Four research teams won the Science Research and Innovation Seed Program Award (formerly known as the College of Science Impact Award) for projects that contribute to human health, drug development and marine science. The SciRis Award carries an amount of $10,000 for each team. The award-winning SciRis teams comprising:
Assistant Professor of Mathematics David Koslicki and Thomas Sharpton, assistant professor of microbiology and statistics, received the SciRis award for metagenomic analysis of voluminous microbiome data that are germane to diverse processes from global nutrient cycling to human disease. The project will enable Koslicki and Sharpton to create a leading-edge research portfolio of new algorithmic and data science solutions for the analysis and mathematical modeling of microbiome data and enhance research productivity by aiding OSU investigators in the analysis of microbiome data. The project will also recruit and train students in metagenomic science. In the long term, the researchers seek to “establish OSU as a center of excellence in microbiome data science.
Assistant Professor of Chemistry Sandra Loesgen and Assistant Professor of Integrative Biology James Strother will collaborate on a project to identify novel microbial natural products with antinociceptive, or pain-relieving, activity using a zebrafish-based behavioral assay, and to characterize the mode of action of new compounds using neural activity mapping. This innovative approach addresses major challenges in neuroactive drug discovery and is highly likely to produce potent new bioactive compounds to develop improved drugs for chronic pain.
This research combines the Loesgen Lab’s expertise with natural products and the Strother Lab’s experience in neuroscience to forge a bold new approach for neuroactive drug discovery.
Associate Professor of Integrative Biology Francis Chan and Stephen Giovannoni, Distinguished Professor of Microbiology, will pursue research on zero oxygen (anoxic) events in ocean ecosystems that are of greatest concern for ecosystems and fisheries. While scientists have developed a clear understanding of the climate-dependent factors that determine the formation of hypoxic (low oxygen) zones, the onset of anoxia remains both difficult to predict and surprisingly infrequent despite the prevalence of hypoxia.
Through recent research combining ocean climate science and marine microbial ecology, Chan and Giovannoni have discovered that oxygen availability has played an important but previously unrecognized role in shaping the evolution of metabolic pathways in microbes, and that such pathways may serve as climate-resilient barriers to anoxia.
Assistant Professor of Microbiology Maude David and Kenton Hokanson, instructor of microbiology and biochemistry and biophysics, will conduct molecular research to address anxiety disorders that affects 40 million people in the U.S. Although women are twice as likely as men to suffer from anxiety disorders, most research at the molecular level has exclusively studied male humans or animal models.
David and Hokanson aim to bridge this knowledge gap by integrating functional, molecular, and behavioral data to identify the role of specific microbial metabolites produced by a bacterium linked with anxiety in humans. This project will be conducted in female mice, maximizing their work’s impact on the large and underserved population of females affected by anxiety disorders.