News

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.
Two MSI PIs have been elected to as Fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The AAAS, which is one of the most prestigious honor societies in the U.S., recognizes leaders in academia, the arts, business, and public affairs. The 2020 inductees will be honored at a ceremony in October 2020. The MSI PIs on the list are:
On Wednesday, May 6, 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 May 6. Jobs that cannot be completed before 5:00 a.m. on May 6 will be held until after maintenance and then started once the system returns to production status.May maintenance will include:
Professors Timothy LaPara and Raymond Hozalski, MSI PIs from the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geo- Engineering, are leading a study of whether the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 might be spread through drinking water. While most drinking-water supplies are treated, which would kill the virus, experts don’t know whether water that comes from private wells or from areas that don’t treat their water might be contaminated.
MSI PI Jian-Ping Wang (professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering) is a co-leader, with Professor Maxim Cheeran (Veterinary Population Medicine), of a multidisciplinary team that is developing a portable device that can detect the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the virus that causes COVID-19. Professor Wang has been developing this technology, which is based on magnetic particle spectroscopy, for the past ten years. Stories about the project can be found on the following websites:
One of the methods used to fight the COVID-19 pandemic is tracking individuals who come in contact with someone who has the disease. MSI PI Shashi Shekhar (professor, Computer Science and Engineering) thinks we can use GPS data from cell phones to perform this tracking and to evaluate how effective responses to the disease have been. This technology would be faster and more efficient than the current manual method of contact tracing.
The University of Minnesota recently announced new awardees to the McKnight Presidential Fellows Program. Three MSI PIs are included in the 2020 class. The McKnight Presidential Fellows Program is a three-year award given to exceptional faculty who have just achieved tenure and promotion to associate professor, to recognize their accomplishments and support their ongoing research and scholarship. The MSI PIs on the list are:
Four MSI PIs have been named Distinguished McKnight University Professors. This program recognizes outstanding faculty members who have recently achieved full professor status. The MSI PIs on the list are:
In order to control the invasive species buckthorn, land managers have turned to using goats. The notoriously voracious browsers eat large quantities of buckthorn, but there is a concern that buckthorn seeds might be spread through the goats’ feces.
MSI PIs are involved in the development of a new alternative mask to N95 masks, which are used to protect the wearer against viruses such as the novel coronavirus. The new masks are created out of filtration material typically used in diesel engines. They don’t require sewing, instead being formed by folding and heat-sealing the material. Tests show that they can filter out 95% of air particles, even as small as viruses.
MSI has introduced a new service, Dedicated Computing. This service allows researchers to purchase dedicated access to computing if groups have computational needs beyond what they can get through the regular MSI allocation process.

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