The Workplace of Analysis and Innovation awarded funding for 9 best-in-class initiatives for the inaugural Duke Science and Expertise (DST) Spark Seed Scholarship Program. This 12 months’s winners embody early- to mid-career college from throughout the campus and medical college who had been chosen from a pool of 52 finalists to convey revolutionary and inventive concepts to hunt new instructions and advance analysis and scholarship at Duke.

“As new scientific discoveries and breakthroughs proceed to emerge at Duke, we’re excited concerning the new concepts our college members have for addressing the world’s most urgent challenges by means of analysis,” mentioned Jenny Lodge, Duke’s Vice President of Analysis and Innovation. “The proposals for this 12 months’s DST Spark Seed Grants winners exemplify how analysis can enhance lives – and we look ahead to the accomplishments of every principal investigator over the following 12 months.”


Biomedical engineering

venture: Enabling unbiased detection of force-sensitive protein-protein interactions
PI: Brenton Hoffman, and James L. and Elizabeth M. Vincent Affiliate Professor of Biomedical Engineering

Brenton Hoffman research how the physique’s cells reply to stress or stretching. His staff has developed a wide range of sensors that measure, on the molecular degree, the impact of those forces on particular proteins and their capabilities in residing cells. However proteins not often work on their very own. With the help of the DST Spark Seed Grant, he plans to create applied sciences that can make it doable, for the primary time, to know how mechanical forces have an effect on networks of proteins that cooperate within the cell’s molecular equipment. Hoffman says the work might result in new remedies for situations corresponding to most cancers and coronary heart illness.

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


Environmental Science and Coverage

venture: New Dimensions within the Tropical Setting: Megafaunal Results on 3D Biogeochemical Biking
PI: John Paulsen, Affiliate Professor of Tropical Ecology

John Poulsen, affiliate professor of environmental sciences at George Thomas Leach, will use lidar surveys to measure forest construction in Gabon areas with and with out forest elephants in an effort to measure the affect of huge animals on carbon seize. After two years, the identical measurements will likely be repeated. The evaluation will construct hyperlinks with college in economics and pc science to find out the worth and affect of huge herbivores on the dynamics of local weather change.

John Paulsen, Associate Professor of Tropical Ecology

Marine Science and Conservation

venture: Income carbon dioxide elimination enabled by the conversion of carbonates and bio-products of marine algae
PI: Zachary Johnson, Affiliate Professor of Molecular Biology in Marine Sciences

To fight world warming, we want applied sciences to suck up greenhouse gases, and Duke’s Zackary Johnson envisions a approach to take action: utilizing tiny algae from the ocean. Johnson is engaged on a venture to seize carbon dioxide from energy plant stacks and switch it into bicarbonate, which is then added to marine algae to spice up its development. An algae-based system, says Johnson, might in flip present warmth, electrical energy and protein like soybeans — making it a possible supply of animal diet that does not compete for farmland or recent water. His methodology remains to be within the demonstration stage, however a DST Spark Seed grant will assist him take the idea out of the lab and present if it might be commercially viable at bigger scales.

Zachary Johnson, Associate Professor of Molecular Biology in Marine Sciences


Biology and Bioinformatics

venture: Utilizing deep studying to coach a single-molecule DNA sequencer to precisely determine DNA lesions
PI: Raluca Jordan, Affiliate Professor of Biostatistics, Bioinformatics, Laptop Science, Molecular Genetics, and Microbiology

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

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

cell biology

venture: Synchronous clocks in zebrafish sample
PI: Stefano Di Talia, Affiliate Professor of Cell Biology and Orthopedics

Stefano Di Talia, affiliate professor of cell biology, will examine oscillations within the exercise of a protein kinase referred to as Erk, which seems to be a timer that signifies an everyday sample of backbone segments in zebrafish backbone growth. His group just lately found that Erk’s exercise oscillates throughout your entire notochord and determines the time when vertebral precursors start to kind. The group hopes to determine the mechanism that controls Erk oscillations and construct ample information from this work in zebrafish to safe bigger grant funding.

Stefano Di Talia, Associate Professor of Cell Biology and Orthopedics

Molecular genetics and microbiology

venture: Interrogating mobile gene expression within the creating mind
PI: Debra Silver, Assistant Professor of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, Cell Biology, and Neuroscience

Debra Silver, Assistant Professor of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, will examine mRNA localization and localized gene translation in cells of the nervous system. These processes are key to directing new connections within the creating mind and are particularly centered on just one a part of the progenitor neurons. The venture will try and develop a brand new know-how to measure and management gene expression in only one a part of the cell. The event of a brand new know-how shouldn’t be normally funded by the Nationwide Institutes of Well being, however mastering this method might open up many new grant alternatives and be priceless for understanding native gene expression in methods exterior the mind.

Debra Silver, Assistant Professor of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, Cell Biology, and Neuroscience

Kidney illness

venture: Harnessing Feminine Resilience Components to Promote Renal Restore
PI: Tomokazu Soma, Assistant Professor of Medication

Tomokazu Souma, MD, an assistant professor of nephrology affiliated with the Duke Regeneration Heart, will use human-derived kidney organoids — organs in a dish — to determine new remedies to enhance kidney restore and regeneration. Particularly, his lab hopes to observe up on a latest discovering that females have a larger resistance to acute kidney harm. They wish to know if “feminine resistance elements” might be harnessed to deal with kidney illness.

Tomokazu Soma, Assistant Professor of Medicine

Pure Science


venture: Integration of metabolic platforms and proteomics to resolve the roles of Rad6 in vitality manufacturing and stress resistance
PI: 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 cell’s response to oxidative stress — an extra 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, a wholly new route for his lab. The Spark grant ought to assist them develop new applied sciences and collect sufficient info to observe up on grant purposes.

Gustavo Silva, Assistant Professor of Biology

public coverage

venture: Inequality in Okay-12 schooling and public coverage preferences
PI: Sarah Komisaro, Assistant Professor of Public Coverage and Economics

Relating to college funding, schooling coverage professional Sarah Comisaro says extra US college districts are contemplating a brand new method: one primarily based on scholar wants. The thought 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 residing with a incapacity, for instance — ought to get extra money. The DST Spark Seed Grant will permit Komisarow to gather much-needed information on how details about schooling inequality impacts individuals’s preferences for various spending insurance policies from kindergarten by means of highschool, together with equity-based approaches that direct extra college students’ monetary assets deprived.

Sarah Komisaro, Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Economics

To study extra concerning the Duke Science and Expertise (DST) Spark Scholarship winners, go to search.

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