The awards fund collaborative research projects between IBB faculty members at Rice and researchers in the Texas Medical Center. The seed grants, presented Oct. 31 by the Hamill Foundation, are intended to help researchers develop proposals for more substantial grants and awards from national and international agencies.
This year’s honorees are:
, assistant professor of bioengineering, and Charles Lin, assistant professor of molecular and human genetics at Baylor. They are working to build synthetic versions of insulated neighborhoods – chromatin structural domains central to genome organization – to gain a better understanding of their structure and transcriptional function. They expect to learn about the fundamental mechanisms of gene regulation. Inappropriate regulation is the source of many human diseases, including cancer and various genetic disorders.
, associate professor of biosciences and bioengineering (BIOE) at Rice, and Ankit Patel, assistant professor of neuroscience at Baylor College of Medicine, and assistant professor electrical and computer engineering at Rice. They will use high-resolution imaging and machine learning to understand the complex interactions between single-cell organisms, like bacteria in the gut microbiome, and their hosts. The work will enable the development of new therapeutic interventions.
Xue Sherry Gao
, T. N. Law Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (ChBE), and Han Xiao, assistant professor of chemistry and biosciences, CPRIT Scholar in Cancer Research and Norman Hackerman-Welch Young Investigator at Rice. They plan to incorporate synthetic amino acids into cells that add building blocks to the genetic code and generate protein structures and functions. They expect the resulting biomolecules to revolutionize medicine through novel therapeutic approaches.
, associate professor of BIOE at Rice; Matteo Pasquali, professor of ChBE, of materials science and nanoengineering, and of chemistry a Rice; and Alex Sweeney, assistant professor and Dorothy L. McGee Endowed Chair of otolaryngology and head and neck surgery at Baylor. They are developing a carbon nanotube fiber cochlear implant to help those who are hard of hearing or deaf. Thin, flexible and conductive nanotube fibers created in Pasquali’s lab could give the small device more and better connections to the inner ear’s auditory nerve.
, the Noah Harding Professor of Statistics and department chair, and Dana DeMaster, assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. They are using a statistical approach to analyze neuroimaging data from children with traumatic brain injury. Their models of brain connectivity networks will lead to a better understanding of brain function and improved diagnostics and treatment.