By Farhana Rahman
UGA and England’s University of Liverpool are offering a third round of “pump-priming”seed grants to encourage research collaborations between the two institutions. Research proposals for this round are due Nov. 4. In the last two years, the program funded a range of projects, from novel developments of personalized cancer treatments to the development of phase change textiles used for solider combat uniforms, with each initiative receiving up to $9,000 to cover initial project costs.
“The University of Liverpool has proven to be an excellent partner,” said Vice President for Research David Lee. “We are very pleased by how this multi-faceted, successful collaboration has already developed. With the aid of this new seed grant round, we look to expand our partnership even further.”
A collaboration from the 2014-2015 cycle between UGA’s Natarajan Kannan and the University of Liverpool’s Patrick Eyers has already borne fruit in a $1.5 million grant from the NIH. The goal of their project, “Evaluation of the Cancer-Mutated Human Kinome,” is to provide cancer patients with personalized treatment strategies based on their individual genomic profile.
By tackling the same critical issue—cancer—from two different approaches, their collaboration has provided a holistic approach to cancer treatment. Kannan, an associate professor of biology in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and Georgia Cancer Coalition Distinguished Cancer Scholar, and his UGA-based research team are mining data for cancer genomes to identify key mutations. Eyers and his research team in England are drug-testing cancer mutations to see what treatment works best for each type of mutation. This research partnership also has allowed Kannan and Eyers to visit each other’s universities, broadening the partnership and enhancing the education of all students involved.
Seed grant funding is provided in equal shares from both institutions. At UGA, the Office of Research matches departmental or unit support at a 2-to-1 ratio. Funding from Liverpool is provided by the International Development Office and the researchers’ school or faculty.
Among those selected in the 2015-2016 cycle is Sergiy Minko, the Georgia Power Professor of Fiber and Polymer Science in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences. He is collaborating with Dmitry Shchukin at the University of Liverpool on “Sustainable Nanocellulose Based Phase Change Textile Coatings” with the goal of creating “second-skin” soldier uniforms. Minko also has a joint appointment as a professor of chemistry in the Franklin College.
Javad Mohammadpour, an assistant professor in the College of Engineering, is collaborating with Liverpool’s Paolo Paoletti on a project titled “Embedding Robustness in Swarm Robotics Control Algorithms.” Mohammadpour also is the director of the Complex Systems Control Lab in the college. This project was funded in the 2014-2015 cycle.
Other 2015-16 cycle recipients include Brett Clementz and Jennifer McDowell, UGA department of psychology, and Paul Knox, University of Liverpool, on “Oculomotor Approaches to Behavioral Inhibition;” Ralph Tripp, UGA department of infectious diseases, and James Stewart, University of Liverpool, on “The Anti-Viral Function of SPLUNC1 during Influenza A Virus Infection of Normal Epithelial Cells;” Bingqian Xu, UGA College of Engineering, and Simon Higgins, University of Liverpool, on “New University of Liverpool/University of Georgia Atlanta Collaboration on Molecular Scale Electronics;” and John Mauer, Margie Lee, Monique Franca and Timothy Hoover, UGA department of population health, and Paul Wigley and Nicola Williams, University of Liverpool, on “Defining the Mechanism Competitive Exclusion of Enteropathogens.”
Recipients from the 2014-15 cycle also included Benjamin Ehlers, UGA department of history, and Stephen Kenny, University of Liverpool on “Slavery and the 19th-Century Atlantic Economy;” R. Benjamin Davis, UGA College of Engineering, and Huajiang Ouyan, University of Liverpool, on “Vibrational Self-Assembly for Advanced Manufacturing Applications;” and Elisabeth Sattler, UGA department of history, and Mark Gabbay, University of Liverpool, on “Unmet Basic Needs and Health Disparity in Two Health Care Systems: Food Insecurity, Medication Non-adherence, Access to
Health Care/Welfare and Chronic Disease Outcomes in Low-Income Adults in the U.S. and the U.K.”