Duke Broadcasts 2022 DST Spark Seed Grant Winners

The Workplace of Analysis and Innovation has awarded funding to 9 best-in-class tasks for the inaugural Duke Science and Know-how (DST) Spark Seed Grant program. This yr’s winners embrace early and mid-career school from throughout campus and the Faculty of Drugs who have been chosen from a pool of 52 finalists for developing with modern and inventive concepts in pursuit of latest instructions. and enhancing analysis and scholarship at Duke.

“As new scientific discoveries and breakthroughs proceed to floor at Duke, we’re excited concerning the modern concepts our school has to handle the world’s most urgent challenges by means of analysis,” stated Jenny Lodge, vp. from Duke for Analysis and Innovation. “The proposals from the winners of this yr’s DST Spark Seed Grants exemplify how analysis can enhance lives – and we look ahead to the accomplishments of every PI over the following yr.”



Challenge: Allow unbiased discovery of force-sensitive protein-protein interactions
IP: Brenton Hoffman, James L. and Elizabeth M. Vincent Affiliate Professor of Biomedical Engineering

Brenton Hoffman research how the cells of the physique react when they’re crushed or stretched. His group has developed a wide range of sensors that measure, on the molecular stage, the impact of those forces on particular proteins and their operate in dwelling cells. However proteins hardly ever act alone. With the help of a DST Spark Seed Grant, he plans to create applied sciences that may enable, for the primary time, to know how mechanical forces affect the networks of proteins that affiliate within the molecular equipment of the cell. Hoffman says the work might result in new remedies for circumstances corresponding to most cancers and coronary heart illness.

Brenton Hoffman, James L. and Elizabeth M. Vincent Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering



Challenge: New dimensions of tropical ecology: results of megafauna on the biogeochemical cycle in 3D
IP: John Poulsen, Affiliate Professor of Tropical Ecology

John Poulsen, George Thomas Leach Affiliate Professor of Ecological Sciences, will use terrestrial lidar scanning to measure forest construction in areas of Gabon with and with out forest elephants with the intention of measuring the affect of enormous animals on carbon sequestration. Two years later, the identical measures might be repeated. The evaluation will hyperlink with professors of economics and laptop science to quantify the worth and impression of enormous herbivores on the dynamics of local weather change.

John Poulsen, Associate Professor of Tropical Ecology


Challenge: Optimistic carbon dioxide removing by means of carbonate conversion and seaweed bioproducts
IP: Zackary Johnson, Affiliate Professor of Molecular Biology in Marine Science

To battle international warming, we want strategies that suck up greenhouse gases, and Duke’s Zackary Johnson envisions a strategy to do exactly that: with tiny algae from the ocean. Johnson is engaged on a undertaking to seize carbon dioxide from energy plant smokestacks and convert it to bicarbonate, which is then added to seaweed to stimulate their development. Johnson says the algae-based system might in flip present warmth, energy and as a lot protein as soybeans, making it a possible supply of animal feed that does not compete with farmland. or recent water. His technique continues to be within the demonstration part, however the DST Spark Seed Grant will assist him take the idea out of the lab and present if it may very well be commercially viable on a bigger scale.

Zackary Johnson, Associate Professor of Molecular Biology in Marine Science



Challenge: Utilizing Deep Studying to Prepare a Single Molecule DNA Sequencer to Precisely Determine DNA Lesions
IP: Raluca Gordan, Affiliate Professor of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics, Laptop Science, Molecular Genetics and Microbiology

Raluca Gordan develops machine studying strategies for sequencing broken DNA, which normal DNA sequencing applied sciences can’t deal with. She hopes to make use of these strategies to raised perceive how proteins bind to broken websites within the human genome and inhibit their restore, and whether or not this binding course of offers rise to mutations that may result in ailments corresponding to most cancers.

Raluca Gordan, Associate Professor of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics, Computer Science, Molecular Genetics and Microbiology


Challenge: Synchronized clocks in Zebrafish Patterning
IP: Stefano Di Talia, Affiliate Professor of Mobile Biology and Orthopedics

Stefano Di Talia, affiliate professor of cell biology, will examine oscillations within the exercise of a protein kinase known as Erk, which seems to be the timekeeper that alerts the common patterning of vertebral segments within the backbone of a creating zebrafish. His group just lately found that Erk exercise oscillates all through the notochord and dictates when vertebral precursors start to type. The group hopes to ascertain which mechanism controls Erk’s oscillations and generate sufficient information from this zebrafish work to safe extra funding.

Stefano Di Talia, Associate Professor of Cellular Biology and Orthopedics


Challenge: Interrogating subcellular gene expression within the creating mind
IP: Debra Silver, Affiliate Professor of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, Cell Biology and Neurobiology

Debra Silver, Affiliate Professor of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, will examine messenger RNA localization and localized gene translation in cells of the nervous system. These processes are important for guiding new connections in a creating mind and are significantly concentrated in just one a part of the neural progenitor cells. The undertaking will try and develop a brand new know-how to measure and management gene expression in a single a part of the cell. Growing new know-how is normally not funded by the NIH, however mastering the method might open up many new grant alternatives and be worthwhile for understanding native gene expression in techniques past the mind. .

Debra Silver, Associate Professor of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, Cell Biology and Neurobiology


Challenge: Harnessing feminine resiliency components to advertise kidney restore
IP: Tomokazu Souma, Assistant Professor of Drugs

Tomokazu Souma, MD, assistant professor of nephrology and affiliated with the Duke Regeneration Heart, will use human-derived kidney organoids – organs in a dish – to determine new therapies geared toward bettering kidney restore and regeneration. Particularly, his lab hopes to observe up on a current discovery that ladies have a larger resistance to acute kidney harm. They wish to see if these “feminine resistance components” may very well be harnessed to deal with kidney illness.

Tomokazu Souma, Assistant Professor of Medicine

Pure Sciences


Challenge: Integration of metabolomics and proteomics platforms to resolve the roles of Rad6 in vitality manufacturing and stress resistance
IP: Gustavo Silva, assistant professor of biology

Gustavo Silva, assistant professor of biology, will construct on his earlier findings in yeast and human cells to raised perceive the mobile response to oxidative stress – an overabundance of reactive oxygen molecules. His group has recognized new hyperlinks between protein synthesis and vitality manufacturing throughout stress, and elucidating this course of requires monitoring modifications within the abundance of particular metabolites, which is an entire new course for his laboratory. The Spark grant ought to assist them develop new applied sciences and collect sufficient data for follow-on grant purposes.

Gustavo Silva, assistant professor of biology

Public coverage

Challenge: Okay-12 Instructional Inequalities and Public Coverage Preferences
IP: Sarah Komisarow, Assistant Professor of Public Coverage and Economics

In terms of college funding, training coverage professional Sarah Komisarow says an increasing number of US college districts are contemplating a brand new method: one primarily based on scholar want. The concept is that some college students have extra wants than others, and faculties that serve college students with larger wants – as a result of they’re studying English or dwelling with a incapacity, for instance – ought to get extra funds. The DST Spark seed grant will enable Komisarow to gather much-needed information on how data on academic inequalities impacts folks’s preferences for various Okay-12 spending insurance policies, together with approaches equity-based insurance policies that direct extra monetary assets to deprived college students.

Sarah Komisarow, Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Economics

To study extra about Duke Science and Know-how (DST) Spark Seed Grant winners, go to research.duke.edu.

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