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sdmuse Space-division multiplexing, shown above, can be achieved with either multimode fibers or multicore fibers.

Prof. Agrawal, former postdoc study ways to boost capacity of fiber optics

Fiber optics revolutionized telecommunications and made the spread of the Internet possible, thanks in part to the advent of wavelength-division-multiplexing and other capacity-increasing techniques.

Now, however, the widespread use of online learning, video streaming and other data-intensive activities are straining the capacity of fiber-based communications systems.

Govind Agrawal, the James C. Wyant Professor of Optics, is teaming up with Bell Lab researcher Rene Essiambre, one of Agrawal's former postdoctoral students, to study space-division multiplexing (SDM) as a possible solution, thanks to a $380,000 National Science Foundation GOALI (Grant Opportunities for Academic Liaison with Industry) award that encourages university-industry partnerships.

Optical fibers are made of transparent glass or plastic — about the size of a human hair — and typically consist of a small transparent core of 10 micrometers, surrounded by cladding. For most long distance communication, pulses of light are transmitted through this core as a single stream of data, using a single mode of propagation.

The effort to increase carrying capacity with space-division multiplexing basically involves one of two options: 1. enlarging the single core in a fiber to handle multiple modes, or data streams, at once (multimode fiber), or 2. placing several separate cores in a fiber (multicore fiber), with each core using a different mode to transmit data.

Both approaches have potential drawbacks, Agrawal noted. Multicore fibers are more expensive to make and have non-standard cladding sizes. Multimode fibers are subject to more "crosstalk" — the interference or other undesired affects that occur when light from one data stream enters another — because the different modes share the same space.

Agrawal and Essiambre will focus primarily on the nonlinear aspects of this interference, which remains at manageable levels in most of the single mode fibers now in use. That will not be the case with the higher power levels and multiple interacting data streams that occur with multicore and multimode fibers.

"We'll be looking at which one (multicore or multimode) is better from a system design point of view, and how much can we improve the system," Agrawal said.

The grant will fund two PhD students in Agrawal's lab. They will travel to Bell Labs for at least one month during each of the three years of the project, Agrawal said. "This is a great opportunity for them, and will give them a chance to acquire valuable industrial experience."

The groundwork for this project was laid when Essiambre approached Agrawal three or four years ago about doing joint research on SDM-related topics. Bell Labs provided three years of funding for that collaboration. "That gave us the chance to write one or two papers, and make some progress," Agrawal noted. "Based on that, we proposed further work to NSF, and that's how this grant resulted."

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UR vaccine technology launched new era in pediatric medicine

Before the advent of an effective vaccine, there were roughly 20,000 Hib infections annually in the United States, primarily among children younger than five. By 2011, only 14 Hib infections in children younger than five were reported in the country.

A key point in that history can be traced to a makeshift lab in the University of Rochester's School of Medicine and Dentistry, where a team of researchers refined an approach to vaccine technology that helped launch a new era in pediatric medicine.

Led by pediatrician David Smith, a team including chemist Porter Anderson, now Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics, and former Medical Center pediatric immunologist Richard Insel developed their version of "conjugate vaccine technology," an approach to boosting the immunity-inducing power of vaccines that's credited with nearly eradicating a once widely feared childhood infection.

The work represented an early example of what today is known as translational medicine — the idea that scientists can move a discovery into a viable, effective treatment more quickly when they are organized to bring their talents together.

Read Rochester Review's story celebrating the 25th anniversary of the FDA's approval of the Rochester vaccine.

Technology Development Fund helps projects reach commercial endpoint

The fall 2015 round of the Technology Development Fund has started. The fund awards winning applications from faculty, staff, or students up to $100,000 to develop their technology to a commercial endpoint. A submitted invention disclosure to UR Ventures is required for an application. Pre-proposals are due October 16 and can be submitted to Omar Bakht. Read more...

Applications sought for funding from Med Center Incubator Program

The School of Medicine and Dentistry's Scientific Advisory Committee has sent out its 2015 Request for Applications for its Incubator Program. The program fosters extramurally funded, nationally recognized interdisciplinary research collaborations in biomedical research that have the potential to generate new strategic directions for the School of Medicine and Dentistry and the University. Details and application instructions are available here. Initial abstracts are due on Nov. 2. Contact Anne Reed for more information.

Introducing a new faculty member

Scott Abramson recently joined the Department of Political Science as an assistant professor. Abramson studies the origins of the modern territorial state, and examines the ways in which political regimes transmit power across generations, the causes of the industrial revolution, and the effects of new military technologies on Japanese state-formation during the Sengoku period. His research uses a combination of formal, quantitative, and historical methods to focus on political development and state formation. Abramson's current book project is The Production, Predation, and the Origins of the Territorial State. Using a new dataset describing the existence, location, and boundaries of every European state between 1100 and 1789, this book represents the first-ever set of systematic empirical tests of competing theories of state formation. To do this, Abramson combined traditional historical analysis with statistical analysis. He earned his PhD from Princeton University, where he was a graduate fellow at the Neihaus Center for Globalization and Governance. Most recently, he was a Max Weber Fellow at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy.

Congratulations to . . .

Hartmut "Hucky" Land, the Robert and Dorothy Markin Professor of Biomedical Genetics and Director of Research and Co-Director of the Wilmot Cancer Institute, who has received a newly established multimillion award from the National Cancer Institute that supports exceptional scientists with seven years of uninterrupted funding. The NCI Outstanding Investigator Award (OIA), in its inaugural year, rewards productive and influential researchers by giving them the freedom to pursue long-term goals without having to re-submit grants each cycle. Land will continue to test a bold hypothesis that's been the cornerstone of his work for 30 years — that different cancers have many shared features, and understanding the common characteristics of cancer might unlock the next generation of targeted treatments. Read more . . .

Nancy M. Bennett, Professor of Medicine and Director of the Center for Community Health, who has been appointed chair of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). The advisory group's medical and public health experts provide advice and guidance to the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and develop recommendations for the use of vaccines to control diseases in the U.S. civilian population. ACIP recommendations, once approved by the CDC director, are published in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report as official public health policy in an effort to reduce the incidence of vaccine preventable diseases and increase the safe use of vaccines. Officially adopted ACIP recommendations also determine vaccine coverage by insurance in the U.S., per the Affordable Care Act.

UR research in the news

Gluten-free, casein-free diets have become popular complementary treatments for children with autism spectrum disorder, but University researchers have found that eliminating these foods had no effect on a child's behavior, sleep, or bowel patterns. The study, which was the most tightly-controlled research on dietary intervention and autism to date, followed a group of children between the ages of 2.5 and 5.5 over the course of 30 weeks. It strictly implemented the gluten-free, casein-free (GFCF) diet with each child. The foods were then reintroduced as double-blind placebo-controlled challenges, while the children's attention, activity, sleep patterns, and bowel movements were meticulously recorded. No significant changes were found when the children were given snack foods with gluten, casein, a combination of both, or a placebo. "These diets have been very popular for many years as potential treatments for Autism Spectrum Disorder, but we have found no evidence that they are effective," said lead author Susan Hyman, Professor of Pediatrics and Chief of the Division of Neurodevelopmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. "We also have concerns that families who try these diets may do so without the support of a dietician. A GFCF diet can meet a child's nutritional needs, but families may benefit from professional advice regarding provision of adequate calcium and vitamin D, for example." Read more . . .

Dejun Lin, Doctoral Candidate in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, and Alan Grossfield, Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics, have found out how a new class of antibiotic drugs kill bacteria without harming their host. AMLPs (antimicrobial lipopeptides) poke holes in bacterial membranes leading to their demise, but tend to leave mammalian cells unscathed. In a study published in Biophysical Journal, the researchers employed computer modeling to understand how individual molecules of AMLPs interact with one another as well as with cellular membranes of both bacteria and mammalian cells. The key, they found, is that AMLPs form highly structured balls, called micelles, before they interact with cellular membranes — and when they do so, they only attack bacterial membranes. "In the case of bacteria, the membrane is negatively charged and the micelle is positively charged, so the micelle sticks on the surface and eventually opens up, creating a hole in the membrane. For the mammalian membrane, the micelle doesn't want to stick. In fact, it's repelled," says Grossfield in the Research at URMC blog. Because AMLPs target cellular membranes, bacteria are not likely to become resistant to them. Current antibiotics tend to target and damage single molecules that are essential for bacteria to thrive. Over time, the bacteria mutate or change the molecule under fire so that the antibiotic no longer recognizes it. This may only require a single mutation in the bacteria. In contrast, in order to resist AMLPs, bacteria would have to mutate many molecules and drastically change the make up of its membrane, which would likely be a suicide mission. Read the full study here.

Mark your calendar

Today: "Physics of Ranking Processes," Gourab Ghoshal, Asst. Prof. of Physics, and "Genomic Consequences of Recent Loss of Sexual Reproduction," Yogeshwar Kelkar, Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Biostatistics and Computational Biology. The Center for Integrated Research Computing (CIRC) symposium. 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Goergen 109.

Today: "The Dementia Epidemic." Thomas V. Caprio, Associate Professor of Medicine, discusses managing dementia from a clinician's perspective and addressing the question of screening when no effective therapy exists. First session of the 2015-16 Public Health Grand Rounds. Noon to 1 p.m., Helen Wood Hall Auditorium (1W-304). Assorted wraps available while they last. Bring your own beverage.

Sept. 22: Regulating Science and Translational Research: Innovation to meet patients' needs. Michael Rosenblatt, Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, MERCK. CTSI Seminar Series. Noon to 1 p.m., Helen Wood Hall Auditorium (1W-304).

Sept. 23: Center for Musculoskeletal Research Symposium. Pamela Gehron Robey, chief of the craniofacial and skeletal diseases branch and chief of the skeletal biology section at the NIH/NIDCR Division of Intramural Research, is the keynote speaker. Also student and faculty research presentations and poster session. 8:55 a.m. to 4:15 p.m., Class of '62 Auditorium (G-9425) and Flaum Atrium (G-9500) at the Medical Center. Read more...

Sept 24: Environmental Health Sciences Research Day seminar, celebrating 50 years of Environmental Health Sciences research at The University of Rochester. Various seminars on EHSC history, new research, community impact, and a poster session. 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Class of '62 Auditorium.

Sept. 30: Industry Consulting: Part One, Karl Kieburtz, CTSI director. Noon to 1 p.m., Helen Wood Hall Auditorium (1-304). Part of the series on Good Advice: Case Studies in Clinical Research, Regulation, and the Law.

Oct. 2: Applications due for a $30,000 award and a $15,000 award from the Lung Biology Strategic Plan for a high-risk project related to lung biology or disease or a nanosight technology-focused project using NS300 technology. Email Richard Phipps or Rebecca Trautman for more information. Click here to see the full RFP.

Oct. 13: "The Promise and Pitfalls of Biomedical Prevention," Sarit Golub, Professor of Psychology at the City University of New York, Hunter College HIV/AIDS Research Team. Sponsored by The Center for AIDS Research (CFAR). 3-3:50 p.m., Helen Wood Hall Auditorium. Reception/mixer to follow with food, beverages, and live music; please RSVP to attend the Mixer: Laura Enders

Oct. 15: Applications due no later than 5 p.m. for CFAR RNA Pilot Announcement. Click here for details.

Oct. 15-16: NIH Regional Seminar on Program Funding and Grants Administration, San Diego, CA. Click here for more information and registration.

Oct. 16: Pre-proposals due for Technology Development Fund awards of up to $1000,000 to advance projects to a commercial endpoint. A submitted invention disclosure to UR Ventures is required for an application. Pre-proposals can be submitted to Omar Bakht. Read more...

Oct. 22: Applications due no later than 5 p.m. for CFAR Major Collaborative Pilot Announcement. Click here for details.

Oct. 30: Applications due no later than 5 p.m. for CFAR Joint Funding Opportunity in HIV/AIDS through SMD, SON and Program Of Excellence. Click here for details.

Nov. 2: Initial abstracts due for applications for funding from Medical Center Incubator Program. Details and application instructions are available 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.