Past Awards: 2015

The following are brief descriptions of the projects selected for Research Infrastructure Investment Program awards in 2015. These awards are designed to facilitate interdisciplinary partnerships and strengthen the University’s research infrastructure. One-to-one matching funds from the collaborating colleges, institutes, and/or centers were required for funding eligibility.

3D Bioprinting/Biofabrication Facility

Angela Panoskaltsis-Mortari, Bioprinting Facility, Medical School
Matching funds: Medical School, Lillehei Heart Institute, Institute for Engineering in Medicine, Stem Cell Institute, Angela Panoskaltsis-Mortari, Jay Zhang, Biomedical Engineering, Daniel Vallera

Funding will establish a facility for bioprinting and biofabrication that enables new, synergistic, intercollegiate research partnerships. Bioprinting is an automated and versatile platform technology used to create 3D tissue constructs composed of living cells and/or biological substances. A dedicated scientist will operate and maintain the facility and assist with all tissue construction experiments for investigators. It will be located in room 269 DVCRC/KE, and will offer extrusion as well as state-of-the-art laser-assisted bioprinting.

This facility will open new avenues of investigation for all researchers interested in regenerative medicine, cell therapies, bioengineering, surgery, disease modeling, drug screening, medical devices and computational and mathematical modeling of tissue formation. From the convergence of these disciplines, the emergence of novel findings will reinforce the U’s reputation for cutting-edge science and lead to successful future national funding proposals.

Acquisition of a Modern X-Ray and UV Photoelectron Spectrometer for Materials Analysis

Greg Haugstad, Characterization Facility, College of Science and Engineering (CSE)
Matching funds: CSE, Materials Research Science and Engineering Center, Characterization Facility

Photoelectron spectroscopy is a technique that precisely analyzes the composition and electronic structure of materials to reveal the types of atoms present, atomic composition across a material, the nature of chemical bonding between atoms and electronic band structure for valence electrons. Photoelectron spectroscopy is highly sensitive to the near-surface portion of materials, making it an essential tool for characterizing ultrathin films and nanoscale objects, along with new two-dimensional materials such as graphene and silicene. The technology also aids in understanding technological issues, such as improving the way biomolecules and cells adhere to the surface of biomedical devices.

This tool will benefit research not only in the traditional technological disciplines, but in many biomedical fields and in the environmental and atmospheric sciences. It will replace 30-year-old technology, radically improving lateral spatial resolution, energy resolution, sensitivity and angle-resolved measurements. It also adds UV excitation and the ability to examine valence electron states.

Anthropology Department Collections Stewardship

Matt Edling, Department of Anthropology, College of Liberal Arts (CLA)
Matching funds: CLA, Department of Anthropology

Funding will upgrade the collections storage infrastructure located within the Evolutionary Anthropology Laboratories. The Department of Anthropology holds important archaeological, comparative skeletal and primatological collections that are used in a diverse array of research projects. Upgrading the collections storage infrastructure will help safeguard the collections from potential threats and will ensure that these they will be available for future generations of researchers to use.

Broadening the Base: Next-Gen Library Creation Tools

Kenneth Beckman, University of Minnesota Genomics Center (UMGC)
Matching funds: UMGC

Over the past five years, next-generation sequencing (NGS) has grown to occupy over 75 percent of the University of Minnesota Genomics Center’s efforts. During this time, the UMGC has focused on acquiring and implementing DNA sequencers. While DNA sequencers continue to improve, some of the most exciting recent innovations have been in sophisticated tools for preparing the sample “libraries” that are put into sequencing instruments.

Through this funding, the UMGC will acquire a number of library creation devices and provide pilot projects for investigators, including: Illumina NeoPrep, an innovative robot that uses a sealed microfluidic “card” to miniaturize and radically transform library creation; 10X Genomics GemCode, which uses a process of “emulsion” droplets to partition a sample into millions of individual reactions; and Sage Science ELF and Pippin HT, which use electrophoresis to precisely excise DNA molecules from agarose gels and support "long-read” sequencing technologies.

Building an Autism Spectrum Disorders Registry: A Unique Partnership Opportunity Between the University of Minnesota and the State of Minnesota

Frank Symons, Institute for Community Integration, College of Education and Human Development (CEHD)
Matching funds: CEHD, Department of Pediatrics, Academic Health Center

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a lifelong chronic neurodevelopmental disorder with a profound health and educational burden and associated costs. A public health surveillance system and registry for ASD will allow the U, in partnership with the state of Minnesota, to assess the occurrence of ASD and provide data to inform an evidence-based public health response, with the goal of earlier diagnosis to increase intervention impact, improve outcomes and decrease costs. The surveillance and registry system will also help the U recruit and retain world-class scholarly and clinical talent and increase its national impact in ASD research.

The registry will leverage five domains: estimating prevalence and monitoring trends in ASD; assuring children who have ASD and their families are linked to appropriate health care and related services; informing policy and program decisions; addressing concerns about ASD in communities and educating citizens and professionals about ASD; and supporting health services and etiologic research.

Building on Success: Expanding the MSP

Andrew Oxenham, Multi-Sensory Perception Lab, CLA
Matching funds: Center for Applied and Translational Sensory Science, CLA, CEHD, Department of Psychology, Department of Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences, Dr. Legge’s faculty non-sponsored research account, Andrew Oxenham’s McKnight Professorship account

The UMN has an exceptional concentration of world-class researchers in many areas of human perception and action spanning several colleges, departments and centers. The Multi-Sensory Perception (MSP) Laboratory has provided shared research facilities for perception research across the university. This new award will provide the resources for a much-needed expansion of the facilities, with an emphasis on making the testing environment more suitable for clinical and translational sensory research. The expanded MSP will provide the core on-site research facilities for the newly founded Center for Applied and Translational Sensory Science.

Directly Combined Gas Chromatograph-Quadrupole Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometer For Accurate Mass GC/MS Measurements

Joe Dalluge, Department of Chemistry Mass Spectrometer Laboratory, CSE
Matching funds: Stem Cell Institute, Department of Surgery, Department of Veterinary Population Medicine, Center for Sustainable Polymers, Department of Chemistry, CSE

Funding will provide a directly combined gas chromatograph-quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometer for accurate mass GC/MS and GC/MS/MS measurements. This instrumentation will replace a GC/magnetic sector mass spectrometer that experienced an irreparable failure in 2014, and will significantly expand the university’s capabilities in characterizing a wide range of chemical species, from small molecules and metabolites to synthetic polymers. In addition to providing routine analysis capabilities to users spanning multiple departments and colleges, it will also cater to the needs of externally funded principal investigators from across departments, colleges, centers and institutes who need high levels of resolution, speed, sensitivity and mass accuracy GC/MS analysis.

As such, this instrument will foster interdisciplinary and intercollegiate collaboration that opens up new approaches to research that promise to advance our understanding of the chemical mechanisms of disease, accelerate development of next-generation polymeric materials and lead the way to accelerate the design, synthesis and characterization of new compounds and materials.

High-Throughput Single Cell Isolation by Fluorescence-Activated Cell Sorting

Sebastian Behrens, Department of Civil, Environmental and Geo-Engineering, CSE/BioTechnology Institute (BTI)
Co-Investigators: Satoshi Ishii and Mike Sadowsky, Department of Soil, Water & Climate, Biotechnology Institute/College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS); Raymond Hozalski, Timothy LaPara and Joseph Labuz, Department of Civil, Environmental and Geo-Engineering, BTI/CSE; Michael Smanski, Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology & Biophysics, BTI/College of Biological Sciences (CBS); Will Harcombe, Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, BTI/CBS; Jeffrey Gralnick and Daniel Bond, Department of Microbiology, Medical School
Matching Funds: MnDRIVE; BTI; CSE; Department of Civil, Environmental and Geo-Engineering

Funding will acquire a cell sorter for the BioTechnology Resource Center for high-throughput microbial cell isolation using fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS). Microbial cells can be identified and recovered by FACS based on cell properties and light scatter signals. The new flow cytometry platform will have three lasers and small particle detection for optimized detection and sorting of bacterial and archaeal cells. Individual microbial cells or populations of cells that other microbiological techniques cannot isolate or cultivate can now be sorted from a broad range of microbial samples, including environmental samples like wastewater and drinking water. The new cell sorter will also have an exchangeable fluidics system so researchers can replace the complete fluidics path between sample runs, preventing cross-contamination between users.

These unique properties distinguish the new cell sorter from other flow sorters on campus and make this instrument particularly suited for advanced applications in applied and environmental microbiology.

Hydraulic Power Supply for the Mechanical Testing of Resilient and Sustainable Structures, Pavements, Geomaterials, and Medical Devices

Carol Shield, Department of Civil, Environmental and Geo-Engineering, CSE
Matching funds: CSE; Department of Civil, Environmental and Geo-Engineering; Center for Transportation Studies

Funding will acquire a 150 gallons-per-minute hydraulic power supply (HPS) to replace the existing, outdated HPS in the Civil Engineering Building. The HPS is the workhorse for mechanically testing systems related to bridges, pavements, geotechnics, mining and even medical devices. Mechanical testing measures the strength and stiffness of structures, materials and components, information needed to evaluate and improve functionality. A significant portion of the U’s mechanical testing has supported local and state agencies like the Minnesota Department of Transportation, and U researchers use the HPS to investigate efficient building concepts.

The Civil Engineering Building’s facilities are unique in Minnesota, and the new HPS is needed to continue this important work. The system will be energy-efficient, using 15 percent less electrical power, and environmentally friendly, using less cooling water. It will ensure the university can continue to conduct sustainable transportation and building research and support mechanical testing of rock and other geomaterials.

Motion Imaging Data Acquisition for Musculoskeletal Mechanistic, Diagnostic and Guided Treatment Research

Paula Ludewig, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Medical School
Co-Investigators: Arin Ellingson and Jonathan Braman, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, School of Medicine
Matching funds: Physical Therapy Program, Faculty Start-up Funds, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Research Funds, Minnesota Partnership Grant

Funding will significantly advance the infrastructure for motion imaging of the musculoskeletal system. Coupled with a recent Minnesota Partnership grant, the award will advance research capabilities to allow for high-speed, biplanar, 3D imaging. The enhanced system will have larger field-of-view imaging, support structure capable of alignment for imaging all joints from the cervical spine to the foot, installing the expanded system, and using specialized technical expertise to develop protocols and self-guided application materials for other potential shared users. The possible range of musculoskeletal applications encompasses nearly all bone and joint structures where pathology or dysfunction occurs.

There is a great need for highly accurate human motion imaging techniques for health and physical performance research. Enhancing this infrastructure will allow for intra- and inter-institutional grant proposals for cutting-edge musculoskeletal research, and will position this biotechnology partnership as a world leader in musculoskeletal motion imaging research and translation.

MRI Field Camera Acquisition System

Kamil Ugurbil, Center for Magnetic Resonance Research (CMRR)
Matching funds: CMRR, Ugurbil Retention Commitment

Center for Magnetic Resonance Research will acquire a field camera acquisition system that provides the necessary hardware and software for improved image reconstruction and scanner calibration capabilities. CMRR investigators will be able to exploit the data collected by this instrument to develop and incorporate improvements in image acquisition and reconstruction for core techniques like functional brain imaging (fMRI) and diffusion-weighted imaging for anatomical connectivity (dMRI). These techniques are used by a large community of UMN investigators from multiple schools and departments to study the human brain in health and disease.

Rarig Proscenium Theater Dimming System

Marcus Dilliard, Rarig Center
Co-Investigators: Martin Gwinup, Department of Theatre Arts and Dance, CLA; David Blank, Department of Chemistry, CSE
Matching funds: Department of Theatre Arts and Dance, Department of Chemistry

Funding will replace the current stage lighting control system, a vital first step in restoring a vibrant, fully functioning proscenium theater — one that useful to faculty and staff researchers in the Department of Theatre Arts and Dance along with those in other departments and colleges. This cross-college collaboration is an important research initiative for Theatre Arts and Dance faculty as well as candidates of the MFA program in Design and Technology. A technologically healthy Whiting Proscenium Theater will support a wide variety of interdisciplinary projects and collaborations.

One example of such a collaboration is the partnership between the Department of Theatre Arts and Dance, the Department of Chemistry, and the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science to present “Energy and U” in Rarig Center, which has developed into a semi-annual event to get elementary students excited about science and engineering.

A Replacement MALDI-TOF Mass Spectrometer to Support Interdisciplinary Biomolecular Research

Tim Griffin, Center for Mass Spectrometry and Proteomics, CBS
Matching funds: CBS; Allied Health Center/Medical School; CFANS; Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biophysics

Funding provides a replacement matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight (MALDI-TOF) mass spectrometer for use in the Center for Mass Spectrometry and Proteomics (CMSP), an all-campus facility serving the needs of hundreds of biological researchers at the U. This instrument, which replaces a MALDI-TOF instrument that was obtained in 1998 and is no longer operational, will provide improved performance, including better mass resolution and mass accuracy, as well as new capabilities for mass imaging. The new instrument offers simple and rapid mass measurements of a variety of biomolecules (e.g. proteins, lipids, carbohydrates), complementing the suite of other instruments available in the CMSP.

The MALDI-TOF instrument will serve as a valuable tool in supporting numerous research projects. It will also be useful in training activities in biological mass spectrometry that the CMSP offers undergraduates, graduate students and postdocs.