News

MSI PIs Rhonda Franklin (professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering) and Chris Pennell (associate professor, Laboratory Medicine and Pathology; Masonic Cancer Center) have been named the inaugural Abbott Professors in Innovative Education from the Institute for Engineering in Medicine (IEM).
MSI PI Ya Yang (assistant professor, Plant and Microbial Biology)
MSI PI Matthew Clark (assistant professor, Horticultural Science) has been named Research Director of the Horticultural Research Center (HRC) at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. Professor Clark is an expert in breeding cold-hardy grapes and he uses software available through MSI for genetics and genomics studies that are part of this research.
On Wednesday, July 1, 2020, MSI staff will perform scheduled maintenance and upgrade to various MSI systems. Primary Storage, Mesabi, and Mangi will be unavailable throughout much of the day. A global system reservation will start at 5:00 a.m. on July 1. Jobs that cannot be completed before 5:00 a.m. on July 1 will be held until after maintenance and then started once the system returns to production status. July maintenance will include:
Four MSI PIs have received awards from the 2020 Research Infrastructure Investment Program. This Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) program is designed to support transdisciplinary research and collaboration across the U of M. OVPR made 12 awards this year. Below are the MSI PIs who received awards:
New research by MSI PIs Hyun Soo Park (professor, Computer Science and Engineering) and Michael McAlpine (professor, Mechanical Engineering) and PhD student Zhijie Zhu (McAlpine research group) describes a way of 3D printing a sensor on an organ that is expanding and contracting. The method uses motion-capture technology and may eventually allow for monitoring of the lungs of COVID-19 patients.
A grant from the U of M’s Minnesota Futures program is funding research into chronic wasting disease (CWD), a fatal prion disease that affects thousands of deer in Wisconsin and Minnesota. The disease is a serious threat to Minnesota’s hunting industry. MSI PI Eric Seabloom (professor, Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior) is leading the research.
Thanks to a $35M donation from Minnesota Masonic Charities, the University of Minnesota is assembling a large group of brain researchers and clinicians to form the Masonic Institute for the Developing Brain. The focus of this Institute will be on the sensitive periods for brain development, the first 1,000 days and adolescence.
MSI PI Andrew Simons (professor, Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology) was featured recently on the Bell Museum’s blog. Professor Simons is the curator of the fishes collection at the Bell, and the interim curator of the mollusk and crustacean collection. The fishes collection contains specimens collected since the late 19th century.
The CGIAR, a global research partnership for a food-secure future, has published a new report, "Dealing with data privacy and security to support agricultural R&D." The report was written by James Wilgenbusch (Director, Research Computing), Ben Lynch (MSI Associate Director for Scientific Computing), Naomi Hospodarsky (MSI Research Security and Compliance Analyst), and Phil Pardey (MSI PI and professor, Applied Economics).
Two MSI PIs are co-investigators on a new $15 million grant from the National Institutes of Mental Health to study psychosis. David Redish (professor, Neuroscience) and Sophia Vinogradov (professor and head, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences) will lead a new Silvio O. Conte Center called NeuroPRSMH (NeuroPlasticity Research in Support of Mental Health) with an interdisciplinary research team.
MSI PI Timothy O’Connell (associate professor, Integrative Biology and Physiology) and his collaborator at Penn State have received a five-year, $3.4 million grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health. The grant will fund research into the mechanistic basis for omega-3 fatty acids’ protection of the heart in coronary heart disease. This could lead to more effective treatments using omega-3 fatty acids.
The University’s Stem Cell Institute (SCI), an interdisciplinary center that was the first such academic institute in the U.S., celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2020. Several SCI researchers, including its first director, Dr. Catherine Verfaillie, are or have been MSI PIs. A story about the SCI featuring several current MSI PIs appears in the Spring 2020 issue of the Medical School’s publication Medical Bulletin: Stem Cell Ingenuity.
The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Innovation Ecosystem has launched the COVID-19 Risk Factor Modeling Challenge. This opportunity may be of interest to MSI users. From the challenge information:
On Wednesday, June 3, 2020, MSI staff will perform scheduled maintenance and upgrade to various MSI systems. Primary Storage, Mesabi, and Mangi will be unavailable throughout much of the day. A global system reservation will start at 5:00 a.m. on June 3. Jobs that cannot be completed before 5:00 a.m. on June 3 will be held until after maintenance and then started once the system returns to production status. June maintenance will include:
MSI PI Clark Chen (professor and head, Neurosurgery) is a co-author on a recent paper that studied how the brain cancer glioblastoma becomes resistant to radiation therapy. While radiation is the standard for glioblastoma, the treatment rarely cures the disease, and the tumor usually starts growing again after a period where it is stopped.
MSI PI Kathryn Cullen (associate professor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences) is leading a study to determine whether using brain stimulation combined with mindful breathing could help young people with depression. Participants in the study use mindful breathing, a calming technique. In some of those participants, researchers add noninvasive brain stimulation using a cranial cap. The researchers are using MRI and EEG to measure any adjustments in neural networks.
MSI PI Ryan Langlois (assistant professor, Microbiology and Immunology) was interviewed recently about his team’s work to develop a vaccine against the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. This group is using a different development method than other groups working on a vaccine. Professor Langlois explains his research in the interview, which appeared on Minneapolis/St.
MSI PI Sunil Kumar Mor (assistant professor, Veterinary Population Medicine) returned to the U of M campus in early February from King George’s Island in Antarctica. Professor Mor performed next-generation sequencing on lactic acid bacteria as part of an international, interdisciplinary project. The project is using technology that allows the researchers to perform this work on-site, rather than having to transport samples back to their labs.
MSI PI Marc Jenkins (Regents Professor, Microbiology and Immunology; Director, Center for Immunology) has been elected as a member of the National Academy of Sciences. Membership in this organization is one of the highest honors a scientist can receive.

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