From understanding the basic building blocks of life to advancing the latest treatments for patients, more than a thousand projects across the University received federal funding from the National Institutes of Health in 2018, totaling more than $647.8 million.
The highly competitive grants and contracts that go to researchers in our schools of dentistry, medicine, nursing, pharmacy and the Graduate Division are crucial for supporting research across multiple health-science arenas at the University.
一道本不卡免费高清Below are some of the projects across the four professional schools that received the highest amounts of NIH funding in 2018.
一道本不卡免费高清, PhD, an assistant professor of cell and tissue biology in the School of Dentistry. “Now we have the tools to measure RNA in new ways, which enables us to understand how the RNA vary, why it matters, and how it changes between normal and diseased cells.”
一道本不卡免费高清Floor’s laboratory is using an innovative technique called long read sequencing that analyzes an entire strand of RNA instead of breaking it up into small chunks. The technology allows his team to study how the RNA behave and how they result in distinct types and amounts of proteins. He is particularly interested in changes to the regulatory stretches of RNA that give instructions about how much of a protein the cell should make.
一道本不卡免费高清One example of how biology uses these RNA variations is during development to dictate what type of adult cell a stem cell should turn into. A stem cell maturing into a neuron starts to produce RNA with longer regulatory sequences, which provide instructions about how the protein should be made. By the end of the process, the neuron's RNA can be up to 20 times longer than the stem cell's RNA, but they still come from the same gene and produce the same protein.
Floor said, “This is a hidden layer of regulation that we can now expose.”
一道本不卡免费高清, MD, professor of radiology in the School of Medicine, is bringing them online. They are translating two widely used in-clinic tests for cognitive decline to electronic versions that can be taken at home.
The Clinical Dementia Rating (CDR) is an effective but labor-intensive screening tool that requires a clinician to interview not only the participant, but also a “study partner” – a close friend of family member – who can describe changes in the subject’s behavior.
“The powerful thing about the CDR approach is you can rely heavily on the study partner, who may be able to help us identify people who are at risk,” said , PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry, who is developing the online CDR.
The challenge is translating open-ended interview questions into a streamlined, multiple-choice test that can be graded automatically, said Nosheny. She is working with John Morris, MD, a neurologist at Washington University in St. Louis who originated the CDR in the 1990s, other physicians and statisticians.
一道本不卡免费高清The other screening tool is known as the Financial Capacity Instrument (FCI), and measures a person’s thinking through basic financial tasks: how many quarters are in $6.75, or where to sign on a check, for example. , PhD, associate professor of psychiatry, is leading the effort to create an online FCI. He is collaborating with Daniel Marson, JD, PhD, creator of the FCI, and Erik Roberson, MD, PhD, both at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
After developing the online tests, the researchers hope to validate them with a four-year-long study of 520 participants, who will take both the in-clinic and online versions of the tests.
“The major goal is to demonstrate that the online versions will be comparable to the clinical versions in terms of diagnostic performance,” said Weiner.
The online tests will aid not only dementia research efforts, said Weiner, but will be essential once treatments become reality. “Someday we’re going to have effective treatments,” he said. “How are we going to determine who is in need of those treatments?”
, RN, PhD, FAAN.
“We were quite surprised that about 40 percent of all patients who got these neurotoxic drugs reported hearing loss and/or tinnitus,” said Miaskowski, a professor in the School of Nursing. “There are reports of hearing loss in children and people treated for head and neck cancer, but there are virtually no reports of this type of toxicity in the other cancers. It’s not on oncologists’ radar to ask patients about hearing impairment, so the problem has gone undetected.”
Miaskowski’s team plans to bring the 600 patients back to do a detailed characterization of the types of hearing impairment they experience, how they relate to other neurotoxic side effects, and if they affect mood or cognitive function. Hearing loss has been linked to higher rates of depression and dementia in elderly people. Fortunately, the hearing damage appears to be treatable with hearing aids, which would go a long way toward improving survivors’ quality of life.
The scientists are also working to discover how the chemotherapy drugs cause the neurotoxic effects. They think that changes in gene expression and gene interactions damage the auditory nerve cells. By identifying the pathways that are most vulnerable to the drugs, researchers and clinicians could potentially intervene to prevent the neurotoxicity or better tailor cancer treatments to minimize the risk of side effects.
一道本不卡免费高清, PhD, professor in the Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences in the School of Pharmacy. “But for regulatory elements, we still don’t know the language, so it’s hard for us to find them.”
一道本不卡免费高清To decode the hidden language of regulatory elements, Ahituv’s team have been developing technology to study them more efficiently and on a massive scale. They are aiming to characterize over 100,000 regulatory elements and use CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing to study the effect of alterations in some of these elements.
Ahituv’s team, in collaboration with the laboratory of Jay Shendure, PhD, at the University of Washington, have spent years developing massively parallel reporter assays (MPRA) that can test thousands of elements in one experiment. An initial innovation was to use a “barcode” system一道本不卡免费高清. Unlike commonly used fluorescent tags, limited to a few colors, the barcode system provides the ability to have “thousands of colors” and can precisely identify each sequence among thousands.
一道本不卡免费高清Another innovation, led by , PhD, an assistant researcher in the Ahituv lab, is a new lentivirus-based MPRA, which allows researchers to study DNA elements in a genomic context. While previous MPRAs used plasmids, which exist outside genomes, Inoue developed a lentivirus-based approach that integrates the barcode system into the genome, revealing a more complete and accurate picture of a DNA element’s function.
The new MPRA can currently test over 170,000 DNA elements in a single experiment, said Inoue. Moreover, with the addition of CRISPR genome editing, researchers can observe how mutations in an element change its function, like flipping a switch to see what it does. The team is initially focusing on liver cells but, armed with their new technology, plans to expand into many other cell types.