Seed Proposals Seek to Cultivate New Research Directions

The Beckman Institute recently held an open competition to seed new interdisciplinary research directions in engineering and the physical, social, life, and neurosciences. The competition brought many new ideas to the table and the Beckman Institute is pleased to announce that eight proposals have been selected to receive support for the period May 16, 2010 – May 15, 2012.

The Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology recently held an open competition to seed new interdisciplinary research directions in engineering and the physical, social, life, and neurosciences. The competition brought many new ideas to the table and the Beckman Institute is pleased to announce that eight proposals have been selected to receive support for the period May 16, 2010 – May 15, 2012.

Tamer Başar, Director (interim) for the Beckman Institute, said this competition is very valuable to the Institute’s mission and its evolution into new research directions.

“The Beckman Institute is always looking toward the future,” Başar said. “The funding of seed proposals is an excellent way to help new research directions get underway and to expand or reinvent current lines of research at the Institute. The response to our call was overwhelming, and it was an extremely tough decision to select just a few among many outstanding proposals. Our campus is extremely fortunate to have the caliber of researchers we have, who are at the forefront of scientific and technological innovation and creativity.”

The selected seed proposals cover a wide range of topics that involve 32 researchers from over 10 different departments. Beckman Institute researcher and Psychology professor Kara Federmeier, a primary investigator on one of the selected seed proposals, is collaborating with Beckman Institute Postdoctoral Fellow Joel Voss and two physicians from Carle Hospital Gerontology.

“The Beckman seed grant, along with joint support from a Carle Foundation Research seed grant, is allowing us to collaborate with the Carle geriatrics group, headed by Dr. Suma Peter, in order to take our research on electrophysiological manifestations of memory in a new and exciting direction,” Federmeier said. “In particular, we will be able to monitor, long- term, memory functions of older adults with and without diagnoses of mild cognitive impairment and early Alzheimer's Disease, with the aim of using our emerging basic research findings to try to predict the onset of age-related memory problems and diseases in a more timely and accurate fashion.”

The titles of the selected Beckman Institute seed proposals are as follows:

  • Using Optical Brain Imaging Methods to Investigate Functional Changes in Adult Cochlear Implant Patients (PI: Monica Fabiani)
  • Real-time Measurement of the Nanoparticle Corona in Biological Systems (PI: Catherine Murphy)
  • Genomic Imaging of Breast Cancer (PIs: Stephen Boppart, Benita Katzenellenbogen, Christine Weaver)
  • Electrophysiological Signals to Predict Age-related Cognitive Decline (PI: Kara Federmeier)
  • Ultrahigh Energy and Power Density Batteries (PI: Paul Braun)
  • Multimedia Searching via Cloud Computing (PI: Thomas Huang)
  • Multifunctional Aptamer-lipid Theranostic Anticancer Agents: A Novel Approach in Nanomedicine (PI: Yi Lu)
  • Next Generation Molecular Probes for Massively Multiplexed and Ultrasensitive Imaging (PI: Rohit Bhargava)

The expectation is that the seed proposal research will be conducted at the Beckman Institute and within two years will lead to externally funded programs at the Beckman Institute.