Posted May 1, 2009

Sowing the seeds of success

Seed grants support collaboration, reinforce new Academic Strategic Compass

  • Photo by Stiv Twigg Graduate students Selver Ahmed, Sushma Savarala and Obioma Chikwendu measure thermal phases using a Nano DSC, a scanning calorimeter commonly used in pharmaceutical development. They share their work with Chemistry Professor Stephanie Wunder (left) and Pharmaceutical Sciences Professor Marc Ilies (background), who recently won a seed grant for developing nanoparticles as a delivery vehicle for gene therapy.

In one of many initiatives of the new Academic Strategic Compass, the Office of the Provost recently awarded seed grants to 11 interdisciplinary research projects. The grants will enable 30 scholars from across the university to participate in faculty teams focused on collaborative research, moving Temple toward the goal of “Research Excellence” established in the new five-year plan.

This is the second year that the Provost has awarded seed grants, which total as much as $50,000 each.

“These grants are an important part of our effort to increase sponsored research, capitalize on the unique breadth of disciplines at Temple, promote a climate conducive to excellence in research and creative expression and, by uncovering new knowledge, improve people’s lives,” said Provost Lisa Staiano-Coico.

“The winning projects show our commitment to the points of Temple’s new strategic plan, the Academic Compass.”

To illustrate, one of the 2009 grant winners, “The Center for Community-Based Learning and Collaboration” addresses several Academic Compass points: “Research Excellence,” “Metro-Engagement” and “Opportunities for Success” for students.

“The seed grant will help us develop a center for community-based learning and research, beginning with supporting more courses with a community service learning component,” said English Professor Eli Goldblatt, whose expertise is composition and rhetoric. “Next year hopefully we will hire a director, develop the details of what the center will look like, work on funding and start programs through faculty development.”

Goldblatt’s collaborator, Associate Professor of Education Novella Keith, is an expert in urban university-community partnerships.  Both Goldblatt and Keith have long been dedicated to conducting research on community-based learning and incorporating service learning as part of students’ experience at Temple Main Campus and abroad.

Another winning project headed by Chemistry Professor Stephanie Wunder and Pharmaceutical Sciences Professor Marc Ilies also benefits society while providing “Opportunities for Success” for students, another Academic Compass goal. Wunder and Ilies plan to develop nanoparticles as a delivery vehicle for gene therapy.

“We can train students to work on this project and get preliminary data to find a DNA delivery system more effective than currently available methods of gene therapy,” said Wunder. Through his knowledge of delivery systems, Marc Ilies, Wunder’s research collaborator, will help her apply her research.  The right delivery system for gene therapy could help combat a variety of diseases.

For each of the selected projects, the seed grant is just the first step.  The success of one of last year’s winning projects, which explored the potential protective effect on the spinal cord of cannabinoid derivatives, illustrates how quickly a seed grant can help research evolve.  Since winning last year, School of Medicine professors Ronald Tuma, Doina Ganea and Jack Jallo have won several new grants.

“The seed grant provided support for our lab to get two grants, submit two additional grants and we’re in the process of submitting a third,” said Tuma. 

With results like that, the most recent winners may be in for a productive year.

Projects supported with 2009 Seed Grants:

“Assessing the impact of inductive
versus deductive instruction in high
school Spanish classes”
Paul Toth, CLA
Matthew Wagner, Education

“The Center for Community-Based Learning and Collaboration”
Eli Goldblatt, CLA
Novella Keith, Education

“Determination of Sites of Action of Salvinorin A in Brain by Imaging with Radiolabeled Salvinorin A Analogs”
Linda Knight, Medicine
Lee-Yuan Liu-Chen, Medicine
Alan Maurer, Medicine

“Ecological Assessment of Using the Native Plant Chamaecrista Fasciculata (partridge pea) Within Seeding Mix to Restore Forty Acres of a Meadow Located in Huntingdon Valley, Pa.”
Michael Olszewski, Ambler
Joel Sheffield, CST

“Interdisciplinary Collaboration on Teacher Preparation in Arts Education”
Girija Kaimal, Education
Ellen Linky, Education
Roberta Sloan, SCT

“Novel Gene Delivery Nanosystem Based on Supported Lipid Bilayers”
Marc Ilies, Pharmacy
Stephanie Wunder, CST

“The Relationship Between Periodontitis, Hypertension and Immune/Inflammatory Dysfunction in African Americans”
Ahmed Khocht, Dentistry
Michael Brown, CHP
Paul Lyons, Medicine

“Reliability and Validity of the Y Balance Test in Dancers”
Steve Pettineo, Podiatric Medicine
Tracey Vlahovic, Podiatric Medicine
Keith Fleischman, Medicine

“The Role of Stress Inducible Genes in Preeclampsia – Early Diagnosis and Treatment for Pregnant Patients”
Dan Liebermann, CST
Barbara Hoffman, Medicine
Ossie Geifman-Holtzman, Medicine
John Gaughan, CHP
Debra Nelson, CHP

“Thermal Imaging for Non-Invasive Breast Cancer Diagnosis”
Seong Kong, Engineering
Marvin Ziskin, Medicine

“Training the Developing ADHD brain: Does a lab-informed working memory training intervention translate to real-world benefits in the classroom”
Kim Curby, CLA
Catherine Fiorello, Education
Kenneth Thurman, Education