posted on June 12, 2015

MSI PI Dan Knights, an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering and member of the BioTechnology Institute, was featured recently in a story on Minnesota Public Radio (MPR). The story discusses a new area of medical research, the gut microbiome. The story can be found on the MPR website.

Professor Knights uses math and computational modeling to study microbial communities, including the microbiome of the human gut. He was a co-author on a paper about the fungal microbiome in infants that was featured in an MSI Research Spotlight in April 2015Professor Knights was also profiled in an article by the University of Minnesota Foundation that featured U researchers who use mathematics to conquer problems in medicine

posted on June 10, 2015

On June 8, 130 attendees participated in a Symposium on Precision Medicine, held at the McNamara Alumni Center at the University of Minnesota. The Symposium was jointly sponsored by the Precision Medicine and Health Consortium, MSI, the Academic Health Center, the Department of Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology (College of Pharmacy), and the Consortium on Law and Values in Health, Environment, and the Life Sciences.

presentation at the Symposium for Precision Medicine

Speakers at the symposium included informatics experts from Pfizer Worldwide R&D, AstraZeneca, the Medical Informatics team at Vanderbilt University, and departments and centers at the University of Minnesota.

The schedule and list of speakers can be found at the symposium website.


posted on June 8, 2015

Professor Jian-Ping Wang, an MSI PI from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (College of Science and Engineering), is developing a handheld device that will allow farmers to detect diseases in their livestock. This will be useful because it will allow farmers to react to disease before it has time to infect an entire herd or flock. This work appeared recently in an article about collaborations to curb animal diseases on the OVPR’s Inquiry blog.

Professor Wang uses MSI to support his research into the electronic structure of materials. Last year, he received a prize from the Nokia Sensing XCHALLENGE for a device that may eventually help physicians diagnose serious ailments using just a drop of blood. He was named a Titan of Technology by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal in August 2014. 


posted on June 5, 2015

MSI PI Larry Wackett, a professor in the Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Biophysics and member of the BioTechnology Institute, is a co-founder of Minnepura Technologies, a startup that uses bacteria to purify water. The technology, based on research by Professor Wackett and his colleague Associate Professor Alptekin Aksan, uses bacteria trapped in silica beads. The beads are placed in contaminated water and the bacteria break down the contaminating chemicals. An article about Minnepura Technologies appears on the OVPR’s Inquiry blog.

Professor Wackett is a long-time user of the Supercomputing Institute. He and his group are using MSI’s computational resources to data-mine genomes for new functionalities, support protein crystallographic studies, and perform structural comparison and substrate docking experiments.


posted on June 4, 2015

MSI PI Paul Venturelli (Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology; College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences) has created an app that allows anglers to record their catches. This information will help fisheries managers maintain Minnesota’s lakes. For years, this has been done with in-person creel surveys, but these surveys are time-consuming and expensive to run.

The app, iFish Forever, is free and anonymous. It is an add-on to an iFish app released earlier. Anglers can hit a “Caught One!” button on their iPhone or Android, and input species, length, and whether they kept the fish or threw it back. The phones capture time and date. The app also allows anglers to find out what kinds of fish are in different lakes. 

An article about iFish Forever appears on the U’s Discover blog. It has also received media attention: MPR, KARE11, Minnesota Daily.

Professor Venturelli uses the MSI supercomputers to run simulations that show fish populations and community dynamics on an evolving coastal delta system.