Monthly Archives: April 2011

Grant of the month: $499,000 to Dr. Ahmedna for further work on peanut anti-allergen process

The Sponsored Funding Report for April:

N.C. A&T received 15 grants totaling $1.87 million in April.  The FY 2011 sponsored funding total stands at $42.11 million as of April 29.

One highlight of the month’s funding was $499,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, to Dr. Mohamed Ahmedna of the Department of Family and Consumer Services. Dr. Ahmedna is the director of the Center of Excellence in Post-Harvest Technologies, the N.C. A&T unit located at the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis.

The project: Post-harvest processing of peanut and wheat products to reduce inherent allergens.

The issue:  Thousands of Americans suffer from food allergies, which cause 150-200 fatalities annually. Young children remain the most affected by food allergies, which have been on the rise for reasons that are not well understood. Peanuts and wheat are economically and nutritionally important crops associated with severe allergies. However, their ubiquitous use by the food industry makes it very hard for allergic individuals to find safe food choices, hence the need to reduce/eliminate allergens in them.

Abstract: We hypothesize that, under the right combination of physico-chemical and enzymatic processing conditions, food allergens can be reduced or inactivated through various mechanisms that target their vulnerabilities as proteins. Preliminary data obtained in our lab provide promising indication of the potential for this approach in peanuts. This proposal seeks to:

  1. Demonstrate the effectiveness of post-harvest processing of peanut and wheat with endopeptidases and physicochemical treatment in reducing the concentrations of target allergens,
  2. Confirm the reduction of allergic potential of treated products in patients through clinical testing, and
  3. Evaluate the sensory acceptability and quality of treated peanut and wheat products.

The most effective processing conditions (as judged by immunoassays) will be used to produce samples for confirmation of reduced allergenicity using basophil activation assays in leukocytes from allergic patients. Processing conditions that lead to minimum histamine release in-vitro will be used to process products for skin prick testing among allergic patients to confirm safety. Subsequently, sensory acceptability and quality of hypoallergenic products will be assessed and used as indicator of their commercial potential.

The complete list of grants received in April (xlsx file)

The best of April on the Aggie Research blog

For anyone looking to catch up with what’s been happening in research at North Carolina A&T over the past month, here’s a recap of the more significant postings on the blog in April:

JSNN a finalist for regional innovation award

The Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoenginering has been named a finalist for the first Przirembel Prize.  The award promotes best practices in open innovation and recognizes collaborations among diverse organizations in the Southeast region.  The other finalists are the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicle program and the Carolinas Nuclear Cluster collaboration.  The prize will be awarded on May 10 at the InnoVenture Southeast 2011 conference in Greenville, SC.  For details: coverage in The Business Journal and the Przirembel Prize website.

P.S. on one of the Best Dissertation winners

FYI … the College of Engineering homepage has a short piece worth reading on Khaliah Hughes, one of the winners of A&T’s inaugural Best Dissertation Awards this year. Among the distinctions she has earned: A&T’s first Claire Booth Luce Doctoral Fellow, youngest A&T engineering Ph.D. ever, 4.0 average, and she has a job waiting at one of the world’s most prestigious software companies.  Her research is also featured in the current issue of Evolution, Page 23.

6 honored for best dissertations, master’s theses

Graduate students in four colleges and schools have been honored for outstanding dissertations and master’s theses.

The awards were given for the first time this year.  They reflect the increasingly important role of graduate education and research at the university.  The awards were presented on a university-wide basis.  Winners were selected by the School of Graduate Studies.

Winners of the Best Dissertation Award, all Ph.D. students who will receive their degrees in May, their fields of study, faculty advisors, and dissertation titles are:

  • Husniyah Abdus-Salaam; industrial engineering; Dr. Lauren Davis, advisor; “Examining the Influence of Dependent Demand Arrivals on Patient Scheduling”;
  • Sylvia Burgess; leadership studies; Dr. Forest Toms, advisor; “Spiritual Capital: The Relationship with Civic Engagement among Faith-Based Leaders”; and
  • Khaliah Hughes; industrial engineering; Dr. Steven Jiang, advisor; “Integration of Cognitive and Physical Factors to Model Human Performance in Fluid Power Systems.”

Winners of the first Best Master’s Thesis Award, all of whom will graduate in May, their fields of study, faculty advisors, and thesis tiles are:

  • John German; physics; Dr. Abdellah Ahmidouch, advisor; “Position Resolution and Efficiency of the Lucite Hodoscope for the SANE Experiment at Jefferson Lab”;
  • Semienawit Ghebrezadik, chemical engineering, Dr. Stephanie Luster-Teasley, “Groundwater Remediation Using Micro and Nano-Sized Zvi and Kmno4 to Treat Trichloroethylene (Tce) Contamination”; and
  • Priscilla Randolph, food and nutritional sciences, Dr. Salim Ibrahim, “Combinational Effects of a Bioactive Nutrient and Radiation on Human-Derived Ewing’s Sarcoma Cells.”

Workshop on presenting data professionally

The NC TraCS Institute, in collaboration with Greensboro AHEC, is co-sponsoring a series of free workshops on research topics. The next one is “Presenting Data Professionally,” which will introduce the basic concepts of presenting data at professional conferences and in professional journals. Presenters will discuss the considerations of presenting data professionally, including guidelines for writing an abstract, and effective presentation strategies. This workshop is not focused on dissemination of data. Instead, this workshop focuses on key components for poster and oral presentations of your data.  The workshop will be held on Monday May 2, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Wesley Long Education Center, 501 North Elam Avenue.  Details and online registration are on the institute website.

Summer food and agriculture research internship

Here’s an opportunity to pass along to students with an interest in environmental and agricultural policy: The WorldWatch Institute in Washington has an internship that involves refining and organizing information for a project on sustainable agricultural innovations.  The position is unpaid; the location is Washington, but the group is open to having the intern work remotely.  Details are in this PDF and at this link.

NSF multi-directorate program announcement: Software Infrastructure for Sustained Innovation

The NSF has announced a major new cyberinfrastructure initiative.  Details are here.  Proposal deadline is July 18. Background:

“Computation is accepted as the third pillar supporting innovation and discovery in science and engineering and is central to NSF’s vision of a Cyberinfrastructure Framework for 21st Century Science and Engineering (CIF21) as described in …

“In order to nurture, accelerate and sustain this critical mode of scientific progress, NSF has established the Software Infrastructure for Sustained Innovation (SI2) program, with the overarching goal of transforming innovations in research and education into sustained software resources that are an integral part of the cyberinfrastructure. SI2 is a long-term investment focused on catalyzing new thinking, paradigms, and practices in developing and using software to understand natural, human, and engineered systems. SI2‘s intent is to foster a pervasive cyberinfrastructure to help researchers address problems of unprecedented scale, complexity, resolution, and accuracy by integrating computation, data, networking, observations and experiments in novel ways. It is NSF’s expectation that SI2 investment will result in robust, reliable, usable and sustainable software infrastructure that is critical to achieving the CIF21 vision and will transform science and engineering while contributing to the education of next generation researchers and creators of future cyberinfrastructure.”

UNC-CH, Yankaskas reach settlement

UNC-CH has settled a case in which it was attempting to fire a faculty member over the the hacking of a cancer research database.  Dr. Bonnie Yankaskas has agreed to retire, and the university has agreed to restore her rank and salary, which were reduced in the wake of the hacking of her project’s database.  The UNC-CH campus newspaper reported this week that the settlement was announced last Friday.  In 2009, it was discovered that the personal information of some 180,000 patients and research subjects had been exposed when a hacker successfully attacked the database of the Carolina Mammography Registry. Yankaskas, as the PI on the project, was held responsible.  She contended that the security of her database wasn’t her responsibility.

New, higher F&A rates to go into effect July 1; PIs should use rate in effect on award date

The university has negotiated new overhead rates (also known as facilities and administration rates, or F&A) with the federal government.  Effective July 1 and running through June 30, 2014, the rates are 42.5 percent for on-campus research, instruction and other sponsored activity, and 26 percent for those activities off campus.

If the solicitation says the award will be made on or after July 1, use the new rate.  For awards to be made before July 1, use the old rate.

If there is no award date specified, use the new rate.  If a proposal is submitted with the new rate and the award comes in before July 1, the university will negotiate with the agency to adjust it to the former rate.

Multi-year awards will continue with the existing rate.  However, if the PI
must submit a proposal for continued funding, that proposal should have the new rate.

The current default rate in RAMSeS is 41 percent.  That will be changed to
42.5 percent, but PIs and the Office of Sponsored Programs have the ability to change the rate, as always.

For questions about the F&A rate, contact Sponsored Programs, 334-7995.