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Notre Dame Research a “Top Pick” by Nature Microbiology for Best of 2016

Author: Sarah Craig

Alex Perkins, PhD, Eck Family Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, and a member of the Eck Institute for Global Health, is among the “Best of 2016” editor’s top 10 picks for the publication Nature Microbiology, a nature research journal. According to the publication, each year the most popular content is chosen to highlight research that is being viewed, shared, blogged, and picked up by the news.

Perkins Alex

Perkins’ paper, Model-based projections of Zika virus infections in childbearing women in the Americas, was ranked #2 for 2016. “It was incredible to see the media attention that this work received,” notes Perkins. “I think that shows what a gap there is between the public’s interest to know what the future holds for Zika and scientists’ limited ability to give them answers to those questions in the early stages of a disease’s emergence. We are making progress, and I think this paper was recognized as an important early contribution to understanding the extent of the Zika threat across the Americas.”

Research in the Perkins Lab applies mathematical modeling to the study of infectious disease transmission dynamics and control, with a focus on mosquito-borne diseases such as Zika, dengue, and malaria.

Aedes aegypti mosquito

The Eck Institute for Global Health recognizes health as a fundamental human right and endeavors to promote research, training, and service to advance health standards Read More

Reilly Center Releases 2017 List of Emerging Ethical Dilemmas and Policy Issues in Science and Technology

Author: Jessica Baron

Reilly Center 2017 List

For the fourth year in a row, the University of Notre Dame’s John J. Reilly Center for Science, Technology and Values has released a list of emerging ethical dilemmas and policy issues in science and technology. The 2017 list includes freezing brains and swarms of drones and highlights issues in robotics, neuroscience, education and medical management.

In putting out the annual list, the center aims to present items for scientists, policymakers, journalists, teachers, students and the public to consider in the coming months and years as new technologies develop.

The 2017 list includes:

NeuV’s “emotion engine” – A blend artificial intelligence, robotics and big data that let’s your car know how you’re feeling.

Swarm warfare – The military’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is looking for a way for drones to act in unison so that hundreds or thousands can be controlled on the battlefield at the same time.

Reanimating cryonics – An old fad that now aims to freeze your brain so it can be downloaded into a computer in the future.

Edublocks – By 2026 we may have a large marketplace of informal experts and learners exchanging skills and knowledge for money, buying and selling education piece by piece.

Brain hacking – Wearable devices that measure EEG waves are easy to come by, but a simple hack into your headset could reveal a whole host of your most private information.

The self-healing body – There are at least two projects going on now that aim to create bots so small they can move through your blood or attach to your nerve endings. Either by electrical stimulation or a release of chemicals, these bots may regulate our bodies before we even know something is wrong.

Medical ghost management – Pharmaceutical companies can hire firms to perform their clinical trials, write up the research, find academics to put their names on publications, place them in journals and run their marketing campaigns. An invisible and monumental conflict of interest. Read More

Researchers confirm molecule's role in kidney formation

Author: Gene Stowe

Rebecca Wingert And Team

Research in the laboratory of Rebecca Wingert, the Gallagher Family Associate Professor of Adult Stem Cell Research in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Notre Dame, has confirmed the key role of a certain small molecule in the development of kidney structures in zebrafish, a widely used model for human kidneys. The discovery could help advance understanding to address issues such as birth defects and repair of the kidney after illness or injury.

Using an innovative screen approach that graduate student Shahram Jevin Poureetezadi designed, the team exposed zebrafish embryos to small molecules, prostaglandin E2, from a chemical library of such molecules known to be active in cell development generally. The researchers wanted to identify small molecules that regulate or modify development. They discovered that activating or interrupting the prostaglandin pathway has a direct impact on the kidney, meaning that it is essential for normal development. Read More

Eli Lilly Faculty Fellowship Provides Drug Discovery Experience

Author: Brandi Klingerman

Notre Dame Researcher Developing Medication Delivery System to Combat Diabetes

Haifeng Gao 2

Diabetes is a metabolic disease in which the body has an inability to produce enough insulin. In the United States alone, it is estimated that the illness affects nearly 30 million diagnosed and undiagnosed people, and treatment often includes patients using an intravenous or IV method to get insulin into their system. This uncomfortable and inconvenient form of treatment can require anywhere from two to four injections a day, but a Notre Dame researcher is working to combat this problem with a less frequent, oral delivery system. Read More

Notre Dame Researchers Advise WHO Global Health Policy

Author: Sarah Craig

Alex Perkins, PhD, Eck Family Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, and a member of the Eck Institute for Global Health, along with Guido Espana who holds a postdoctoral position in the Perkins laboratory, were recently published in the journal PLoS Medicine. The results of their study are important contributions to the evidence base that led the World Health Organization (WHO) to form their policy position on the only currently available dengue vaccine.

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According to the lead author, Stefan Flasche from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, UK, the first available dengue vaccine, CYD-TDV (Dengvaxia), is estimated to reduce the burden of dengue and be potentially cost effective in settings where infections with dengue are common. Perkins notes, “this is an important discovery that suggests to the WHO that a one-size-fits-all policy recommendation for use of the Dengvaxia vaccine is not advisable.” Read More

Why Don’t Patients Listen to their Doctors?

Author: Arnie Phifer

A new Notre Dame research program looks for solutions to the problem of medical nonadherence

As part of the launch of a new research program in Health-Related Behavioral Sciences, the University of Notre Dame’s Advanced Diagnostics & Therapeutics initiative has made its first award to support an investigation of why patients with Type 2 diabetes don’t always follow their prescribed medical regimens.

Doctor Patient

The study, led by Guangjian Zhang, Associate Professor of Psychology, will collect pilot data on adherence to recommendations from physicians—regarding medication, diet, physical activities, sleep, and self-administered blood tests—in forty Type 2 diabetes patients and develop statistical methods to analyze the intensive longitudinal data that are produced.

“Our long term goal is to contribute to the understanding, prevention, and treatment of lifestyle-related chronic diseases,” said Zhang, “and diabetes is an important place to start.”

The World Health Organization estimates that there are 422 million people in the world living with diabetes, and work by other researchers suggest that only 7.3% of diabetes patients fully meet all three goals of controlling blood sugar, blood pressure, and blood lipid levels. Read More

Turning Ideas into Reality for Colon Cancer Research

Author: Jenna Bilinski

In July, 2014, Mike Patterson received some news that changed his life forever. He was diagnosed with stage four colon and liver cancer.

“They didn’t give me a lot of hope,” recalled Patterson.

Like many patients after receiving such a diagnosis, Mike asked for a second opinion. However, he was given the same grim verdict and began looking at treatment options. With very little time and few options, it was decided that chemotherapy was the best route. After several months of treatment, and no progress, Mike’s team of doctors decided to schedule his surgery on December 12, 2014. A date that now holds great significance to Mike.

This date was picked by his surgeons and happens to be the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which celebrates a religious apparition of the Virgin Mary.

While Mike was going through chemotherapy treatments, he was paid a visit by his friend, Brother Mauricio. Brother Mauricio traveled to the United States from Mexico and brought with him the shroud of Our Lady of Guadalupe. With the shroud, he prayed with Mike to defeat this monstrous disease. 

(Left to right) Dr. Amanda Hummon, Dr. Sharon Stack, and Mrs. and Mr. Mike Patterson

Mike recovered from his surgery with no complications. A couple weeks after surgery, Mike visited his oncologist for a post-operation check-up. He showed no signs of either cancer. Mike said, “They couldn’t give a medical explanation for what happened or how it happened … I instantly went from hopelessness to complete gratitude.” Ever since, Mike has been determined to do all he can with the resources he has, to help eradicate this disease.

During the Fall of 2015, Mike learned about the cancer research being conducted at the University of Notre Dame’s Harper Cancer Research Institute. Here he was introduced to the work of Dr. Amanda Hummon, Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Notre Dame and exceptional colon cancer researcher at the Harper Cancer Research Institute. Read More

Eli Lilly Faculty Fellowship Provides Drug Discovery Experience

Author: Brandi Klingerman

Notre Dame Researcher Developing Medication Delivery System to Combat Diabetes

Haifeng Gao 2

Diabetes is a metabolic disease in which the body has an inability to produce enough insulin. In the United States alone, it is estimated that the illness affects nearly 30 million diagnosed and undiagnosed people, and treatment often includes patients using an intravenous or IV method to get insulin into their system. This uncomfortable and inconvenient form of treatment can require anywhere from two to four injections a day, but a Notre Dame researcher is working to combat this problem with a less frequent, oral delivery system.

Haifeng Gao, an assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry as well as an affiliated member of ND Energy and NDnano, is working at the newly opened McCourtney Hall to engineer soft nanomaterials and develop a polymer, or substance that has a molecular structure consisting of mostly large numbers of similar units bonded together, that could potentially carry insulin throughout the body. For the polymer to work, it would need to survive the harsh environment of the stomach, control the encapsulation of the insulin, and program the release of medication in a way that is as effective as current treatment methods. To do all of these things, Gao’s goal is to develop a unimolecular polymer carrier with multiple domains and functional groups, which utilizes several components that can work synergistically. Read More

Illuminating Ovarian Cancer Surgery

Author: Angela Cavalieri

One in 77 women will develop ovarian cancer in her lifetime.  Because ovarian cancer has no defined symptoms, most women will be diagnosed at a late stage of the disease where metastatic lesions are found dispersed throughout the abdomen.  Ovarian cancer is currently the fifth most common cause of cancer-related deaths in women. With new technology being developed at the Harper Cancer Research Institute, the ovarian cancer surgery success rate may ultimately improve significantly.

Ovarian cancer distinctly spreads in the abdomen generating many sites of cancer along the peritoneum, the tissue lining the abdominal cavity. The most common treatment of ovarian cancer includes a debulking surgery, or the removal of cancerous lesions from the abdominal/peritoneal cavity. Currently, ovarian cancer surgeries are considered a ‘success’ with the removal of all tumors 1cm or larger. However, with research being developed at the Harper Cancer Research Institute, this goal could soon become the removal of tumors as small as 1mm.

The major challenge lies in distinguishing the healthy cells from the cancerous cells. Anatomy text books are often color-coded and thus the identification of the body parts is simplified. However, in reality the tissue structure within the human body actually appears as a blend of pinks varying to reddish in color and is very difficult to decipher. There may be little to no visible distinction between healthy tissue and cancer cells or even nerves.

Enter a multi-colored, fluorescent signaling, targeted molecule tagging system. Bradley Smith, a principal Investigator at the Harper Cancer Research Institute, Director of the Notre Dame Integrated  Imaging Facility (NDIIF), and Emil T. Hofman Professor of Chemistry at the University of Notre Dame, has developed targeted, or “smart,” molecules that seek out and bind to specified cells. These molecules attach to the cancer cells and emit a fluorescent signal when viewed through a fluorescent camera and glow in a specified color. 

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New Discovery Paves Way for Pancreatic Cancer Treatment

Author: Jessica Sieff

Reginald Hill

Pancreatic cancer, the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths, is projected to be the second by the year 2030, according to a study in the journal of Cancer Research. The five-year survival rate is only 8 percent, making it the only major cancer with a survival rate in the single digits. Despite rising mortality rates, pancreatic cancer is under-researched and underfunded, and there are few Food and Drug Administration-approved treatments to combat the disease.

With the current pipeline for drug discovery taking 10 to 15 years from the laboratory to use, and an estimated 41,780 who will die from the disease this year alone, time is of the essence.

Now, patients suffering from pancreatic cancer may soon face better treatment options due to the latest discovery by Dr. Reginald Hill, Archibald Assistant Professor of Cancer Biology at the University of Notre Dame and researcher at the Harper Cancer Research Institute. Hill’s research focuses on drugs that are already approved by the FDA to find out why those drugs are not working in patients with pancreatic cancer.

“The bulk of a pancreatic cancer tumor is made of approximately 10 percent cancer cells and 90 percent supporting cells. Somehow, the supporting cells have figured out how to survive the chemotherapy,” Hill said. “Microscopic vesicles called exosomes, bubbles with genetic material released by cells during chemotherapy exposure, are released from supporting cells, educating the cancer cells on how to survive, resulting in a tumor becoming chemoresistant.”

Previous research has revealed that the majority of pancreatic cancer cases are resistant to chemotherapy and unresponsive to drug treatments found to be effective in other types of cancer.

Most new research has focused on destroying supportive cells. However, those studies concluded that when the supportive cells were attacked, patients actually developed more advanced cancer. “It was like poking holes into the area around the cancer cells and allowing it to spread,” he said.

Hill focused on blocking the release of exosomes, preventing the relay of information from supporting cells to cancer cells — which increased the efficacy of chemotherapy. This recently published study suggests that using an exosome blocker, which is nontoxic, in combination with standard-of-care chemotherapy will those with pancreatic and many other cancers as well. Read More

Before a cure, a crusade to stop lung cancer from spreading

Author: Jessica Sieff

Robert Stahelin

The American Cancer Society has reported that lung cancer, which kills more Americans than any other type of cancer, is expected result in an estimated 158,080 deaths in 2016.

Although drugs are currently available to fight lung cancer, drug discovery challenges persist because treatment options are limited. Not only is lung cancer often drug resistant, but radiation treatment and surgery can be quite difficult depending on the location of the tumor(s) within the lungs.

Robert Stahelin, adjunct associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Notre Dame, is working to better understand lung cancer at a cellular level and is investigating drugs that could inhibit lung cancer growth and prevent it from spreading.

“I’m looking at signals within the lung cancer cells that cause them to grow quickly, move and divide,” he said. “With cancers, a primary tumor may metastasize and attack another organ in the body. Lung cancer often metastasizes — or spreads — to other organs such as the liver. Once the liver is infected, the cancer causes increased health problems and patients are more likely to succumb to the disease.”

Stahelin’s laboratory aims to advance understanding of how the mechanisms of lipid signaling are controlled in lung and other types of cancers. Membranes, composed mainly of lipids, hold the keys to cell division, growth and metabolism necessary for cancer cell growth and metastasis.

That understanding could ultimately help to determine the causes of lung cancer and identify viable targets, lipids or proteins for drug development and treatment.

Contact: Robert Stahelin, 574-631-5054,

Originally published by Jessica Sieff at on November 11, 2016. Read More

Notre Dame Researchers Receive CTSI Pilot Research Grants

Author: Brandi Klingerman

Indiana CTSI grants encourage use of core facilities throughout the State

The Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CTSI) announced that University of Notre Dame researchers have been awarded grants through the CTSI Pilot Funding program. The program is intended to promote the use of technologies and expertise available through CTSI Core Facilities, which are available at the partner institutions. 

Melancon2Bruce Melancon

In describing the awards, Bruce Melancon, CTSI Notre Dame site navigator and research assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry, said, “The CTSI Pilot Funding program encourages faculty to utilize resources that they may not have considered. This provides an opportunity for CTSI-funded researchers to innovate and move their research to the next stage of the translational pathway.”

The goal of the grant is to award proposals that demonstrate outstanding scientific merit and that can also be linked to generating extramural funding or novel intellectual property through the use of Indiana CTSI designated core facilities.

Among the awarded grants:

Athanasia PanopoulosAthanasia Panopoulos

Athanasia Panopoulos, Elizabeth and Michael Gallagher Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences and affiliated member of the Harper Cancer Research Institute (HCRI), will conduct research for her project on “Molecular Profiling of Hematopoietic Progenitor/Stem Cell Populations.”

Kevin T. Vaughan, associate professor of biological sciences and HCRI affiliate, will work on his project about identifying new drug treatments for neurodegenerative diseases. Read More

Fighting for Better Cancer Detection

Author: Brandi Klingerman

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In the United States alone, there are nearly 240,000 breast cancer diagnoses each year, and one in eight women will develop breast cancer at some point in her lifetime. To date, mammograms are the best diagnostic technology for breast cancer. A mammogram’s ability to detect tumors at early stages has made breast cancer one of the most treatable forms of cancer, but there are still almost 50,000 missed diagnoses every year.

For many women, that missed diagnosis comes from having dense breast tissue which prohibits clear results from a basic mammogram. Breasts are made up of three types of tissue: fatty, fibrous and glandular. Most women have a mix of the three, but if the fibrous and glandular tissue outweigh the fatty tissue, women are classified as having dense breasts, wherein lies the problem. Fatty tissue appears transparent on X-rays which makes abnormalities like microcalcifications and tumors easy to see. However, fibrous and glandular tissue are less transparent which makes it difficult to detect abnormalities in a mammogram. Read More

Notre Dame chemists expand collaboration with Heidelberg University to include biomedical research

Author: Chontel Syfox

HeidelbergLeft to right: Markus Enders(Heidelberg University), Patricia Clark, Shahriar Mobashery, Amanda Hummon and Sharon Stack.

The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Notre Dame and the Faculties of Chemistry and Biosciences at Heidelberg University came together at a mini symposium on October 20 and 21 in Heidelberg, Germany.

The mini symposium discussing the interface of chemistry, biology, and medicine was a part of a larger collaboration between Notre Dame and Heidelberg, which was established in 2014 with the signing of a memorandum of understanding. The memorandum saw both institutions agreeing to explore joint research projects, student exchange, and other cooperative efforts together. According to Olaf Wiest, professor of chemistry and biochemistry who led the effort, “this was a return visit after hosting a mini symposium on catalysis at Notre Dame in 2014 and expands the collaboration into biomedical research.” Read More

Stavropoulos Family Foundation makes $10 million gift to Notre Dame for biophysical research

Author: Dennis Brown

Biology Lab

The William and Linda Stavropoulos Family Foundation of Midland, Michigan, has made a $10 million gift to the University of Notre Dame for the creation of a center specializing in biophysical research in the College of Science.

“The interconnectedness of biology and physics to understanding living systems is longstanding, but in recent years has become even more central to scientific research,” said Thomas G. Burish, Charles and Jill Fischer Provost of the University. “Bill and Linda’s generous and visionary gift will give us the opportunity to significantly expand our work in this arena. We are most grateful.”

Mary Galvin, William K. Warren Foundation Dean of the College of Science, added: “We deeply appreciate the generosity of Bill and Linda Stavropoulos. Their support will enable us to attract a cluster of elite research talent to significantly strengthen science and biophysics at Notre Dame. This field of knowledge is crucial as we seek to explore the physical principles of biology and make advancements in human health.”

Physics has played an important role in biological research for many years, with the most well-known example being the work of James Watson, Francis Crick, Maurice Wilkins and Rosalind Franklin in the discovery of the DNA double helix. The intersection of biology and physics has increased dramatically in recent years as the important questions in biology have become more fundamental in nature. Read More

Of Synergy and Science

Author: Andy Fuller

Cross-disciplinary research building anchors new research quad

Change sometimes happens slowly, then all at once. On the northeast side of Notre Dame’s campus, a new quadrangle has emerged on space that seemingly just days ago was occupied by a parking lot and sidewalks. Anchoring this new quad on its east side is the state-of-the-art, 220,000 square foot McCourtney Hall of Molecular Science and Engineering. Its opening comes as shifts in the broader research community are hastening a change in how scientific discoveries are taking place.

“You can’t do anything these days without working with someone else, and usually in a very different discipline,” said Brian Baker, the Rev. John A. Zahm Professor of Structural Biology and chair of the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry within the College of Science. Faculty from Baker’s department are among those who began working at McCourtney Hall when the building opened for the fall semester 2016.

“Chemistry and biochemistry are fundamental disciplines,” Baker said. “Everything from medicinal chemistry to drug discovery to cancer biology, so much of it depends on fundamental chemistry and biochemistry.” Read More

Identifying DNA and Developing Data

Author: Brandi Klingerman

How the Genomics and Bioinformatics Core Facility helps solve health and other research questions

2015 Genomics 4 1

When it comes to battling disease and maintaining healthy environments, DNA sequencing can be imperative to success. At the University of Notre Dame, the Genomics and Bioinformatics Core Facility (GBCF) supports research in many areas that increasingly rely on DNA sequencing, including cancer biology, vector-borne diseases, the development of drug and antibiotic resistance, monitoring invasive species, and much more.

The GBCF has two distinct groups: Genomics and Bioinformatics. Michael Pfrender – the GBCF Faculty Director, associate professor of biological sciences, and an affiliated faculty member of the Eck Institute for Global Health (EIGH) and the Notre Dame Environmental Change Initiative (ECI) – explains how the two groups work together, Read More

Paul P. Weinstein Memorial Lecture – Global Health in the 21st Century

Author: Sarah Craig

The 2016 Paul P. Weinstein Memorial Lecture presented by the Eck Institute for Global Health featured B. Fenton “Lee” Hall, MD, PhD, Chief of the Parasitology and International Programs Branch (PIPB) in the Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (DMID) at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). 

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The career of Dr. Lee Hall fittingly reflects and embodies the ideals and achievements of Weinstein. Both men have made significant contributions to the United States’ premier biomedical research institution, the National Institutes of Health, and specifically to a better understanding of the parasites that cause human suffering and death around the globe. Also, they were both heavily involved in the prestigious American Society for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. Read More

Notre Dame’s Association for Women in Science hosts inaugural graduate student conference

Author: Chontel Syfox

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On Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, 2016, the Association for Women in Science–Notre Dame (AWIS-ND) hosted its inaugural conference for female graduate students, which was the first of its kind in the Midwest region.

The Notre Dame chapter of AWIS’s mission is to initiate, encourage, and engage women in STEM in a welcoming and supportive environment, creating a sense of belonging and providing opportunities for success. Their Women in Science Conference, an event hosted for and by female graduate students, aimed to provide an environment of empowerment for women and an arena in which strong relationships within a community of interdisciplinary scientists might be fostered. Read More

Notre Dame Student Research Makes Positive Impact on Health in Northern Indiana

Author: Ashley Scott '13 MS

While many of our Master of Science in Global Health students traveled internationally for their Capstone in May and June, Kaila Barber ’15, ’16 MS, a Notre Dame Varsity Track Athlete, conducted her capstone research project in South Bend, Indiana with AIDS Ministries AIDS Assist (AMAA). AMAA is a local organization that provides care coordination services for persons living with HIV (PLWH) in North Central Indiana and free HIV testing and educational outreach for the community. Through the work of Notre Dame’s Assistant Professor Heidi Beidinger-Burnett, the Eck Institute for Global Health (EIGH) has developed a strong partnership with AMAA.

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Dr. David R. Hyde and team are one of six groups awarded $12.4 million from the NIH as part of the audacious effort to reverse blindness

Author: Tiffanie Sammons

David R. Hyde, Ph.D.

Dr. David Hyde and his team have been awarded over $1.9 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to lead one of six projects planned to identify biological factors that influence neural regeneration in the retina.

The projects are part of the National Eye Institute (NEI) Audacious Goals Initiative (AGI), a targeted effort to restore vision by regenerating neurons and their connections in the eye and visual system. These six projects will receive a total of $12.4 million over three years, pending availability of funds.

“Understanding factors that mediate the regeneration of neurons and the growth of axons is crucial for the development of breakthrough therapies for blinding diseases. What we learn through these projects will have a health impact beyond vision,” said Paul A. Sieving, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the NEI, part of NIH.

“The National Eye Institute’s Audacious Goals Initiative is to regenerate neurons and neural connections in the eye and visual system to restore sight to individuals who are blind. This Audacious Goals grant award is very important for two reasons,” said Dr. Hyde. “First, it is based on regenerating the neurons from adult stem cells that are already present in the eye. This approach will reveal that in many ways, adult stem cells are potentially more powerful to regenerate neurons in an organism than embryonic stem cells. Second, by Notre Dame being the lead institution on this grant, it demonstrates that our scientific expertise, in certain research areas, rivals the top medical schools in the country. This award will bring increased visibility to Notre Dame, the Center for Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine, and our commitment, for scientific and ethical reasons, to pursue the research and application of adult stem cells over embryonic stem cells to treat debilitating neurological diseases.” Read More

Notre Dame Student Researcher Participates in Biomedical Entrepreneurship Crash Course

Author: Brandi Klingerman

The Warren Family Research Center for Drug Discovery and Development funds graduate student to attend SPARK at Stanford 


Each year, SPARK, a Stanford University initiative that provides the education and mentorship in order to advance research discoveries from the bench to the bedside, hosts a diverse group to participate in a 12-day training course in biotech innovation and entrepreneurship. The program provides an understanding of how biotechnology products, such as medical devices, food science, and general medical science, and companies are created, established, managed, advertised, and funded.

Ricardo Romero, graduate student of the Integrated Biomedical Sciences program and researcher in the Harper Cancer Research Institute, had the opportunity to attend the program through the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (Indiana CTSI). Support for Romero’s participation in the program was provided by the Warren Family Research Center for Drug Discovery and Development (Warren Center). Students and professionals from a variety of institutions and countries participated in the course in order to grow their skills in innovation by working in groups to develop real product ideas and potential start-up companies.

Romero currently works with Laurie Littlepage, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry, on reversing cancer progression. Specifically, he researches breast cancer metastasis, or occurrence in bones. When describing the knowledge he gained from the experience, Romero said, “I loved the opportunity to attend the training course and because of the Warren Center, I was able to see other aspects of science that I hadn’t previously experienced, learn from such a culturally diverse group of people, and better understand how to utilize my research skills for potential commercialization opportunities.” Read More

Notre Dame Researchers receive Collaborative Indiana CTSI Awards

Author: Brandi Klingerman

University of Notre Dame faculty to conduct research together with Indiana University and Purdue University

Ctsi Ctr AwardeesFrom left to right: Joel Boerckel and Zhangli Peng

The Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (Indiana CTSI) recently announced multiple recipients of the Collaboration in Translational Research Pilot (CTR) Grant Program. The CTR Program seeks to foster and encourage collaboration across Indiana CTSI partner institutions by awarding up to $75,000 for the projects.

In describing the awards, Rich Taylor, deputy director of the Indiana CTSI and professor of chemistry and biochemistry, said, “The CTR grant program provides an opportunity for faculty to enhance the translational aspects of their research by creating new collaborative relationships.”

The goal of the awarded translational projects is to have immediate potential to develop into larger, externally funded research programs or generate novel intellectual property.

Among the awarded grants in this cycle:


  • Joel Boerckel, assistant professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering at the University of Notre Dame, and Margaret Schwarz, professor of pediatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine – South Bend, will work together on a research project entitled, “Mediation of Arteriogenesis in tissue remodeling following Hind-Limb ischemia.” 

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IDEA Center created to catalyze new research, innovation, commercialization initiatives

Author: Dennis Brown

IDEA Center

The University of Notre Dame will create new innovation and commercialization initiatives under a new entity to be known as the IDEA Center — standing for Innovation, Discovery and Enterprise Acceleration.

To be located in Innovation Park, the center will provide technical services and expertise for idea development, technology translation, business formation and commercialization.

The current Office of Technology Transfer and the staff of Innovation Park will be joined with several new initiatives to comprise the IDEA Center. The University has launched a search for a new vice president and associate provost for innovation.

“Notre Dame is committed to growing its community of innovators and entrepreneurs through our new IDEA Center,” said Thomas G. Burish, Charles and Jill Fischer Provost. “With the University’s mission in mind — that of being a powerful means for doing good in the world — this bold initiative will enable Notre Dame’s entrepreneurial environment to be best in class for our entire community, from undergraduates to postdoctoral scholars, faculty members to local business collaborators.”

A distinctive element of the IDEA Center will be the development of Idea Champions, current and new staff members who will directly interface with University researchers, students and inventors to help guide a creative concept through the commercialization process by partnering with each of the other services within the center. The Idea Champions will serve as navigators for inventors through the complex world of intellectual property protection and licensing, and, in some cases, the inventor’s role within a startup company. The champions also will look across campus for ideas that may not be immediately recognizable for their commercial potential and help develop those ideas through proper channels. Read More

Fighting to Cure Food Allergies

Author: Brandi Klingerman


Sarah McKenzie knows the deadly potential of food allergies all too well. Her young son, Gunner, has a peanut allergy, and while the family is attentive, the smallest mistake can endanger him. Like the time she ate a peanut butter cookie and hours later triggered a life-threatening reaction in her son with a simple kiss. 

In the ER he recovered, but they live in constant fear of the next time his allergies take over. But Professor Basar Bilgicer hopes to make allergies, and the accompanying anxiety and trauma, a thing of the past. For an aspiration that large, he had to start small. Biomolecular small.

Read more here.

Originally published by Brandi Klingerman at on September 09, 2016. Read More

Notre Dame to Host Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute Retreat

Author: Brandi Klingerman

One-day event will offer presentations and discussion, plus tour of new McCourtney Hall

Ictsi Logo

Researchers from Indiana University, Purdue University, and the University of Notre Dame will be attending the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (Indiana CTSI) retreat hosted at the University of Notre Dame on Friday, October 21, 2016. 

During the event, faculty, students, and other researchers will have the opportunity to present posters and hear from colleagues throughout Indiana. In addition, keynote speaker James Inglese, Principal Investigator of the Division of Pre-Clinical Innovation at the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, will speak on the design and implementation of assays for chemical biology and drug discovery. Mark Fox, Dean of the Indiana University School of Medicine – South Bend, will also speak at the event.

“The 2016 Indiana CTSI Retreat is a fantastic opportunity to highlight translational biomedical research and researchers from Notre Dame,” said Richard Taylor, professor of chemistry and biochemistry as well as deputy director of the Notre Dame CTSI. “We look forward to hosting our colleagues from across the state-wide consortium and working together to identify new ways to strengthen and support the entire spectrum of translational research from scientific discovery to improved clinical care.” Read More

Annual Research Funding at Notre Dame Tops $128 Million

Author: Brandi Klingerman

Professor Amy Hixon works with an undergraduate researcher in her Stinson-Remick lab, department of Civil Engineering and Environmental and Earth Studies

The University of Notre Dame has received $128 million in research funding for fiscal year 2016 — the second highest in its history. In fiscal year 2015, the University’s research funding was its highest of all time, reaching $133 million.

“The research, scholarship and creativity of Notre Dame faculty continues to make a difference in multiple ways across our country and around the world,” said Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., the University’s president. “The growth in external funding is a tangible testimony to the importance of their work.” Read More

Notre Dame interdisciplinary researchers receive $1.1 million grant from NIH

Author: Tammi Freehling

Junli 250Jun Li

Researchers representing four labs across two colleges at Notre Dame have received a four-year, $1.1 million Research Project Grant (R01) from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The oldest grant mechanism used by the NIH, the R01 provides support for health-related research and development based on the mission of the NIH.

Patriciaclark 250Patricia Clark

Principal Investigators of this grant include two from the College of Science: Jun Li, Ph.D. of the department of Applied and Computational Mathematics and Statistics (ACMS) and Patricia Clark, Ph.D. of the department of Chemistry and Biochemistry; and two from the College of Engineering: Scott Emrich, Ph.D. and Tijana Milenkovic, Ph.D. both of the department of Computer Science and Engineering.

The awarded project, titled “Integrative Computational Framework for Pattern Mining in Big -omics Data: Linking Synonymous Codon Usage to Protein Biogenesis,” expands upon a line of inquiry started several years ago by Clark and Emrich, who sought to develop a computational approach to test the hypothesis that small changes to the rate of protein synthesis could change the folding of the encoded protein. Read More

Researchers to pursue novel Zika solution

Author: William G. Gilroy

Aedes aegypti mosquito

A team of researchers from the University of Notre Dame’s Eck Institute for Global Health (EIGH) has received a grant from the USAID to pursue a novel solution to the Zika outbreak. The team, led by Molly Duman Scheel, an associate professor of medical and molecular genetics at the Indiana University School of Medicine-South Bend (IUSM-SB), associate adjunct professor of biological sciences at Notre Dame and member of EIGH, is developing an insecticide to destroy Aedes aegypti larvae before the mosquitoes are able to hatch and transmit Zika. Read More