Hand writing in lab notebook

Health Science Center awards 10 grants for interdisciplinary research

Promising proposals move forward with funding
September 10, 2018

Texas A&M awarded its first round of X-Grants this year, totaling $7 million. These grant proposals all required interdisciplinary teams to creatively tackle important global challenges. From the Health Science Center, a team lead by Carl Gregory, PhD, an associate professor in the Institute for Regenerative Medicine at the Texas A&M College of Medicine, was awarded an X-grant to study scaling up bone-regeneration technology.

However, there were many promising projects that were not selected for a university-level award this year. That’s why the Health Science Center senior vice president and Office of Faculty Development are awarding grants, totaling $110,000, to 10 additional Health Science Center faculty-headed teams:

  • Paul de Figueiredo, PhD, associate professor in the College of Medicine, is leading a team that will study how effector proteins affect human, animal and plant diseases. These proteins come from parasites, bacteria and fungi that cause diseases of global significance.
  • Jerry Feng, PhD, professor and presidential impact fellow in the College of Dentistry, and his team—which includes researchers in the colleges of Dentistry, Medicine, Engineering and Education & Human Development—will study the role of tendons in both skeleton formation and recovery after illness and injury.
  • Marcia G. Ory, PhD, MPH, Regents and Distinguished Professor in the School of Public Health, associate vice president for strategic partnerships and initiatives at the Health Science Center and chair of the Texas A&M Opioid Task Force, will use the grant to form an interdisciplinary opioid collaboratory to design and test pilot interventions for the opioid epidemic.
  • Sanjukta Chakraborty, PhD, assistant professor in the College of Medicine, will lead a team to study cancer metastasis. Cancer can move to other areas of the body through the lymphatic and the blood systems, but the molecular reasons one cancer does and another does not isn’t clearly understand, so that’s what she and her team will try to determine.
  • Jon Skare, PhD, professor at the Texas A&M College of Medicine, and his team will study a lesser-known staph infection, once thought to mostly affect dogs, and the ways it manages to infect humans.
  • William Griffith, PhD, Regents Professor and department head at Texas A&M College of Medicine, is leading a team that is merging tools from neuroscience and engineering to investigate the neural basis of cognitive decline with age.
  • Feng Tao, MD, PhD, associate professor at the Texas A&M College of Dentistry, and his team will study a potential side effect of the disruption of the gut microbiome: migraine headaches.
  • Virender K. Sharma, PhD, professor at the School of Public Health, will continue his work on iron ions as he leads a team to study its applications for disinfecting and decontaminated water, in addition to many other uses, from wound healing to eliminating foodborne pathogens.
  • Matthew J. Kesterke, PhD, instructional assistant professor at the College of Dentistry, and his team will try to better classify orofacial dysfunction and study different treatment and rehabilitation plans, looking for better options than the invasive surgery often used now.
  • Allison C. Rice-Ficht, PhD, Regents Professor at the College of Medicine and College of Pharmacy, and her team have identified discoveries from across Texas A&M that are ready to move toward clinical studies, eventually leading to new therapies for patients. The grant be used to move these promising ideas forward.

“These proposals demonstrated great potential to address some of the biggest problems in health and medicine,” said Carrie L. Byington, MD, vice chancellor for health services at The Texas A&M University System, senior vice president of the Texas A&M University Health Science Center and dean of the Texas A&M College of Medicine. “I want to thank Dr. Emily Wilson, associate vice president of faculty development and interprofessional education, for her support; Dr. Hubert Amrein for organizing the symposium where all of the teams presented their proposed research; and all of the reviewers who took the time to evaluate each proposal.”

 

— Christina Sumners

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