Seven IU Bloomington faculty receive more than $160K from Johnson Center grant program

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The Johnson Center for Innovation and Translational Research awarded more than $160,000 in grants to seven researchers at Indiana University Bloomington through the Translational Research Pilot Grant program.

The Johnson Center works with faculty and researchers throughout the IU Bloomington campus to identify discoveries that hold commercial potential. Launched in 2015, the Translational Research Pilot Grant program funds the completion of proof-of-concept projects that will support the development of translational research projects with industry partners and the establishment of new companies or strengthen patent applications based on IU Bloomington discoveries.

Keith R. Davis

Keith R. Davis

Keith R. Davis, director of the Johnson Center, said the program has grown in its second year. Five faculty members received $104,230 in 2015.

"The number of projects that received funding increased significantly this year, and we are encouraged by the growth of the program and the fact that we have identified and addressed an unmet need at IU Bloomington," Davis said. "These exceptional researchers are devising solutions that address important challenges that face our country and world."

Submitted projects were based on discoveries that had been disclosed to the Indiana University Research and Technology Corp. Individual project budgets up to $25,000 were considered. The recipients, their project titles and funding amounts are:

  • Cheng Kao, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, College of Arts and Sciences; Dean Rowe-Magnus, Department of Biology, College of Arts and Sciences, "Formulation and Efficacy of Antimicrobial Peptides for Use to Reduce Infections at Surgical Sites," $25,000.

"The goal of this project will be to develop peptides to treat bacterial infections," Kao said. "There is a very significant need now to find antibiotics to replace those that are no longer effective due to widespread resistance to antibiotics."

  • Thomas Sterling, School of Informatics and Computing, "3-D Face Recognition Using the Fast Multipole Method," $25,000.

"The goals for this project are to license the consumer-grade 3-D face-recognition methods and apparatus developed at IU to outside companies while forming a separate company to control the development and distribution of a security-grade version," Sterling said.

  • Michael Wade, Department of Biology, College of Arts and Sciences, "Sustained Controlled Population Collapse," $25,000.

"Our team -- Gabe Zentner, Doug Drury, Dylan Siniard and me -- has developed a safe new method for reducing the population size of crop pests, like the western corn rootworm, and disease-vectoring insects, like the mosquitoes carrying Zika virus," Wade said. "With the Johnson Center award, we will demonstrate proof of concept in laboratory populations and then use that evidence to attract venture capital to our project."

  • Kylie Peppler, School of Education, "Indoor Positioning System," $24,882.

"The team -- Joshua DanishArmin Moczek and me -- created a positioning system similar to GPS that calculates physical distances from a captured wireless signal's round-trip time. It is intended for indoor environments where GPS does not work well," Peppler said. "Our system will be able to track a person's 2-D or 3-D position in real time with excellent updating frequency, while supporting multiple tracking objects in a large area. The software then maps all of the tags' locations onto an animated webpage in real time."

  • Richard Hardy, Department of Biology, College of Arts and Sciences, "Rational Attenuation of Chikungunya Virus for Vaccine Development," $24,401.

"Chikungunya virus is a mosquito-transmitted virus that has caused millions of cases of severe, multi-joint arthritis in recent years. Currently there is no vaccine available," Hardy said. "This project aims to identify ways to weaken the virus such that it is no longer pathogenic but is still able to stimulate a protective immune response in inoculated individuals with the goal of creating an effective vaccine."

  • David Landy, Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, "Graspable Math: A Dynamic Algebra Notation for Classrooms," $23,461.

"We aim to make our dynamic interfaces available to K-12 classrooms by developing a homework-assistance tool and teacher-support interface," Landy said. "This interface will let teachers and schools watch students working with equations in real time, and help students avoid simple mistakes and missteps that distract them. Our current draft code is at graspablemath.com."

  • Jorge V. José, Department of Physics, College of Arts and Sciences, Stark Neuroscience Institute and Cellular & Integrative Physiology, "App Development for Extending the Patent Application for Treatments of Neurological and Learning Disorders," $14,726.

"This project proposes to develop a proof-of-concept (POC) set of apps for smartphones," José said. "By developing these POC smartphone apps, we hope to obtain important information about the cognitive abilities of subjects with neurological and learning disorders, within the context of precision psychiatry. Elizabeth Torres of Rutgers University and I aim to use them as another tool to be used in collaboration with expert medical clinicians."

The Johnson Center for Innovation and Translational Research plans to accept applications for the next round of grants in February, with a submission deadline of April 1, 2017, and recipients funded by June 1, 2017.

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