In this edition of Research Connections, find links to researchers in the news, updates on important deadlines, and more news for University of Rochester researchers. Email not displaying correctly?
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Multiphoton microscope views individual cells as they move through tissue

"Immune cells rapidly respond and relocate to damaged tissues, but you don't know if the cells involved in immune response have been there for a second, a day, or a week. You don't know if they are going to stay there or move. Having a dynamic view of the immune response in inflamed or infected tissues in real time might help us to support or block the body's immune response," explains Deborah Fowell, Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology.

That's why the Multiphoton Core Facility at the Medical Center, featuring an Olympus Fluoview 1000 AOM-MPM (multiphoton microscope), is such a valuable resource — and why Linda Callahan, the facility's technical director, is eager to get the word out.

The microscope lets researchers like Fowell literally watch and image individual cells as they move in real time through live tissue.

"We want to make sure researchers know we are available to all researchers at the Medical Center and at the River Campus," Callahan says.

Multiphoton microscopy — a form of fluorescence microscopy — uses pulsed long-wavelength light to image deeply into living tissue with minimal damage to tissue and cells, Callahan said.

The University's multiphoton microscope is playing a key role in the 5-year, $9 million NIH study Fowell is conducting with three other UR faculty members to adapt and develop cutting-edge imaging techniques that will allow them to view the immune system while it is fighting infection and disease.

The UR multiphoton microscope has also provided critical data for more than 16 actively funded research programs in the past year alone, including the bone repair studies of Edward Schwarz, Director of the Center for Musculoskeletal Research, and Xinping Zhang, Associate Professor of Orthopaedics, and the bone marrow stem cell studies of Laura Calvi, Professor of Medicine (Endocrine/Metabolism).

Other investigators supported in the past year include Mark Buckley, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering; Stephen Dewhurst, Vice Dean for Research and Professor and Chair of Microbiology and Immunology; David Foster, Professor Emeritus of Obstetrics and Gynecology; Denise Hocking, Associate Professor of Pharmacology and Physiology; Wei Hsu, Professor of Biomedical Genetics; Jennifer Hunter, Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology; Minsoo Kim, Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology; James Miller, Professor of Microbiology and Immunology; David Topham, Executive Director of the Health Science Center for Computational Innovation and Professor of Microbiology and Immunology; Lianping Xing, Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine; Michael Welte, Professor of Biology; and Xiuxin Liu, Assistant Professor of Dentistry.

A wide variety of studies have been supported by the multiphoton core, including bone repair, bone niche investigations, collagen structure investigations, skeletal muscle studies, and brain metabolism — to name a few.

(Next: How Callahan and her staff train investigators to use the multiphoton microscope, and an example of research that benefits from the MPM's unique capabilities.)

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University joins call to action to spur innovation, research

The University has joined American business, industry, higher education, science, and engineering organizations in a call to action for stronger federal policies and investment to drive domestic research and development. Ten CEOs and 252 organizations, including the University, signed "Innovation: An American Imperative," a document aimed at federal decision makers and legislators. It underscores the findings — and warnings — contained in the American Academy of Arts & Sciences report, "Restoring the Foundation: The Vital Role of Research in Preserving the American Dream."

The call to action urges Congress to:

1. Renew the federal commitment to scientific discovery by ending sequestration's deep cuts to discretionary spending caps and providing steady, sustained real growth in funding of at least four percent for basic scientific research at the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Energy's Office of Science, the Department of Defense, NASA, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, USDA, and NOAA;
2. Make permanent a strengthened federal R&D tax credit as part of comprehensive tax reform to encourage more private-sector innovation investment;
3. Improve student achievement in science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) with increased funding for proven programs and incentives for science and math teacher recruitment and professional development;
4. Reform U.S. visa policy to welcome and keep highly educated international professionals, particularly those holding STEM degrees from U.S. universities;
5. Take steps to streamline or eliminate costly, inefficient regulations governing federally funded research so researchers can focus more time on conducting research and training the next generation of scientists.
6. Reaffirm merit-based peer review as the primary mechanism major federal agencies should employ in making competitive scientific research grants.
7. Stimulate advanced manufacturing with programs to accelerate manufacturing innovation and new federal-industry-academic partnerships.

The ground rules have shifted as CTSI seeks renewed funding

The Clinical and Translational Science Institute at the University will compete with 61 other current centers and with new center proposals as it seeks renewed NIH funding this year through the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS).

As co-director Martin Zand explains in a CTSI Stories interview with Sean Dobbin, the ground rules have changed. "In the past, the awards were basically individual center awards, where a center puts out a plan for what it was going to do locally that was within the description and requirements of the grant requirements from NIH," Zand explains. "There wasn't much emphasis on collaborations and networking between the 62 centers funded across the country. But over the last two years, there's been a dramatic shift. The expectation over the next funding period will be that all the (centers) across the country will collaborate with each other, and create a cohesive nationwide research network. The goal of this is to accelerate clinical and translational research across the country."

Part of what is driving this change is that close to 30 percent of all NIH sponsored clinical trials are never completed. "It's not that they finished and weren't published, they were just never even finished. So that's a startling and very worrisome figure," Zand notes. Click here to read more about possible reasons for this, about NCATS' new emphasis on team science, and how the new ground rules will affect the University's application.

Free workshop in D.C. offers tips on applying for EU research funding

Horizon 2020 is the European Union's $90 billion research program. A free workshop sponsored by BILAT USA 2.0 Aug. 5 at the Washington Hilton Hotel, Washington D.C., will provide hands-on training in finding and applying for funding opportunities for U.S. institutions and researchers.

The workshop, which will run from 8:30 a.m. to noon, is an opportunity to hear first-hand advice from U.S. research administrators who have assisted faculty in successfully applying for Horizon 2020 awards.

Registration is required here.

Small-molecule inhibitor to be tested as treatment for pancreatic cancer

David C. Linehan, Chair of the Department of Surgery and Director of Clinical Operations at Wilmot Cancer Institute, has received a $300,000 grant to investigate an experimental treatment for pancreatic cancer patients.

Linehan's research focuses on cells known as inflammatory monocytes (IMs), which are non-tumor cells produced in the bone marrow that migrate toward pancreas tumors and promote the spread of the disease. In earlier mouse studies, he showed that by blocking IMs with a novel small-molecule inhibitor, he could slow tumor growth and prevent metastasis. He then completed a phase 1b clinical trial for patients with locally advanced disease, evaluating an experimental IM inhibitor in combination with standard chemotherapy.

Although the drug was well tolerated and showed promise for controlling localized disease, it is unclear whether the same approach will work for patients with cancer that has already spread. The new mouse studies will help to identify which subgroups of patients would derive the most benefit, as well as the appropriate doses and combinations with other therapies. Read more . . .

Introducing a new faculty member

John J. Foxe, a nationally-regarded scientist in the field of neurobiology, has been named the research director of the DelMonte Neuromedicine Institute and the Kilian J. and Caroline F. Schmitt Chair of the Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy at the School of Medicine and Dentistry. Foxe is a translational researcher with more than 20 years of experience studying developmental disorders such as schizophrenia and autism. The core mission of his research is to understand the underlying biological mechanisms of these diseases, with the goal of developing more effective treatments and interventions. His lab studies the neurobiology of multisensory integration — how sight, sound, and touch are knitted together in the brain. Children with autism often have difficulty processing sensory information and the resulting overload may contribute to the repetitive behaviors, social isolation, and the other problems that individuals with this condition experience. Upon arriving in Rochester, Foxe will oversee the creation of a new center that focuses on autism and other intellectual and developmental disabilities. Foxe's appointment will be effective Oct. 1, 2015, pending the approval of the University Board of Trustees. Read more . . .

University research in the news

Children living in low-income households who endure family instability and emotionally distant caregivers are at risk of having impaired cognitive abilities, according to new University research. A study of 201 low-income mother-child pairs, conducted at Mount Hope Family Center, tracked the levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the children at ages 2, 3, and 4. It found that specific forms of family adversity are linked to both elevated and low levels of cortisol in children. Children with either the elevated or low cortisol levels also had lower than average cognitive ability at age 4. "What we were interested in seeing is whether specific risk factors of children living in poverty might be related to children's cortisol levels," said lead author Jennifer Suor, a PhD candidate in the Department of Clinical and Social Sciences in Psychology. "Then we looked to see if the hormone levels are predictive of significant differences in the children's ability to think." Coauthor Melissa L. Sturge-Apple, Associate Professor of Psychology, adds that "the exact mechanisms through which too much or too little cortisol affects cognitive functioning aren't fully understood." Read more . . .

Our brains track moving objects by applying one of the algorithms your phone's GPS uses, according to University researchers. This same algorithm also explains why we are fooled by several motion-related optical illusions, including the sudden "break" of baseball's well known "curveball illusion." "Like GPS, our visual ability, although quite impressive, has many limitations," said the study's coauthor, Duje Tadin, Associate Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences. We see an object's position with great accuracy when it's in the center of our visual field. We do poorly, however, at perceiving position when it shifts into our visual periphery; then our estimate of its position becomes unreliable. When that happens, our brain gives greater emphasis to our perception of the object's motion. "And, this is where we start seeing fascinating phenomena like the curveball illusion," said Tadin. "We've found that the same algorithm that is used by GPS to track vehicles also explains why we perceive the curveball illusion." First author Oh-Sang Kwon adds that "a curveball pitch does indeed curve. But when it is viewed in the visual periphery, the spin of the ball — the motion of the seam pattern — can make it appear to be in a different location than it really is." Kwon is an assistant professor at Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology, South Korea. Read more . . .

New research from Simon Business School reveals the dynamics that influence how bank capital structure affects credit monitoring. The study, by Sudarshan Jayaraman, Associate Professor of Accounting, and two coauthors, delivers new evidence explaining how government safety nets that enhance banking protections, affect bank capital structure, and, in turn, influence bank monitoring and risk-taking behavior. "Our approach examines how banks modify their capital structure in response to changes in the regulation of creditor rights or strengthening the banks legal protection," said Jayaraman. "We believe that the greater the extent of legal protection offered to banks during borrower bankruptcy or renegotiation, the lower the incentives to monitor borrowers before a renegotiation or bankruptcy event becomes necessary." Read more . . .

Congratulations to . . .

Ruola Ning, Professor of Imaging Sciences, who is co-recipient of the Distinguished Inventor of the Year Award, presented annually by the Rochester Intellectual Property Law Association. Ning developed a system that gives a more precise view of breast tissue using cone-beam computed technology. He launched a startup company, Koning Corp., to help take the technology through clinical trials and bring it to the market.

Robert Ready, Assistant Professor of Finance at the Simon School, who coauthored one of two papers that shared the $100,000 AQR Insight Award, given annually by AQR Capital Management to honor exceptional unpublished papers that provde original, intelligent approaches to important issues in the investment world. "Commodity Trade and Carry Trade: A Tale of Two Countries," by Ready and coauthors from the University of Pennsylvania and University of Minnesota, describes a general equilibrium model of international trade and currency pricing that identifies rsk differences across currencies and can be used to understand profitable carry trade strategies.

Two PhD students at The Institute of Optics who have received scholarships from SPIE, the international society advancing an interdisciplinary approach to the science and application of light. James Corsetti, who studies with Duncan Moore, the Rudolf and Hilda Kingslake Professor in Optical Engineering Science, received the Optical Design and Engineering Scholarship. Eric Schiesser, who studies under Jannick Rolland, the Brian J. Thompson Professor of Optical Engineering, received the 2015 Michael Kidger Memorial Scholarship. His research addresses the advantages of non-axi-symmetric optical elements in optical design. He is currently working on packaging optics within the boundaries of a next generation high-power laser in laser fusion energy experiments.

Phd dissertation defenses

Chad Forrest, Physics, "Measurements of the Fuel Distribution in Cryogenic D-T Direct-Drive Implosions." 10 a.m., today, June 26, 2015, B&L 372. Advisor: David Meyerhofer.

Xiaochen Guo, Electrical Engineering, "Energy-Efficient Architectures Based on STT-MRAM." 3 p.m., July 1, 2015, Computer Studies Building Room 426. Advisor: Engin Ipek.

Mark your calendar

Aug. 3: Applications due for the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program, which provides approximately 800 teaching and/or research grants to U.S. faculty and experienced professionals in a wide variety of academic and professional fields. Click here to view a University of Rochester workshop on the program. Questions? Contact Apply directly to the Fulbright program.

Aug. 3: Deadline for AS&E PumpPrimerII awards, which are designed to help innovative, high-risk projects develop proof of concept and/or pilot data in order to secure extramural funding. Arts and Sciences faculty can learn more from Debra Haring; Engineering faculty should contact Cynthia Gary.

Aug. 5: Free workshop on how to apply for Horizon 2020 research funding from the European Union. 8:30 a.m. to noon at the Washington Hilton Hotel, Washington D.C. Sponsored by BILAT USA 2.0. Registration is required here.

Please send suggestions and comments to Bob Marcotte. You can see back issues of Research Connections, an index of people and departments linked to those issues, and a chronological listing of PhD dissertation defenses since April 2014, by discipline.

Copyright 2013, All rights reserved.
Rochester Connections is a weekly e-newsletter for all faculty, scientists, post docs and graduate students engaged in research at the University of Rochester. You are receiving this e-newsletter because you are a member of the Rochester community with an interest in research topics.