Iowa State University

COVID-19 seed grants awarded to 7 ISU research projects

1-Jul-2020 5:30 PM EDT, by Iowa State University

Newswise — In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Iowa State University’s Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) has selected seven high-impact projects to receive institutional funding through a new seed program dedicated to addressing the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. 

Established by the OVPR in late May 2020, the COVID-19 Research Seed Grant program (CRSG) was created to encourage faculty in all academic disciplines to apply their expertise to the COVID-19 pandemic. The highly competitive application process welcomed 21 research proposals, with five of Iowa State’s seven colleges represented. While four projects were initially slated to receive CRSG funding, additional financial support from the College of Engineering, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and College of Agriculture and Life Sciences allowed seven teams to ultimately be selected. 

Each of the teams will receive $15,000 to pursue projects rapidly for up to six months. CRSG funding will support the initial stages of high-risk, high-reward projects that address the COVID-19 crisis. 

“One of the most important functions that research serves is to explore solutions to society’s greatest challenges, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is one of them,” said Iowa State Interim Vice President for Research Guru Rao. “We had originally budgeted to fund four projects through this program. However, the quality of the proposals our researchers developed was so outstanding, we are delighted that we are able to support seven total projects through collaboration with our college partners.” 

COVID-19 Research Seed Grant Recipients:

Proposal Title: “Analysis and Therapeutic Targeting of the SARS‐CoV‐2 Frameshift Element”

Walter Moss, assistant professor, Roy J. Carver Department of Biophysics, Biochemistry, and Molecular Biology

Allen Miller, professor, Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology

Cathy Miller, professor, Department of Veterinary Microbiology and Preventative Medicine

Funding Source: College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

One of the main medical challenges associated with combating the COVID-19 pandemic, caused by a SARS‐CoV‐2 infection, is the current lack of a treatment or cure. To identify a strong antiviral drug, Moss, Miller, and Miller believe an answer lies in targeting the structure of the virus RNA genome itself to determine ways to slow down its replication in human hosts. By better understanding the RNA structure of SARS‐CoV‐2, they will be able to identify drugs capable of binding specifically to the virus genome, altering its ability to replicate.

 

Proposal Title: “COVID-19 Vaccine Development”

Michael Cho, professor, Department of Biomedical Sciences

Funding Source: Office of the Vice President for Research

Cho’s focus lies not in treating COVID-19 once the virus is already contracted by a patient, but in finding a way to prevent it entirely by creating a protective vaccine. Operating on the concept of eliciting antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, Cho plans to develop a vaccine based on the receptor binding domain of SARS-CoV-2. His vaccine candidate is currently being evaluated in mice, and he will use CRSG funding to finish the process as quickly as possible before moving on to conduct immunogenicity studies in non-human primates, as well as clinical trials.

 

Proposal Title: “Development of a High Throughput Drug Screening Platform for COVID-19”

Donald Sakaguchi, Morrill professor, Department of Genetics, Development, and Cell Biology

Metin Uz, associate scientist, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering

David Verhoeven, assistant professor, Department of Veterinary Microbiology and Preventive Medicine

Funding Source: Office of the Vice President for Research

Development of a protective COVID-19 vaccine and effective virus treatment protocols are both long-term goals, resulting in the immediate need for a platform to better understand host-pathogen interactions. Sakaguchi, Uz, and Verhoeven’s research will help to develop a novel, human-relevant 3D in vitro model of co-cultured human respiratory system cells to mimic the respiratory tract more accurately. The model will be used to screen COVID-19 drug candidates before they are used in human patients. Current screening platforms are predominantly based on static 2D cell culture, which does not correctly represent the microenvironment of the human respiratory system or cell-to-cell interactions.

 

Proposal Title: “Rapid, Low-Cost Detection of COVID-19 in Self-Administered Human Saliva Samples Using Printed Graphene Electrochemical Sensor”

Jonathan Claussen, associate professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering

Carmen Gomes, associate professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering

Funding Source: Office of the Vice President for Research

As testing for COVID-19 continues to be a complicated, costly, and often unpleasant process, Claussen and Gomes contend that there is a critical need to develop a simple, low-cost, and accurate technique for diagnosis. The team’s proposed testing system would use self-collected human saliva samples instead of nasal swabs administered by a medical professional. The alternate system would be able to provide results in approximately 20 minutes and would not require lab equipment or trained personnel. The technology could be used to check for COVID-19 before employees enter their place of work each day, or to help patients know if they are virus free and able to exit self-quarantine. Each test kit would cost less than $6 — compared to $35.92 for COVID-19 tests developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and $51.33 for commercial tests.

 

Proposal Title: “Point-of-Care Sensors for Rapid and Low-Cost Detection of COVID-19 Infections”

Pranav Shrotriya, professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering

Marit Nilsen-Hamilton, professor, Roy J. Carver Department of Biophysics, Biochemistry, and Molecular Biology

Funding Source: College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, College of Engineering

The increasing demand for access to COVID-19 testing resources is also the focal point for Shrotriya and Nilsen-Hamilton’s research, with an emphasis on reducing the rate of false negative and positive results. By using electrochemical sensors, the duo plans to develop a portable device that can detect the presence of SARS CoV-2 at a molecular level in saliva. To identify SARS-CoV2 infections, Shrotriya and Nilsen-Hamilton will equip sensor surfaces with DNA sequences that can hybridize with portions of the virus’ RNA genome. The sensor will convert the hybridization into an electrical signal, resulting in a positive or negative response.

 

Proposal Title: “A Proof-of-Concept Study Towards a Handheld Respiratory Virus Sensor for Rapid Identification and Quantification of SARS-CoV-2 in Exhaled Breath”

Meng Lu, associate professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Department of Mechanical Engineering

Liang Dong, professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Jianqiang Zhang, associate professor, Department of Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine

Funding Source: Office of the Vice President for Research

Although also interested in examining better avenues for COVID-19 testing, Lu, Dong, and Zhang are looking away from saliva altogether and opting instead for a different type of sample to screen for the virus: breath. As simple as current alcohol breath tests, the team plans to collect virus particles directly from exhaled breath. The finished product will be a handheld breathalyzer with a response time of less than seven minutes and at a cost of less than $1 per test.

 

Proposal Title: “Machine Learning-Based Predictive Modeling of the Host Microbiome to Improve Host Immunity to SARS-CoV-2 Infection”

Claus Kadelka, assistant professor, Department of Mathematics

Albert Jergens, professor, Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences

Gregory Phillips, professor, Department of Veterinary Microbiology and Preventive Medicine

Michael Wannemuehler, professor, Department of Veterinary Microbiology and Preventive Medicine

Funding Source: College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

While the roll out of a COVID-19 vaccine is still at least a year away, Kadelka, Jergens, Phillips, and Wannemuehler are investigating ways to ensure that once it is ready, it can be as effective as possible. The human gut and its myriad microorganisms have a large influence on the function of the immune system, including how effective vaccines are. Together, the group is pursuing a way to combine experimental data with machine-learning modeling to identify specific host and microbial genes, and the products they encode, that may boost or suppress host immunity. The long-term goal of the project is to identify features of the microbiome that boost SARS-CoV-2 vaccine responses.

 

By Caitlin Ware, Iowa State University Office of the Vice President for Research




Filters close

Showing results

1120 of 3411
Released: 25-Sep-2020 12:55 PM EDT
COVID-19 shapes political approval ratings
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Approval ratings of political leaders surged in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Released: 25-Sep-2020 12:40 PM EDT
ASU Researchers Receive $6m State Contract to Develop Rapid, 20-Minute Covid-19 Saliva Test
Arizona State University (ASU)

As the world manages through the coronavirus pandemic, Arizona State University continues its work to discover and develop easier and more widespread COVID-19 testing to assist in managing the virus.

Released: 25-Sep-2020 11:55 AM EDT
Scholars untangle marketing's complex role in understanding political activities
American Marketing Association (AMA)

As 2020 began, many pundits predicted a politically charged year, but few predicted that it would include a global pandemic overtaxing healthcare resources, strained U.S. race relations resulting in mass demonstrations across the globe, devastating fires consuming massive swaths of the United States, and a catastrophic global economic downturn.

Released: 25-Sep-2020 10:50 AM EDT
COVID-19 Spurs Anxious, Upsetting Dreams
American Psychological Association (APA)

The anxiety, stress and worry brought on by COVID-19 is not limited to daytime hours. The pandemic is affecting our dreams as well, infusing more anxiety and negative emotions into dreams and spurring dreams about the virus itself, particularly among women, according to research published by the American Psychological Association.

Released: 25-Sep-2020 10:15 AM EDT
Risk Communication Expert Offers Public Health Guide to COVID-19 Retweets
University at Albany, State University of New York

Researchers analyzed 150,000 tweets about COVID-19 from about 700 state and local agencies between February and April 2020 to see what factors led to the most retweets.

access_time Embargo lifts in 2 days
Embargo will expire: 30-Sep-2020 8:00 AM EDT Released to reporters: 25-Sep-2020 10:00 AM EDT

A reporter's PressPass is required to access this story until the embargo expires on 30-Sep-2020 8:00 AM EDT The Newswise PressPass gives verified journalists access to embargoed stories. Please log in to complete a presspass application. If you have not yet registered, please Register. When you fill out the registration form, please identify yourself as a reporter in order to advance to the presspass application form.

Newswise: World Lung Day 2020: Respiratory Groups Call for Research to Prevent, Detect and Treat Respiratory Infections
Released: 25-Sep-2020 9:45 AM EDT
World Lung Day 2020: Respiratory Groups Call for Research to Prevent, Detect and Treat Respiratory Infections
American Thoracic Society (ATS)

Today, on World Lung Day (WLD), the American Thoracic Society is united with members of the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS) and WLD partner organizations to advocate for respiratory health globally and call for more research to prevent, detect and treat respiratory infections.

Newswise: Diaphragm Pacing can Enhance Recovery and
Weaning from Mechanical Ventilation in Cardiac Surgery, Small Series Concludes
Released: 25-Sep-2020 8:55 AM EDT
Diaphragm Pacing can Enhance Recovery and Weaning from Mechanical Ventilation in Cardiac Surgery, Small Series Concludes
University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center

Surgeons at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center have improved the prognosis of several cardiac patients after emergency FDA approval of a diaphragm pacing device.


Showing results

1120 of 3411

close
0.98237