PhD, a professor in TCU’s Department of Engineering, has developed a medical device that could revolutionize treatment for diabetes patients who can’t control the disease through regular interventions. His device helps introduce insulin-producing Islets of Langerhans cells into diabetic patients, but doesn’t need donations from deceased donors and eliminates the chance that the patient’s body will reject the new cells.

15. Arkansas. The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences announced a new therapy to attack cancer cells in patients that have the most aggressive form of multiple myeloma. The treatment uses natural killer cells – donated from a close relative – which are immune cells capable of seeking out and destroying cancer cells.
(Research!America members: University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences)

16. Notre Dame. Researchers from four different departments at Notre Dame studied non-identifiable information from cell phones to determine frequency of contact between one person and his or her social circle. Their work has found that the dissolution of ties is just as important as the formation of ties; moreover, their research led them to predict future behaviors.
(Research!America members: The University of Notre Dame)

17. Michigan State. Ivermectin is a drug that transformed how humans treat parasitic infections. But until now, no one was quite sure how it worked. Charles Mackenzie, PhD, a professor in MSU’s Department of Pathobiology & Diagnostic Investigation, made the discovery: He found that the drug blocks worms from excreting a particular protein, which prevents the hosts’ immune systems from eliminating the parasite. With the block in place, the immune system destroys the invaders.

18. Ohio State. Is it really all downhill after winning a Nobel Prize? Maybe not, but researchers at Ohio State found that Nobel laureates’ work is less accepted and noticed after winning the Nobel. That’s not an ironclad finding, however; the researchers also noticed that the “path to idea acceptance” was considerably different for physicists than it was for chemists or those in medicine.
(Research!America members: Ohio State’s College of Dentistry, College of Medicine, College of Nursing and College of Public Health)

19. Georgia. A team at Georgia, led by Boris Striepen, PhD, has discovered why some drugs work against diseases like malaria and others don’t. One key finding: a plasma membrane that prevents some components of disease from being affected by drugs.

20. Mississippi State. Higher gas prices mean fewer accidents – one of the few positive byproducts of paying more at the pump. Researchers, led by Guangqing Chi, PhD, analyzed factors leading to auto accidents between April 2004 and December 2008, tracking those numbers with gas prices. Chi and the other researchers noted an overall decline in drunk driving accidents, as well as lower short-term accident rates for younger drives and lower intermediate-term accident rates for older drivers and men.

21. Missouri. Carol Ward, PhD, and a team of researchers found that arches in human feet date back far longer than had previously been believed. Ward and her team studied the pre-homo sapiens skeleton of Lucy and found arches existed in her feet as well. Arches are a key component of human movement.

22. Florida. If you’ve ever dealt with the headache of termites in your house, researchers at Florida feel your pain. A study produced by Thomas Chouvenc, PhD, found that methods for eliminating termite colonies have been successful in the lab but less so in the real world. Insect behavior – such as grooming, identifying pathogens and removing carcasses – makes termites difficult to control.

23. Auburn. The Miracle on the Hudson – when pilot Chesley Sullenberger ditched an Airbus A320 into the Hudson River in New York, saving all onboard – still resonates with the public. Researchers at Auburn hope to put bird strikes, the issue that ultimately doomed US Airways 1549, out of mind for travelers. They’re developing a retention pond that treats common airport pollutants (like fuel, oil and deicing fluid) while also reducing the things that attract birds to airports in the first place.

24. West Virginia. Two researchers at West Virginia are figuring out how to bring an electron beam into the kitchen. And yes, there’s a good reason for it: A microwave with an e-beam could be a huge step forward in food safety technology. The researchers, Jacek Jaczynski, PhD, and Kristen Matak, PhD, have already found that e-beams are effective against E. coli and staphylococcus. The challenge now is to shrink the technology so that it’s ready for home use.
(Research!America members: WVU School of Dentistry)

25. Southern California. Stem cells and cancerous cells may share the same origin, according to Jiang F. Zhong, PhD, and other researchers at USC. By suppressing the expression of a certain gene, Zhong and a research team turned skin cells into brain cells. But it’s not always a linear outcome; Zhong likened it to a person who loses their job: they can turn into a criminal or they can find another job and remain an upstanding citizen. Cells, likewise, can turn cancerous – but not always.
(Research!America members: Keck School of Medicine, School of Dentistry)

ATRN to Tackle Health Disparities in Applachia

Friday, May 6th, 2011

Researchers at the University of Kentucky and seven other academic centers have announced the formation of the Appalachian Translational Research Network (ATRN) to help fight sickness and disease in an area of the country that very much needs the help.

The eight institutions hope to further work with regional and local groups as well as interested community members to improve the health of Appalachia. As shown on the ATRN’s homepage, the region is among the worst in the country according to the United Health Foundation and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rankings. For instance, Tennessee, West Virginia and Kentucky all rank 41st or worse in lung cancer, cancer deaths, smoking, obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular deaths. Ohio is only slightly better in each of the categories.

“We are dedicated to seeing this region escape from being one of the sickest parts of America,” said Phillip Kern, MD, director of the UK Center for Clinical and Translational Science and Barnstable Brown Diabetes and Obesity Center, in a statement. “We also believe that what we learn here could be applied to other underserved or rural communities in the U.S. So it’s much bigger than helping people in Appalachia. We’re looking for solutions that could impact everyone, everywhere.”

Other institutions involved include Ohio State University, Marshall University, the University of Cincinnati, Morehead State University, Pikeville College and the Appalachian Regional Commission.

The University of Cincinnati, UK’s College of Dentistry and several divisions of Ohio State are Research!America members.

The AP’s Top 25 and the Research at Those Schools

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

We’re two weeks away from the beginning of the college football season. And this weekend, the Associated Press released its preseason poll of the top 25 teams, headlined by defending national champion Alabama.

(The Research!America office includes fans of Northwestern, Virginia Tech, South Carolina, Ohio State, Boston College, Michigan, Nebraska and Penn State, so you can be sure that we’ll all have something to rib each other about as the season goes on – good-naturedly, of course.)

With the release of the AP poll, we thought we’d take a look at the research each school performs. Of course, not every school has a major focus on medical and health research; in instances such as those, we’ll detail what research work is done there. And the asterisks indicate that the school itself or some part of that school is a Research!America member; links to the relevant areas are included as well.

Without further ado, the preseason AP Top 25:

1. Alabama. The school’s Institute for Social Science Research is currently working on a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-funded project called “Behavioral Study to Investigate Youth DUI and Risky Driving.” The study, led by Nancy Rhodes, PhD, is trying to understand social and other factors that makes teens riskier drivers.

2. Ohio State* (and one additional link). Ohio State includes 27 major interdisciplinary research centers, which include areas such as robotic surgery, critical care, IT innovations in health care, molecular neurobiology, behavioral medicine and sports medicine.

3. Boise State. Shawn Benner, PhD, an associate professor in the department of geosciences, served as the lead hydrogeologist on the research described in this Nature article. The study, produced in collaboration with researchers at Stanford, looked at the causes of elevated arsenic levels in groundwater in Asia, a problem that adversely affects 100 million people.

4. Florida*. While the story of Florida’s development of Gatorade (named after its mascot) is well known, the university’s more recent developments include a bacteria-resistant bandage, a termite prevention system and hurricane-resistant housing.

5. Texas (links here, here, here, here and here). If you’re stressed at your job, the University of Texas is looking out for you. Its multidisciplinary Occupational Health Psychology Laboratory aims to take psychology’s lessons and apply them to life at the workplace.

6. TCU. Researcher Nancy Meadows, EdD, studied kids from TCU’s Starpoint School and KinderFrogs – another TCU school that serves young children with Down’s syndrome – who then made the jump to public middle schools. Her research led to a greater understanding of social and academic transitions.

7. Oklahoma*. The University of Oklahoma houses a National Institutes of Health-funded center on clinical research, which provides investigators with the facilities and resources to conduct clinical research.

8. Nebraska* (and an additional link). One of the major programs at the University of Nebraska Medical Center is regenerative medicine, and the center is conducting research in four areas: stem cells, growth factors, tissue engineering and guided tissue regeneration.

9. Iowa* (additional links here and here). The University of Iowa’s Center for Biocatalysis and Bioprocessing was the first center of its kind in the world, and it remains the largest. “Our goal,” the center’s website states, “is to reshape the agricultural, chemical nutritional, and pharmaceutical industries by combining the intellectual talents of top scientific faculty with the practical delivery of new technologies.”

10. Virginia Tech. Of Tech’s 10 university-level research centers, the Virginia Water Resources Research Center is the oldest; it was founded in 1964. It was part of congressional legislation that established 54 water resource programs at land-grand schools across the country.

11. Oregon. The Pacific Northwest takes its natural resources very seriously. At Oregon, two of its major initiatives are trying to make that state a go-to center for green product research; it also hosts the Sustainable Cities Initiative, which serves to research and educate the design and development of sustainable cities.

12. Wisconsin*. In 1974, the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health developed sun protection factor ratings. You know them today as the SPF number on your favorite sunscreen.

13. Miami*. The Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami gave math problems to study participants before and after an aromatherapy session. Those who were subjected to lavender (a relaxing odor) were sleepier, less depressed and did the math problems correctly. Those who were subjected to rosemary (a stimulating odor) were more alert, more relaxed and did the math problems faster – though not always correctly.

14. USC* (additional links here and here). An initiative between the Keck School of Medicine and the school’s Viterbi School of Engineering seeks to solve human problems through a combination of science, medicine and engineering.

15. Pittsburgh* (additional links here, here and here). Pitt’s Graduate School of Public Health recently announced that it had been awarded a NIH grant to establish a Center of Excellence in Modeling of Infectious Diseases. The center will develop and implement computer models that will help evaluate prevention strategies to contain infectious disease outbreaks.

16. Georgia Tech. Researchers at Georgia Tech have found that video-game practice and technology can be transferred to applications in the defense, education and health care industries.

17. Arkansas*. The University of Arkansas for Medical Science’s Center for Addiction Research recently published guidelines for adolescents alcohol users. Although interventions for adolescents who use marijuana had been developed, the school could not find any guidelines relating to alcohol abuse – even though a 2003-04 national study had found 6.1% of children aged 12 to 17 needed treatment for alcohol abuse.

18. North Carolina* (additional links here and here). UNC’s Gillings School of Public Health hosts a monthly Lunch with the Dean series. Four faculty members of varying levels of seniority and from through the school present updates on their current work to the dean, Barbara Rimer, DrPH, and several other faculty members.

19. Penn State*. Penn State’s med school isn’t located on its main campus in State College; it’s a few hours south in Hershey. In 1963, the M.S. Hershey Foundation offered the school $50 million to establish a medical school in Hershey; that grant and $21.3 million from the U.S. Public Health Service helped to establish the school, a research center and a teaching hospital. (The M.S. Hershey Foundation, of course, was established by Milton S. Hershey, the chocolate magnate.)

20. Florida State. FSU’s Office of Research includes the Council on Research & Creativity, which is a university-wide committee of faculty from various academic backgrounds. The council, founded in 1968, is appointed by the vice president for research and helps stimulate growth and innovative thinking in FSU’s research community.

21. LSU*. The LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans maintains a PDF of its technologies that are available for licensing.

22. Auburn. Auburn University is one of 105 member institutions in the Universities Space Research Association. It hosts its own Space Research Institute, which develops energy, transportation and security technologies for space-based and terrestrial applications.

23. Georgia. Under the umbrella of the vice president of research is the Jane and Harry Willson Center for Humanities and Arts, which aims to promote “scholarly inquiry and creative activity.”

24. Oregon State. Researchers at Oregon State have found that Mt. Hood – the tallest mountain in Oregon and within sight of Portland, the state’s biggest city – gives different clues about when it will erupt than other Cascade Range mountains. Their research could help predict when an eruption is imminent.

25. West Virginia* (and an additional link). The Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center includes the West Virginia Rural Health Research Center, which seeks answers to health problems for the state’s the country’s rural populations.

Ohio State Cancer Projects Benefit From Stimulus Funding

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

An $8 million National Institutes of Health grant provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will fund the completion of an unfinished floor of the Biomedical Research Tower at Ohio State University Medical Center, a Research!America member. The project will be the second phase of construction since the Tower’s opening in 2006, where Research!America president Mary Woolley gave a keynote presentation applauding research and advocacy for health taking place at the University.

The finished floor will house cancer researchers and their teams, adding to the number of scientists that will eventually total 800 when the tower is completed, according to OSU Medical Center.