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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Images of reseach

The images above, from the lab of Wei Hsu, Professor of Biomedical Genetics in the Center for Oral Biology, supported a recent paper demonstrating that the gene SENP2 may play an important role in protecting the brain from diseases such as Parkinson's and Huntington's.

Patients with neurological disorders have abnormally high levels of SUMO proteins in their brains. As reported at the Research@URMC blog, Hsu's research with mice strongly suggests that the gene SENP2 is a key regulator of SUMO proteins, and demonstrated that blocking SENP2 in mice causes cell-survival problems that lead to the development of brain degeneration.

They also found that SENP2 acts within the cell's energy source, or mitochondria. This was important because defects in the mitochondria are believed to disrupt the carefully coordinated process of cell self-destruction.

The findings open new opportunities to find drugs that target the SUMO pathway, Hsu said. Theoretically, giving a drug that's based on a form of the SENP2 protein could protect brain cells.

The images above show mitochondria in red, Drp1 (a protein that regulates mitochondrial dynamics) in green, and nuclei in blue. The image on the left is representative of a control group; the image on the right is representative of a group of neurons in which SENP2 is blocked.

Do you have an interesting photo or other image that helps illustrate your research? We would like to showcase it. Send a high resolution jpg or other version, along with a description of what it shows, to

UR startup a finalist in business competition

Raland Therapeutics, a University start up, is one of 11 companies -- chosen from more than 6,900 applicants -- to compete as finalists in the 43North Business Competition in Buffalo.

Each finalist will receive at least $250,000. The top award is $1 million and there will also be six awards of $500,000 each. Winners will be announced Thursday.

Raland Therapeutics is a development-stage bio-device company focused on implantable biosensors. The company's real-time monitoring system, based on technology developed at URMC, uses living cells to "read" a patient's physiologic response to chemotherapy. The system also allows the personalization of dosing strategies to reduce the toxicity that so often impacts a patient's quality of life.

Spencer Rosero, the company's Chief Medical Officer, is an Associate Professor of Medicine and Director of the University's Hereditary Arrhythmias Clinic. He is a heart rhythm specialist who performs procedures such as electrophysiology studies using 3D mapping and radio frequency ablation, implantation of implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs), and pacemakers. Rosero is the inventor of the implantable cell based sensor technology.

The 43North competition operates through a $5.4 million grant from the New York Power Authority as part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Buffalo Billion initiative. The competition is part of Launch NY. Winners receive free incubator space for a year and guidance from mentors related to their field. They agree to operate their business in the Buffalo, New York area for a minimum of one year and provide 43North with 5% non-dilutive equity in their company.

Data sharing: Repositories know how to maintain accessibility

(The second of three parts.)

Set it and forget it.

That's the best way for researchers to comply with the data sharing requirements of federal funding agencies and publishers, suggests Kathleen Fear, Data Librarian with the River Campus Libraries.

In other words, put the data in a repository. A repository is more than an archive, Fear explained. "Repositories make a long-term commitment to data preservation, which means refreshing media, migrating formats, periodically checking the integrity of the data and documentation, maintaining the connection to the publication -- all those little things that people just don't have time to do and which are so important to making sure that the data remain accessible and meaningful over time. The repositories do them, because that's their mission."

Many of them will also track downloads and other usage; you will also have a permanent URL or DOI for your data, which will not change if you move to another university. And that makes it easier for other researchers to gain access -- increasing your citation rate.

Discipline-specific repositories are best, Fear advises. "They have a deep understanding of the data for that discipline and the needs of those researchers," Fear said. "They tend to be the people really driving innovation around data sharing." is a comprehensive directory of disciplinary repositories, with descriptions of over 900 data repositories covering all academic disciplines. Fear said she would be glad to assist in locating and evaluating discipline-specific repositories for UR researchers.

General use repositories are also available, both through the University and through third-party providers. The University offers UR Research (up to 2GB of free storage for data, preprints and other materials) and partners with Dryad (up to 10GB for $80 per data submission, vouchers available from UR Libraries).

External options include FigShare (free storage for up to 1GB of private data and unlimited public uploads of data, figures, papers, and code).

Some repositories offer specialized functions. For example, Dryad's data submission process is integrated with the review process for a number of publishers: "The journal and Dryad work together to ensure that if reviewers need access to the data, they can get that, and that the data and the publication are released at the same time," Fear noted.

For larger data sets, the River Campus Libraries and the university's Center for Integrated Research Computing (CIRC) are piloting REACTUR, which will offer unlimited storage for $200 per TB per year, with a projected startup next spring.

Questions? Contact Fear or, at URMC, Donna Berryman or Linda Hasman.

The Clinical and Translational Science Institute can also assist researchers through its Research Help Desk and its Office of Regulatory Support, which coordinates the University account for and provides assistance for all aspects of registration and result reporting.

(Next: What to share? Who to share it with? And when?)

Unwanted pregnancy a 'marker' for at-risk births

As part of the New York State-funded Perinatal Data System, women are asked a standardized question: "Thinking back to just before you were pregnant, how did you feel about becoming pregnant?"

Tim Dye, Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Director of Biomedical Informatics at the CTSI, and his team have sorted responses from the approximately 300,000 live births in the upstate New York registry. They found that 7 percent were unwanted pregnancies, meaning the women did not want to become pregnant at the time of conception, or at any point in the future, writes Sean Dobbin at the CTSI Stories blog.

Moreover, Dye and his team discovered a slew of associated medical conditions and financial constraints that suggest an unwanted pregnancy may be an important "marker" for caregivers to pay attention to. They found that:

1. the strongest statistical relationships to unwanted pregnancies were women who live in poverty, women with lower educational levels, and women at both extremes of the age spectrum (under 17, or over 40).

2. Women with pre-existing medical conditions, such as hypertension, diabetes, or other chronic illnesses, were also more likely to have an unwanted pregnancy.

3. women with unwanted pregnancies are also more likely to have maternal infections. They were also more likely to have a pre-term birth.

Many people assume that those with unwanted pregnancies are less likely to have or seek prenatal care, said Dye. But this isn't actually true. Dye's statistics showed that 98 percent of women with unwanted pregnancies do have some amount of prenatal care. However, despite the suggestive data about the various risks, women with unwanted pregnancies were actually no more likely to be referred for high-risk care than were other women.

"We certainly see that pregnancies unwanted at conception that result in a live birth are different from other pregnancies," said Dye. "So it could well be a marker for pregnancy that might lead to different kinds of complications, exposures, and risks."

(Dye gave his presentation as part of the CTSI seminar series, which is focusing on women's health this semester. Click here for the schedule of upcoming presentations.)

Neidig seeks ways to replace precious metal as catalyst for pharmaceuticals

Michael Neidig, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, has received an NIH R01 grant for just over $1.4 million over five years to study iron-catalyzed cross-coupling reactions. Neidig is researching ways to replace the more expensive precious metals as a catalyst in the making of pharmaceuticals.

Cross-coupling involves joining two hydrocarbon fragments, with the help of a metal catalyst. In the case of pharmaceutical chemistry, that catalyst is typically a precious metal, which is both expensive and toxic.

"A growing body of research has demonstrated that iron can be an excellent catalyst in these reactions," said Neidig. "But scientists still lack a detailed molecular-level understanding of how these reactions work with iron, which is a significant challenge in moving this field forward."

Neidig's work is intended to expand the number of molecules that can be made using low-cost, sustainable iron cross-coupling methods.

Applications are being accepted for Community Health mini-grant

The Center for Community Health is accepting Community Health Mini-Grant Applications for a grant to be awarded next month. Grant funding of up to $1000 is made on a quarterly basis. Applications are welcome from either URMC or community partners. The application deadline is noon, Monday, Nov. 10. The application and instructions are available here.

Symposium explores 'disability' and 'normalcy'

A number of University departments are sponsoring UR's first Disability Studies Cluster Symposium, "Complicating Normalcy: Disability, Technology, and Society in the Twenty-First Century." The day-long event on Friday, Nov. 14, will be organized around the documentary film FIXED -- The Science/Fiction of Human Enhancement.

The film explores the meanings of "disability" and "normalcy" in contemporary times through the examination of technological and pharmacological advances designed to "fix or enhance the human body," and the bioethical implications and social tensions that arise from these scientific advances. Register here.

Posters sought for annual Wilmot Cancer Institute symposium

Members of the University community are invited to present posters on basic or clinical cancer-related research at the annual Wilmot Cancer Institute Scientific Symposium on Nov. 13. Posters are welcome from a wide variety of areas including molecular biology, virology, epidemiology, gene therapy, cancer treatment, and behavioral and outcomes research.

Prizes will be awarded. The deadline for entries is November 6th. All entries will be accepted. Click here for more information.

Introducing a new faculty member

Jin Xiao has joined the Department of Dentistry as an assistant professor. She has a background of oral microbiology and translational research, and intends to develop a career of bridging clinical practice and translational research and translating the research findings into innovative strategies targeting treating biofilm-related infection disease. She is currently interested in investigating the virulence and three-dimensional structure of oral and peri-implant multispecies biofilms. She earned her DDS (2003), and PhD in oral microbiology (2009) from West China College of Stomatology, Sichuan University, China. She completed her last two years of PhD study (2007-2009) in the Center of Oral Biology, University of Rochester, followed by one year of postdoctoral training there. She also completed an Advanced Education in General Dentistry residency (2013) in the Eastman Institute for Oral Health and a General Practice Residency (2014) in Strong Memorial Hospital.

UR research in the news

Eric Kim, Assistant Professor of Medicine (Hematology/Oncology), reports the first large-scale study to evaluate the length of telomeres in predicting the recurrence of early stage lung cancer. Telomeres are sections of DNA that tell an interesting story about lifespan. Scientists have known the telomere pathway is implicated in many types of cancer. Kim's investigation not only found new connections to lung cancer, but also showed that women with a recurrence of adenocarcinoma (a type of lung tumor) had longer blood telomeres compared to patients without a recurrence. Read more here at the Research@URMC blog.

Recent studies have indicated that the color red tends to increase human attraction toward others, feelings of jealousy, and reaction times. New research by Ben Hayden, Assistant Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, shows that female monkeys also respond to the color red, suggesting that biology, rather than culture, may play a fundamental role in "red" responses. Read more...

In a discovery that might ring true even for some humans, researchers have shown that male brains -- at least in nematodes -- will suppress the ability to locate food in order to instead focus on finding a mate. The results, which appear in the journal Current Biology, may point to how subtle changes in the brain's circuitry dictate differences in behavior between males and females. "These findings point to basic biological mechanisms that may not only help explain some differences in behavior between males and females, but why different sexes may be more susceptible to certain neurological disorders," said Douglas Portman, an Associate Professor in the Department of Biomedical Genetics and Center for Neural Development and Disease and lead author of the study. Read more . . .

PhD dissertation defenses

Cuicui Wang, Pathology, "Investigating the Role of NOTCH Signaling in Fracture Repair." 9 a.m., Oct. 28, 3-7619 Upper Adolph Auditorium. Advisor: Matthew Hilton.

Kuan-Ching (Chris) Tseng, Chemical Engineering, "The Potential Therapeutic Approaches to Improve Peripheral Nerve Functional Recovery from Injury." 8:30 a.m., Oct. 31, Whipple Auditorium (2-6424). Advisor: John Elfar.

Jason Inzana, Biomedical Engineering, "Three-Dimensional Printing of Antibiotic-laden Calcium Phosphates for Treatment of Orthopaedic Implant-associated Bone Infections." 8 a.m., Nov. 7, 101 Goergen Hall. Advisor: Hani Awad.

Mark your calendar

Today: "Cryptography and Privacy -- and the Role for Mathematicians (Part 2)." 10th G. Milton Wing Lecture Series, 1 p.m., Goergen 108. Featuring Susan Landau, Professor of Cybersecurity Policy, Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Oct. 28: Growing the Next Generation of Community-based Researchers. Office of Faculty Development and Diversity Fall Research Conference. Noon to 5 p.m., Schlegel Hall. Click here for more information and registration.

Oct. 29: The Stanford Friedman Memorial Conference, from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Class of '62 Auditorium, will address gaps related to understanding the impact of child and adolescent development and behavior on engaging youth in health promoting behaviors, and the interface of health and behavior in conditions such as conversion reactions. Click here for a link with more information.

Nov. 2: Applications due in several funding categories for the 2014 Pilot Award Program of the University's Center for AIDS Research. Click here to learn more.

Nov. 3: Deadline for initial abstracts for SMD Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) "superpilot" awards. Click here to read the full RFA.

Nov. 10: Noon deadline tp apply for a Center for Community Health mini-grant to be awarded next month. Grant funding of up to $1000 is made on a quarterly basis. The application and instructions are available here.

Nov. 11: Technology Commercialization at the University of Rochester. Patrick Emmerling, Licensing Manager, UR Ventures. Noon to 1 p.m., Gowen Room, WIlson Commons. RSVP to

Nov. 13: "The Co-Evolution of Humans and Machines." Lecture by Paul Horn '72 (MA) '74 (PhD), Senior Vice Provost and Senior Vice Dean for Strategic Initiatives and Entrepreneurship, Polytechnic School of Engineering, New York University. 5 p.m., Hawkins-Carlson Room, Rush Rhees LIbrary. Register by Nov. 3 at or with Meghan Barnhardt at (585) 275-1490.

Nov. 13: Annual Wilmot Cancer Institute Scientific Symposium. Click here for more information.

Nov. 14: Disability Studies Cluster Symposium: "Complicating Normalcy: Disability, Technology, and Society in the Twenty-First Century." Organized around the documentary film FIXED -- The Science/Fiction of Human Enhancement, which explores the meanings of "disability" and "normalcy" in contemporary times through the examination of technological and pharmacological advances designed to "fix or enhance the human body," and the bioethical implications and social tensions that arise from these scientific advances. Register here.

Nov. 19: 2014 Regional Proteomics Symposium, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Class of '62 Auditorium and the Flaum Atrium. Speakers from a variety of Western New York universities and institutions, and a poster session highlighting protein identification work at the University of Rochester. Register here. For more information, contact Mark D. Platt, MSRL Director at or at (585) 276-6804.

Dec. 9: How to Find Inventions, What Makes a Good Invention, and How to Find Prior Art. Reid Cunningham, IP attorney, UR Ventures. Noon to 1 p.m., Gowen Room, WIlson Commons. RSVP to

Dec. 10: Celebration of Authorship, featuring printed and electronic books, edited volumes and texts, as well as published compositions and recordings produced by University faculty and staff from all fields. 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., Hawkins Carlson Room in Rush Rhees Library. Click here for more information.

Please send suggestions and comments to Bob Marcotte. To see back issues, click here.

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.