Research initiatives score Dunn Awards

Rice Nov 30, 2018

Four teams of scientists at Rice University and other Gulf Coast Consortia (GCC) institutions have earned research seed grants from the John S. Dunn Collaborative Research Awards. This year’s winning teams will use the grants to studyantibiotic resistance, microbiome influence on developing organisms, light control of epigenetic factors involved in disease and sound-based virtual reality to enhance learning and memory.

The winners were chosen from among 21 pre-proposals. Nine of those teams were invited to submit full proposals.

The annual program that began in 2008 supports new collaborations among researchers associated with Rice’s BioScience Research Collaborative (BRC) and their partners at other institutional members of the GCC. The program is funded by the John S. Dunn Foundation and administered by the GCC.

The Dunn Foundation is a longtime supporter of collaborative research through the GCC, which builds interdisciplinary research teams and training programs in the biomedical sciences that involve the computational, chemical, mathematical and physical sciences. GCC member institutions include Rice, Baylor College of Medicine, the University of Houston, the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth), the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB), the Institute of Biosciences and Technology of the Texas A&M Health Science Center (IBT) and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Three research seed grants for $98,000 and one for $62,345 were awarded to the following winners:

Caleb Kemere of Rice and Matthew McGinley of Baylor are developing a platform for neuroscience experiments in which mice navigate a virtual reality environment using acoustic “landmarks.” They hope to better link the mechanisms that integrate audio information with the brain’s broader cognitive maps, and in the process improve technologies like cochlear implants and develop better methods to measure large numbers of cortical and hippocampal neurons. Kemere is an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering. McGinley is an assistant professor of neuroscience.