Faculty Pilot Projects

Fort Lewis College

 
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Principal Investigator: Blake, David
Title: Synthesis and Biological Evaluation of Drug Candidates to treat Leishmaniasis
Abstract: A systematic and deliberate effort to determine structure-activity relationships between differentially substituted diarylmethane molecules and the resultant inhibition of the growth of the parasite Leishmania donovani is invaluable. Treatments for leishmaniasis, a debilitating and neglected tropical disease caused by these protozoan parasites, are highly toxic, not well tolerated by patients, and are increasingly ineffective due to drug resistant strains. Intensive work to identify small molecules with a high potency against the parasite that causes leishmaniasis with minimal toxicity to patients is urgently needed. Our hypothesis is guided by recent work that identified a diarylmethane metabolite from the fungus Geosmithia langdonii.
Dates of Award: 07/01/20-6/30/22
Institution: Fort Lewis College
Email: blake_d@fortlewis.edu
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Principal Investigator: Leahy, Patrick
Title: Development of a Quality of Motion-Optimized Cerviccal Intervertrbral Replacement Disc
Abstract: Total disc replacement within the spine has shown promise for allowing persons with disc ailments to live improved lives, but the prosthetic discs are still imperfect, leading to gradual degeneration of natural tissues near the implant site. This study will determine which characteristics should be incorporated into prosthetic discs to best maintain health, and then develop and test a prototype.
Dates of Award: 07/01/20-6/30/22
Institution: Fort Lewis College
Email: pdleahy@fortlewis.edu
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Principal Investigator: McFarlane, Jeffrey
Title: Characterization of polyamine biosynthetic enzymes from human gut microbes associated with colon and pancreatic cancer
Abstract: The human gut microbiome has been termed “the forgotten organ” due to its diverse and largely unstudied metabolism. From this rich genetic landscape, gut microbes encode an array of exclusive and interdependent processes. The products of these microbial pathways are in direct contact with human cells, often crossing the epithelial lining of the intestine. This proposal focuses on a gut microbe product called polyamines which are associated with human colon cancer progression. We hope that a better understanding of gut microbe polyamine biosynthesis will lead to new treatments for cancer patients.
Dates of Award: 07/01/20-6/30/22
Institution: Fort Lewis College
Email: jsmcfarlane@fortlewis.edu
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Principal Investigator: Morris, Aimee
Title: Synthesis and Characterization of Cobalt(IIi) Complexes with Monodentate N-Heterocyclic Ligands as Potential Anti-Cancer Prodrugs
Abstract: Numerous therapies for the treatment of cancer have been explored with increasing evidence that the use of metal-containing compounds could prove advantageous as anti-cancer therapeutics. Proposed is a the synthesis and characterization of a new family of cobalt(III) complexes with labile, biomimetic ligands and exploration of their potential in anti-cancer prodrug applications.
Dates of Award: 07/01/20-6/30/22
Institution: Fort Lewis College
Email: ammorris@fortlewis.edu
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Principal Investigator: Lowell, Jennifer
Title: Characterizing antimicrobial resistance in the Animas River Watershed using a meagenomic approach
Abstract: Emerging zoonotic infections in humans are often driven by environmental change that alters biodiversity (AMD alters microbial communities), and puts humans in closer proximity to more virulent strains of pathogens (AMR bacteria). Even with a zoonotic origin, these pathogens are often successful in human to human transmission. Furthermore, the methodology proposed here perfectly exemplifies the interdisciplinary nature of One Health and how ecological and biological principles apply to both clinical medicine and public health.
Dates of Award: 07/01/20-6/30/22
Institution: Fort Lewis College
Email: jllowell@fortlewis.edu
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University of Alaska Fairbanks

 
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Principal Investigator: Drown, Devin
Title: Mentored Undergraduates Decoding Pathogens In Permafrost
Abstract: Alaskan communities are at the center of the large and rapid environmental changes occurring because of global change dynamics. The overall goal of this research is to understand the potential risk of soil borne pathogens within arctic and sub-arctic that are particularly vulnerable to permafrost thaw. Soils are a likely reservoir of both human pathogens as well as a source for antibiotic. We will use a combination of DNA sequencing technologies to characterize microbial communities found in permafrost. This project will support a growing capacity for advanced genomics to address many of the issues central to the One Health framework.
Dates of Award: 07/01/20-6/30/22
Institution: University of Alaska Fairbanks
Email: dmdrown@alaska.edu
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Principal Investigator: Badiei, Alireza
Title: Cross talk between hydrogen sulfide and Vitamin D in diabetes
Abstract: Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is a gasotransmitter that regulates several systems including nervous system and endocrine and may have a potential protective role in glucose regulation. T2D increases the risk of cardiovascular and immune-mediated complications. Diabetic patients have low levels of H2S and the exact mechanism of how H2S can affect the disease progress is unknown. H2S facilitates vitamin D induced GLUT4 translocation and glucose uptake. Therefore, H2S can be a potential target in treatment of metabolic disorders.
Dates of Award: 07/01/20-6/30/22
Institution: University of Alaska Fairbanks
Email: abadiei@alaska.edu
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University of Alaska Southeast

 
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Principal Investigator: Meister, Konrad
Title: Ice crystal growth is a significant problem in cell/tissue cryopreservation for transplantation, transfusion and fundamental biomedical research. Organisms inhabiting cold environments and prone to ice recrystallization injuries have evolved elegant biomolecular solutions to enable life to flourish under icy conditions. They produce antifreeze proteins that can adsorb to ice crystals and hinder their growth. In this project we will investigate the mechanisms underlying the positive effects of antifreeze proteins on the cryopreservation of red blood cells. By comparing different antifreeze protein classes we aim to unravel which properties of these extraordinary molecules are correlated to enhanced cryoprotection.
Dates of Award: 07/01/20-6/30/22
Institution: University of Alaska Southeast-Juneau Campus
Email: meister.konrad@gmail.com  
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Diné College

 
 

Principal Investigator: Skaltsas, Demetra
Title: Developing Diné student Biomedical Research Literacy through Bioprospecting of Endophytic Fungal for Potential Bioactive Metabolites on the Navajo Nation
Abstract:In the plant sciences, my main focus is to explore endophyte diversity on Navajo Nation lands and to investigate their association with culturally and medicinally important plants, and what is their correlation with practitioner health.
Dates of Award: 07/01/20-6/30/22
Institution: Diné College 
Email: demetraskaltsas@gmail.com
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Salish Kootenai College

 
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Principal Investigator: Westbroek, Wendy
Title: Gut Microbiome Analysis of Participants in a Healthy Diets Community Engagement Intervention on the Flathead Reservation
Abstract: There are trillions of gut microbiota that reside in the human gut. Although the role of gut microbiota in human health and disease is poorly understood, recent studies have indicated that imbalances in the gut flora are linked to chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, which are health disparities in Indigenous communities. We propose to perform genetic analysis of gut microbiomes of participants in a healthy sustainable diets program. This will provide the foundation for novel insights into the impact of sustainable healthy diets on microbiome signatures and health outcomes in Native American communities.
Dates of Award: 07/01/20-6/30/22
Institution: Salish Kootenai College 
Email: wendy_westbroek@skc.edu
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