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Posted 6.21.05

Seventeen Case Western Reserve University researchers representing four of the university's schools and colleges have been awarded $960,000 to fund research projects, under a program designed to promote interdisciplinary research.

 The Presidential Research Initiative (PRI) grant program recently made grants of $80,000 to each of eight research studies. The PRI grants were matched by grants of $40,000 from the four schools in which the faculty members work, for a total of $120,000 per study.

 "We were extremely happy with the diversity and quality of the proposals the researchers submitted for funding," said Eric Cottington, associate vice president for research. "The program is designed to encourage researchers from different disciplines to collaborate, and it is attaining that goal."

Researchers and the proposals for which they received funding are:

  • Harihara Baskaran, assistant professor in the department of biomedical engineering in the Case School of Engineering; and Tom Egelhoff, associate professor in the department of physiology and biophysics in the Case School of Medicine, to study how human breast cancer cells migrate from the primary tumor to new locations in the body (metastasis). The studies are designed to provide a foundation for identifying new targets for anti-cancer chemotherapy.

  • Cheri Deng, assistant professor  in the department of biomedical engineering, and Agata Exner, assistant professor of radiology and biomedical engineering, for developing an ultrasound-mediated method for targeted delivery of drugs to cells for cancer treatment and other applications

  • James Van Orman, assistant professor  in the department of geological sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences, and Dan Lacks, professor in the department of chemical engineering in the School of Engineering, for investigating the influence of volatile components such as water and carbon dioxide on the physical properties of magmas.

  • Andrew Rollins, assistant professor in the departments of medicine in the School of Medicine and the department of biomedical engineering, and Michiko Watanabe, associate professor of pediatrics, for a project to develop techniques for imaging hearts in the embryo stage, with the ultimate goal of treating congenital heart defects in the embryonic stage

  • Jie Shan, assistant professor in the department of physics in the College of Arts and Sciences, and Matthias Buck, assistant professor in the department of biophysics and physiology, for an experimental project using terahertz spectroscopy to probe proteins in varying states. Results of the study will help determine whether terahertz spectroscopy can be used to detect cancer and other diseased cells in human tissue.

  • Melissa Knothe Tate, associate professor in the departments of biomedical engineering and mechanical and aerospace engineering, and Radhika Atit, assistant professor in the department of biology in the College of Arts and Sciences, for an examination of how mechanical stress is processed in a cell to direct the fate of the cell. The knowledge will help prevent and treat skeletal defects during an embryo’s development and to accelerate fracture repair after birth.

  • Mark Votruba, assistant professor in the department of economics in the Weatherhead School of Management; James Rebitzer, professor and chair of the economics department; and Randall Cebul, professor of medicine and epidemiology and biostatistics, to investigate the rate of turnover in membership of insurance plans.

  • Xin Yu, associate professor of biomedical engineering, and Kevin Bunting, associate professor of medicine, to develop stem cell therapy and delivery methods for treating heart damage in mice, and to develop magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques for evaluating the efficiency of stem cell therapy in small animals. 


 The PRI funds are distributed through the office of the president and provost using a research challenge grant from the Ohio Board of Regents, and from proceeds the university receives from commercializing intellectual property.

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