Annette Hacker, director,
Office: (515) 294-4777
Michael Wannemuehler, Veterinary Microbiology and Preventive Medicine, (515) 294-3270, firstname.lastname@example.org
John Brighton, Vice President for Research and Economic Development, (515) 294-6344, email@example.com
Mike Krapfl, News Service, (515) 294-4917, firstname.lastname@example.org
Iowa State awards $1 million for research promoting Iowa economic development
AMES, Iowa -- Iowa State University researchers will use $1 million in state economic development dollars to research and develop new technologies that could create or boost Iowa businesses.
The grants will support Iowa State researchers as they develop new single-dose vaccines for humans, study ways to boost ethanol production and sustainability, commercialize 3-D software that helps doctors plan and train for surgery, use laser-based sensors to improve the combustion of alternative fuels, see if a co-product of cellulosic ethanol production can stabilize soil beneath highways and advance five other projects with commercial potential.
"This state funding is helping to move Iowa State University research from the laboratory into the marketplace," said John Brighton, Iowa State's vice president for research and economic development. "The Grow Iowa Values Fund has helped several university researchers develop technologies and establish startup companies. And it has helped Iowa State make progress toward its goal of encouraging university researchers to be entrepreneurs."
In 2005 Iowa lawmakers agreed to appropriate $5 million per year for 10 years to support research projects at Iowa's Regent universities. The money is to be matched by the universities. And the research is to focus on projects with high potential to boost the state's economic development efforts.
This is the third time Iowa State has awarded the competitive grants. The grants in this round of awards total $1,000,050 and range from $150,444 to $18,954.
The largest grant in this round goes to a research team led by Michael Wannemuehler, a professor of veterinary microbiology and preventive medicine. He'll work with Chris Minion, a professor of veterinary microbiology and preventive medicine, and Balaji Narasimhan, a professor of chemical and biological engineering, to develop a protective vaccine against pneumonic plague.
Their research combines two new technologies: the modification of sugars to boost the immune response caused by certain proteins and the use of biodegradable polymer nanospheres to deliver vaccines.
A key advantage of the combination would be a vaccine that only requires a single dose to be effective.
Wannemuehler said the research will focus on a vaccine for pneumonic plague because the infectious agent could be a weapon used by bioterrorists. He said the disease is easy to use as a weapon, can be made resistant to antibiotics and can significantly affect susceptible populations. The research team's vaccine technology could also be applied to anthrax, influenza, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and can be extended to all age groups, including infant vaccines.
All that would add up to good news for public health.
"If we can immunize against viral pathogens so there's a good immune response, we may be better able to control diseases such as avian influenza and SARS," Wannemuehler said.
The other awards in this round of Iowa State's competition for Grow Iowa Values Fund grants are:
State economic development grants will support 10 Iowa State research projects that could lead to startup companies or develop technology for existing businesses. The projects include developing human and livestock vaccines, researching techniques to boost ethanol production, commercializing 3-D software tools that improve surgical procedures, studying the combustion of alternative fuels and examining new uses for the co-products of ethanol production.
"This state funding is helping to move Iowa State University research from the laboratory into the marketplace. The Grow Iowa Values Fund has helped several university researchers develop technologies and establish startup companies. And it has helped Iowa State make progress toward its goal of encouraging university researchers to be entrepreneurs."
John Brighton, Iowa State's vice president for research and economic development