West Virginia EPSCoR research grants beneficial for entire state
The EPSCoR Research Infrastructure Improvement (RII) grants have created sustainable research and tools that have greatly helped West Virginia and its institutions of higher education—including the Shared Research Facility (SRF). the SRF contains instrumentation that has enhanced the ability of West Virginia University (WVU) to hire impressive faculty. The RII program helped provide the SRF’s state-of-the-art instrumentation for research. The facilities include a clean room, a bionano facility, materials characterization lab, electron microscopy, and high performance computing. Many of the RII hires have become CAREER award winners and several patents have been issued to RII participants.
One patented invention by Aaron Timperman of WVU was licensed to a start-up biotech company which is still in business today near WVU. The start-up, Protea Biosciences employs approximately 50 people, all graduates of West Virginia colleges and universities. Protea recently announced that is acquiring vivoPharm PTY Ltd., a global provider of pharmacology, toxicology and bioanalytical research services, with a portfolio of proprietary oncology models.
Another RII hire, Cerasela Dinu, came to WVU in part because of the shared research facility. Dr. Dinu is a CAREER award winner who conducts research over a wide range of disciplines, from molecular biology to materials science and from engineering to fundamental science. She earned her CAREER award for her work to identify technologies capable of increasing the world's energy portfolio while reducing environmental impact.
One area of her research concerns preventing infections in hospital settings. Her research offers a self-sustainable decontamination platform that is safe and easy to apply while reducing logistical burden.
Dr. Dinu’s research in cellular motors for molecular manufacturing capitalizes on a nanomanipulation approach used extensively and without error in virtually every eukaryotic cell. Its successful completion would lay the foundation for future large-scale production of single molecule-based nanoarrays to create hybrid nanostructures by using single molecule “inks” (i.e., kinesin functionalized with carbon nanotubes, quantum dots) all with ultrahigh resolution. Such structures can be used as biosensors, in drug delivery or in nanoelectronics.
She has recently been named associate chair of chemical engineering and will lead the College of Engineering program in biomedical engineering.
Another RII participant, Yong Yang, is also a faculty member in biomedical engineering. He is creating a system that mimics the human brain’s cell function to help unlock clues to curing Alzheimer’s disease. The system is a bridge to a more precise way of studying the formation of amyloid plaques which may trigger Alzheimer’s and other diseases of the brain. Support from the RII helped Dr. Yang to equip his lab and provided support for graduate students. He recently received an NSF grant to support this work.