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Nineteen proposals awarded funding in the President’s Research Excellence (PRE) Accelerator Grant program

The President’s Research Excellence (PRE) program provides seed support for cross- and interdisciplinary research projects that have the potential to attract external funding. Nineteen teams have been awarded funding through the Accelerator Grant program. These grants of up to $50,000 are for small teams formed to pursue curiosity-driven, novel, high-risk and high-reward research.

The PRE program supports the university’s goals to help grow its research and innovation enterprise by attracting more externally sponsored research funding, enabling curiosity-driven research and discoveries, and addressing large, complex societal challenges.

The PRE program also offers Catalyst Grants to support the efforts of large cross- and interdisciplinary teams to pursue large-scale, high-impact research that addresses emerging or existing challenges of national and international societal importance. These grants may be up to $200,000 and are expected to generate long-term, sustained, and significant impact while positioning Ohio State as THE research area leader. Concept papers for Catalyst Grant funding are due on June 18, 2021.

June 2021 Accelerator Grant Recipients

Development of cost-effective strategies for preparing a nanoparticle-based oral Salmonella vaccine and perform its evaluation under commercial poultry settings

Lead PI: Renukaradhya Gourapura, College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
Co-investigators: Brian Ahmer, College of Medicine; Lisa Bielke, College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

Project description: Salmonella is the leading foodborne zoonotic bacterial pathogen. To effectively reduce Salmonella colonization in birds and mitigate food poisoning, development of a potent and safe drinking water deliverable Salmonella vaccine for mass vaccination of poultry flocks is warranted.


Enhanced Glioblastoma Subpopulation Classification Based on Label-Free ECM Binding

Lead PI: Aleksander Skardal, College of Engineering 
Co-investigators: Zachary Shultz, College of Arts & Sciences; Monica Venere, College of Medicine

Project description: Glioblastoma (GBM) continues to suffer from poor prognosis and survival. We will re-characterize GBM cell populations based on cell interactions with their 3D physical environment. This new classification enables opportunities for a new class of target identification and treatment strategies.


Harnessing Artificial Intelligence for Food Security in Under-Resourced Arid Regions

Lead PI: Joachim Moortgat, College of Arts & Sciences    
Co-investigators: Leah Bevis, College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences; Ian Howat, College of Arts & Sciences; Han-Wei Shen, College of Engineering  

Project description: Many under-resourced regions whose food security is vulnerable to climate change are underrepresented by data. We aim to develop new AI to automatically extract such data from petabytes of ultrahigh resolution satellite imagery, which will be a game changer in informing new food security strategies.          


Visual Function and Nighttime Driving Performance in Drivers Aged 65 or Older

PI: Jingzhen Yang, College of Medicine
Co-investigators: Deyue Yu, College of Optometry; Thomas Kerwin, Office of Academic Affairs

Project description: Drivers over 65 years old are at a high risk for fatal nighttime crashes. Age-related anatomical and functional changes in vision is a significant risk factor. This study will examine the effects of mesopic visual function on night driving ability in older drivers using a high-fidelity driving simulator.                            


The Role of Bone Health in Psychological Stress

PI: Do Gyoon Kim, College of Dentistry    
Co-investigators: Beth Lee, College of Medicine; John Sheridan, College of Dentistry

Project description: Clinical cases show that psychological stress increases bone loss. Thus, the current project is to determine whether psychological stress and bone loss are mechanistically linked, and whether each condition exacerbates the other due to the central role of inflammatory immune cells in both processes.


Accelerating new muscular dystrophy treatments using a zebrafish disease model

PI: Sharon Amacher, College of Arts & Sciences    
Co-investigators: Kevin Flanigan and Martin Haesemeyer, College of Medicine

Project description: We will address a common roadblock in genome-wide association studies (GWAS) - how to go from gene identification to function. We will combine the power of GWAS with model organism genetics to evaluate candidate genes and pathways as targets for future development of muscular dystrophy therapies.     


Next-Generation Liquid Electrolytes for Extreme Li-ion Batteries

PI: Yiying Wu, College of Arts & Sciences
Co-investigators: Jung Hyun Kim and Lisa Hall, College of Engineering

Project description: This proposal is to develop novel liquid electrolytes that can operate under extreme conditions of high voltage, wide operation temperature, and fast charging for marked improved performance and safety of Li-ion batteries in the field of transportation, consumer electronics, and space mission.


Examining the Role of Physical Fitness in Cognitive and Brain Health of Ohio Senior Olympians

PI: Scott Hayes, College of Arts & Sciences    
Co-investigators: William Kraemer, College of Education and Human Ecology; Anne Kloos and Deborah Kegelmeyer, College of Medicine

Project description: Age-related reductions in fitness, mobility, and strength have been linked to cognitive and brain decline. The goal of this study it to identify which modifiable physical attributes are most strongly linked to memory and brain health, with a long-term goal of mitigating cognitive and neural decline.


Novel mechanisms of intercellular communication in cancer pathogenesis

PI: Dario Palmieri, College of Medicine    
Co-investigators: Heather Shive and Alexander Davies, College of Veterinary Medicine

Project description: Cancer cells "communicate" with normal cells to create the most favorable conditions for their growth. This proposal aims at generating and characterizing unique zebrafish models to identify cancer specific mediators of cellular communication with a critical role in tumorigenesis.


Selective conversion of methane to methanol using hemoglobin encapsulated in porous materials

PI: Nicholas Brunelli, College of Engineering
Co-investigators: Andre Palmer, College of Engineering; Christine Wade, College of Arts & Sciences

Project description: We will use zeolitic imidazolate framework to encapsulate hemoglobin to use as a catalyst for the selective conversion of methane to methanol. Using advanced spectroscopy, we will investigate the oxidation state of the iron atom in the hemoglobin during each step of the catalytic cycle.


Novel Minimally Invasive Strategies to treat Chronic Low Back Pain

PI: Devina Purmessur (Walter), College of Engineering 
Co-investigators: Natalia Higuita-Castro, College of Engineering; Safdar Khan, Olga Kokiko-Cochran and Candice Askwith, College of Medicine

Project description: There is a critical need for non-addictive strategies to treat chronic low back pain given its socio-economic burden and gateway to opioid use. Our goal is to establish minimally invasive gene delivery strategies using engineered extracellular vesicles that target peripheral neurons in back pain.


Peering into Alien Worlds: A Synergistic Astronomical, Geochemical, and Laser Engineering Approach to Explore the Habitability of Terrestrial Planets

PI: Ji Wang, College of Arts & Sciences
Co-investigators: Enam Chowdhury, College of Engineering; Wendy Panero and Jennifer Johnson, College of Arts & Sciences     

Project description: What makes a terrestrial planet habitable? Using a synergistic astronomical, geochemical, and laser CoE approach, we will develop the methodology needed to understand the habitability of terrestrial exoplanets and prepare for external funding opportunities that would support these efforts.    


Development of novel targets for preventing mechanically induced injury in lung fibrosis patients

PI: Megan Ballinger, College of Medicine    
Co-investigators: Samie Ghadiali, College of Engineering; Arunark Kolipaka, College of Medicine

Project description: Injury to the lungs cause scars, also known as pulmonary fibrosis, and this damage makes it difficult to breath. Although mechanical ventilation provide needed support, it can also cause additional injury to the lungs. New models are needed to develop therapeutics that can the prevent lung damage.                   


In-Situ 3D Printing of Wireless Medical Implants

PI: Asimina Kiourti, College of Engineering 
Co-investigators: David Hoelzle and Jinghua Li, College of Engineering; Desmond D'Souza, College of Medicine

Project description: A major obstacle in the widespread adoption of wireless implants is the invasive process of placing them into the body. In a major leap forward, we propose a novel approach for 3D-printing wireless implants in-situ using a robotic material delivery probe that enters the body via a minor incision.             


Relationship between diet, microbiome and SIV in wild and captive sooty mangabeys

PI: Vanessa Hale, College of Veterinary Medicine    
Co-investigators: William McGraw and Tessa Cannon, College of Arts & Sciences; Yael Vodovotz, College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

Project description: S. mangabeys are primary source for inquiry of AIDS pathogenesis with little data on oral and gut microbiome alterations by natural diet or viral load. This project aims to identify a non-invasive method for SIV infection status and compare gut and oral microbiota of wild and captive mangabeys with or without SIV.


AI-Powered Green Synthesis Pathway Planning for Drug Manufacturing

PI: Xiaoxue Wang, College of Engineering
Co-investigators: Huan Sun, College of Engineering; Xia Ning, College of Medicine

Project description: We propose an AI platform that suggest synthesis pathways with green chemistry considerations for drugs. Our work will support the manufacturing of newly-designed drugs without known synthesis pathways, and optimize existing manufacturing processes to maximize profits and avoid safety risks.


Energy Efficient On-demand Delivery Services (EODS)

PI: Qadeer Ahmed, College of Engineering
Co-investigators: Christopher Atkinson, College of Engineering; Desheng Liu, College of Arts & Sciences

Project description: We aim to address the inherent energy inefficiency of on-demand parcel and grocery delivery services (ODS), as practiced today. This approach will improve the energy efficiency of urban mobility by predicting delivery demand, improving freight and vehicle routing, reducing deadheading and enhancing.


Synthesizing Evidence on Tobacco Control Using Deep Learning and Natural Language Processing (NLP) Methods

PI: CE Shang, College of Medicine    
Co-investigators: Theodore Wagener, College of Medicine; Jian Chen and John Fosler-Lussier, College of Engineering

Project description: This project will explore tools and algorithms in deep learning and natural language processing (NLP) methods to automatically identify, extract, and summarize textual and non-textual data from tobacco research journals, in regard to diverse study populations by age, gender, race/ethnicity, etc.


Local antioxidant release to prevent cataract after vitrectomy

PI: Katelyn Swindle-Reilly, College of Engineering
Co-investigators: Colleen Cebulla, College of Medicine; Heather Chandler, College of Optometry; Eric Miller, College of Veterinary Medicine

Project description: The role of antioxidant and oxygen concentrations in the vitreous will be studied to prevent oxidative damage in the eye. Biomimetic hydrogels with nanoencapsulated antioxidants are being explored to restore antioxidant levels after vitreous removal, potentially preventing cataract.