News

 

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

 

MSI is sorry to note that MSI Principal Investigator Professor John Riedl (Computer Science and Engineering) passed away on July 15, 2013 at the age of 51. He had battled cancer for three years.

 

Professor Riedl was a pioneer in the field of recommender systems. These are the information systems that “recommend” an item, such as a book or movie, based on previous choices. Professor Riedl was internationally recognized for this work and received numerous awards. He had been using MSI resources for the further development of LensKit, a toolkit his group has created for developing and testing recommender algorithms.

 

An obituary of Professor Riedl appears on the College of Science and Engineering website.

 

MSI staff extend their deepest condolences to Professor Riedl’s family, friends, and colleagues.

 

The problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is major, and one that is receiving a great deal of attention from researchers around the world. The Research blog (read the full article) of the Office of the Vice President for Research recently published an article about University faculty who are involved in this research. Some of these faculty members are MSI Principal Investigators:

Professor Linda Kinkel (Plant Pathology) uses next-generation sequencing to study microbes associated with native prairie plants and crop plants. She and her group use MSI resources and the assistance of user support staff to process large datasets of microbial DNA sequences.

Associate Professor Tim Johnson (Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences) analyze microbial genomic data through transcriptomic and metagenomic studies to better understand the role of gut and skin microbial communities in animal health. He and his group use the Galaxy suite and other software available through MSI.

Dr. Michael Sadowsky (Director, BioTechnology Institute, and Soil, Water, and Climate) and his colleague Alexander Khoruts are developing a novel treatment for Clostridium difficile infections. These infections can be caused by antibiotic use. These researchers use MSI resources to process very large datasets of sequence data. Besides this project, Dr. Sadowsky uses MSI for the Minnesota Mississippi Metagenome Project, which studies the microbiota of the Mississippi River.

 

Vice President for Research Brian Herman gave a presentation to the University Regents at their meeting on July 10 that outlined his goals for the University’s research agenda and discussed several initiatives. The Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) is working closely with the University President’s office on strategic planning to advance the University’s research mission.

 

MSI has been supporting research at the University of Minnesota since the 1980s and is well-suited to supporting collaborative, inter-disciplinary research. Highlights of research being done using MSI can be found in the Research Spotlights section of the MSI website. We are also committed to facilitating collaborations between the University and industry. Information about services we can provide to industry partners can be found in the Services section of our website.

 

You can read more about VP Herman’s presentation at the OVPR Research blog. Minutes and video from the Board of Regents meeting are available at the Regents website

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