posted on July 13, 2015

Two MSI Principal Investigators are featured in a recent post on the University’s Discover blog about deep brain stimulation (DBS), a therapy to alleviate tremors associated with Parkinson’s disease and other disorders. DBS uses electrodes inserted into a patient’s brain to electrically stimulate brain circuits, which causes the tremors to be greatly reduced or disappear completely. This is an enormous quality-of-life benefit to patients who sometimes are unable to perform the basic tasks because of their tremors.

Associate Professor Noam Harel (Center for Magnetic Resonance Research) and Assistant Professor Matt Johnson (Biomedical Engineering) are both involved in research to improve DBS therapy. Professor Harel uses imaging software available through MSI to construct 3D maps of a patient’s brain, allowing exact placement of the electrodes. Professor Johnson is using the supercomputers and visualization software in his group’s to create computational models of brain stimulation, which allow them to develop better devices for DBS.

Read the article on the Discover blog.


posted on July 10, 2015

Two MSI Principal Investigators are featured in an article in the latest issue of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences publication Solutions. The article, “7 Things You Don’t Know About Microbes...But Probably Should,” features PIs Professor Linda Kinkel (Plant Pathology) and Professor Michael Sadowsky (Director, BioTechnology Institute; Soil, Water, and Climate). Professor Kinkel uses MSI to process the huge datasets involved in her group’s study of the composition, diversity, and function of plant-associated microorganisms. Professor Sadowsky uses MSI resources for metagenomic studies of the Mississippi River, soil, and the human intestinal tract.

The article can be found on the CFANS Solutions website.


posted on July 8, 2015

Two MSI Principal Investigators have received awards from the New York-based Simons Foundation. This foundation funds research in basic sciences and math.

Assistant Professor Burckhard Seelig, Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Biophysics and member of the BioTechnology Institute (BTI), has been named to the Simons Collaboration on the Origins of Life. He also received a five-year, $1 million grant from the organization. The collaboration is a multi-disciplinary team investigating the origins of life and planetary conditions that could support them.

Professor Seelig uses MSI resources for protein analysis and to store huge libraries of nucleic acids. An article about his work appears on the BTI’s website.

Assistant Professor Jake Bailey, Department of Earth Sciences, received a 2015 Simons Early Career Investigator Award in the field of Marine Microbial Ecology and Evolution. His project will study the largest known bacteria, Thiomargarita spp. These giant bacteria are involved in biogeochemical cycling of carbon, sulfur, nitrogen, and phosphorus. A complete description appears on the Simons Foundation website.

Professor Bailey uses MSI resources to perform single-gene and whole-genome sequence data on sulfur bacteria.

posted on July 6, 2015

The Office of the Vice President for Research has announced that two projects have been awarded Minnesota Futures grants for 2015. These grants fund cross-disciplinary research. Both of these projects, which address new approaches to treating disease, are being led by MSI Principal Investigators.

The projects include (MSI PIs are in bold):

Bacterial polyphosphate metabolism: An unrecognized contributor to dental diseases?
Co-investigators: Jake Bailey (Earth Sciences); Robert Jones (Developmental and Surgical Sciences); Cavan Reilly (Biostatistics); Beverly Flood (Earth Sciences)

Glycoengineering of therapeutic biologics by systems design and combinational synthesis
Co-investigators: Wei-Shou Hu (Chemical Engineering and Materials Science); Timothy Griffin (Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Biophysics); Michael Smanski (Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Biophysics); Nikunj Somia (Genetics, Cell Biology, and Development)

Read more about the projects in the OVPR’s Inquiry blog.


posted on July 1, 2015

A national team of researchers including MSI PI Julian Marshall (Fellow, Institute on the Environment; Civil, Environmental, and Geo- Engineering) recently published a study in which they showed that improving air quality in both “clean” and “dirty” areas could result in 2.1 million fewer air pollution-related deaths per year. The paper appeared in the journal Environmental Science & Technology in June. The researchers developed a model that shows how changes in air quality can result in changes in the rates of health problems.

Professor Marshall uses MSI to study the impact of alternative fuels on air quality and public health. Publications about this work were featured in Research Spotlights in February 2015 and September 2014.

The paper can be read on the Environmental Science & Technology website. An article about the research also appears on the U’s Discover blog.