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Seed Program Between UMB and UMCP Is Growing Into a Great Success

Friday, July 12, 2013

 Dean Reece challenged the grant recipients to reach for bigger sources of funding for their research.

A reception was held on July 11, 2013 at the BioPark to recognize this year’s recipients of Seed Grants from the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) and the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP).
The intent of the Research Seed Program is to: 1) foster teams of investigators crossing disciplinary boundaries and campuses; 2) establish research foci capable of resulting in preliminary data relevant to future public health improvements and potential commercialization; and, 3) ultimately submit research proposals to the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, or other federal or private funding agencies. The program is also intended to foster collaborations between junior and senior investigators in order to provide mentorship for new investigators in the art of grant writing and research. The maximum per grant award is $75,000.

This year, all seed grant recipients from UMB were faculty at the School of Medicine. The winning projects were:

  • Mechanisms Leading to Osteoporosis in Patients with Lysosomal Dysfunction Due to Genetic Alterations in Osteoblast and Osteoclast Glucocerebrosidase - Ricardo Feldman, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Microbiology & Immunology  (UMB), and Norma Andrews, PhD, Professor and Chair, Department of Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics (UMCP)
  • The Role of Early Brain Circuits in Autism - Bruce Krueger, PhD, Professor, Department of Physiology (UMB), and Patrick Kanold, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Biology (UMCP)
  • Touch-Free Manipulation of Live Cancer Cells to Observe their Tumor-Formation and Drug Response Behavior - Stuart Martin, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Physiology (UMB), and Benjamin Shapiro, PhD, Professor, Fischell Department of Bioengineering, Institute for Systems Research, A. James Clark School of Engineering (UMCP)
  • Maternal-Infant Immunization for Protection against B. Pertussis - Marcela Pasetti, PhD, Professor, Department of Pediatrics (UMB), and Xiaoping Zhu, DVM, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Veterinary Medicine (UMCP)
  • A Robotic Grasping and Vision (GraspVis) System for Stroke Rehabilitation - Kelly Westlake, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences (UMB), and Jaydev Desai, PhD, Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, and Director of the Robotics, Automation and Medical Systems (RAMS) Laboratory (UMCP)
  • Ambient Air Pollution and Metabolic Syndrome in the Lancaster County Amish - Braxton Mitchell, PhD, Professor, Department of Medicine (UMB), and Robin Puett, PhD, Assistant Professor, Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health (UMCP)
  • Development of a Novel Animal Model for Human Preeclampsia - Loren Thompson, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences (UMB), and Bhanu Telugu, PhD, BVS, Assistant Professor, Department of Animal and Avian Sciences (UMCP)

Now part of the MPowering the State Initiative, the Research Seed Grant Program began six years ago. “It was an experiment,” admitted E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, Vice President for Medical Affairs at the University of Maryland and the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor and Dean of the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “We thought it would be a good idea to engage colleagues from UMB and College Park in collaborative scientific relationships. This has involved into a very robust scientific endeavor.”

In fact, many of the collaborations have continued on even after their initial seed funding was exhausted. “We have been successful in securing substantial funding from federal sources,” said Dean Reece. “The program also continues to foster relationships between our two campuses and between senior and junior investigators.”

However, the program has yet to result in funding for major initiatives, such as Program or Center grants. “Therefore, I wish to congratulate you but also challenge you, to redouble your efforts and focus your energy on taking us to the next level of scientific excellence by securing one or more project, program or center grants, or the equivalent,” said Dean Reece to the grant recipients.
With the quality of work the Seed Program has produced, meeting this challenge should only be a matter of time. Before the reception for this year’s awardees, last year’s grant recipients presented the results of their projects, which included innovative research on breast cancer, nuclear imaging, antiviral drug development, hemorrhage control, liver disease and HIV inhibitors.
“There is no question that your science is making a difference to the welfare of our state,” said Jay Perman, MD, President of the University of Maryland, Baltimore, to the past and present grant recipients. “Biomedical science is integral to the reputations of our two institutions. These collaborations are also important to the economy of the state. The biggest difference your science makes, though, is in how we are going to maintain health and treat disease. As you know, I still have the privilege of treating patients. When I look at the difference between what I could do for children then (when this program started) and the ways I can help them now – that is because of the powerful science all of you have been doing.”

John Fisher, PhD, Professor and Associate Chair, Fischell Department of Bioengineering (UMCP) and Richard Pierson III, MD, Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Interim Director for Research Affairs at the School of Medicine (UMB), are co-chairs of the Seed Grant Committee and served as Masters of Ceremony for the event. Along with President Perman and Dean Reece, other honored guests included William E. Kirwan, PhD, Chancellor, University System of Maryland; Wallace D. Loh, JD, PhD, President, UMCP; Bruce Jarrell, MD, Senior Vice President and Chief Academic & Research Officer, UMB; and Mary Ann Rankin, PhD, Senior Vice President and Provost, UMCP.

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 Grant recipients from 2012 and 2013 gathered for a photo.

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