Two MSI PIs, Professor Larry Wackett (BMBB, BioTechnology Institute) and Professor Michael Sadowsky (Soil, Water, and Climate, BioTechnology Institute), are part of a team developing a silica sponge stuffed with bacteria that can eat the contaminants in water that are a result of the hydrofracturing process. This process, also called fracking, uses millions of gallons of water.

The new technology involves bacteria embedded in porous silica fibers. Because the many of the contaminants in frack water are organic, they are potential food for bacteria. The team looks for bacteria that will eat the specific contaminants. The team has filed for a patent for this technology. An article about the project appeared recently on the UMNews website.

Professor Wackett uses MSI’s genomics resources in coordination with experiments to help identify novel metabolism and biocatalytic reactions in organisms. Professor Sadowsky uses MSI’s resources for the Minnesota Mississippi Metagenome Project, which aims to provide a greater understanding of human activity’s impact on the water of the Mississippi River. Professors Wackett and Sadowsky are working with Professor Alptekin Aksan in the Department of Mechanical Engineering on this project. 


The National Center for Food Protection and Defense (NCFPD), a Homeland Security Center of Excellence located at the University of Minnesota, recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Chinese Academy of Inspection and Quarantine. The agreement creates a partnership between the two organizations, both of which work to prevent intentional contamination of the food supply. An article about this historic agreement appeared recently in the Minnesota Daily


MSI is working with the NCFPD to create databases and web interfaces that allow researchers to work with and analyze their data. A recently completed project includes a database that automatically imports data from U.S. government agencies and a web interface that allows the researchers to perform statistical analysis on the data. The interface also generates plots and other summaries. MSI application developers are now working on a project that will allow NCFPD researchers to collaborate and discuss their projects in a secure web-based environment.   

On Wednesday, August 7, 2013, from 04:00 - 15:00, MSI staff will perform scheduled maintenance and upgrades to the network and various systems.

During this maintenance period, we will be performing a site-wide maintenance. Most MSI systems will be down for a short period of time; the systems down for maintenance include:

  • MSI networking -- external connections will be intermittently unavailable from 4 am - 6 am.
  • All infrastructure systems will be briefly down for patches (login, labs, NX, Windows infrastructure, databases and web servers) 
  • Primary storage (Panasas) will be unavailable 5am - 6am for patching
  • Itasca, Calhoun, Koronis and Cascade will be unavailable during the morning for patches and system maintenance.


Systems status is always available on our Status page.

If you have any questions, please email



The University of Minnesota Foundation recently published an interview with Professor Jaime Modiano (Veterinary Clinical Sciences), an MSI PI and director of the Animal Cancer Care and Research program in the School of Veterinary Medicine. Professor Modiano and his colleagues have developed a treatment method for brain cancer in dogs that combines immunotherapy and surgery. It has been so successful that the Food and Drug Administration has given the treatment accelerated approval for testing in humans.


Professor Modiano’s comparative studies of tumors in dogs, mice, and humans have allowed them to find evolutionarily conserved molecular abnormalities that contribute to the origin and progression of these tumors. His group uses MSI resources to perform studies to study the genomes and transcriptomes of various types of tumors. Professor Modiano’s colleague, the late Dr. John Ohlfest, who is mentioned in the introduction to the interview, was also an MSI PI.


You can read the interview with Professor Modiano on the UM Foundation’s website


MSI PI Professor Craig Packer (Ecology, Evolution and Behavior) has been studying lions in Africa for decades. His work appears in the August issue of National Geographic magazine. One article, “Living With Lions,” discusses how humans and lions can successfully coexist. Another, “The Short Happy Life of a Serengeti Lion,” is about Professor Packer’s extensive research into the behavior of these animals, the only big cats who live in groups. This article describes Professor Packer as “arguably the world’s leading authority on the behavior and ecology of the African lion.”


Professor Packer’s group is using MSI resources to run a computer model they have created to investigate the transmission of bovine tuberculosis in the lions of Kruger National Park. Lions contract bovine TB, an exotic invasive disease in the park, through consumption of prey that are infected with the disease and from other lions. The model uses approximate Bayesian computation techniques to define the likely statistical transmission rates and use these to forecast lion population size and disease prevalence. 


BBC Radio also broadcast a story about Professor Packer and his research, which you can listen to on their website