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Research Alert

Research Prizes and Honors

[Have you or a colleague won a research-related prize or honor? Let the Research Alert know.]

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Research Prizes and Honors

[Have you or a colleague won a research-related prize or honor? Let the Research Alert know.]


The Hogg Foundation for Mental Health has awarded the 2008 Harry E. and Bernice M. Moore Fellowship to doctoral candidate Neely Mahapatra for her research on the effects of domestic violence on women of South Asian origin.

Mahapatra is a student in the School of Social Work at The University of Texas at Austin. She is researching the life experiences of women of South Asian origin who experience domestic violence in the United States. She is examining their behavior patterns in seeking help from formal agencies and informal networks during crisis. She also is identifying socio-cultural factors that promote or inhibit women in seeking help while in crisis.

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News and Information


A conference titled “What Principal Investigators and Institutional Biosafety Committees Need to Know about Today’s Biosafety Issues” will be held May 14, 2008, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Avaya Auditorium (Room 2.302) in the ACES building.

It is aimed at principal investigators, research compliance officers, institutional officials, members of committees dealing with biosafety issues and biosafety officers.

Registration is $75 per person with special rates for University of Texas at Austin PI’s. Registration includes lunch, snacks, and program materials. [Contact Ms. Nancy Salemi for more information regarding conference cost and payment.]

Topics include: Select Agents and the “Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical, Laboratories (BMBL), 5th Edition“; Occupational health in a research setting; Transparency and Intellectual Property; Multi-site research obligations; and more. A lunchtime talk will be given by Ed Hammond of The Sunshine Project.

Register for the conference online.

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QuotedUT Researchers in the News

[A sampling of recent quotes by university faculty members and researchers. To be included in this section, let the Research Alert know when you or a colleague have been quoted.]

New Scientist
March 29, 2008
HEADLINE: Let’s bury coal’s carbon problem; If we could capture carbon dioxide and store it underground we would slow global warming. So why is progress so slow?

The furthest-advanced project [for underground storage of coal-fired power plant CO2 emissions] is a test site at which engineers have injected 1600 tonnes of CO2 into a sandstone formation known as the Upper Frio on the Gulf coast of Texas…An early report on the Frio project, published in the journal Geology by Yousif Kharaka of the US Geological Survey, points to a possible danger of storing CO2 in formations like these. The CO2 has acidified the brine, allowing it to dissolve metal-oxide minerals in the rock, and this, Kharaka says, might eventually create tunnels in the cap rock through which CO2 might escape.

Nick Riley of the British Geological Survey, who collaborated on the Frio project, believes that the danger of a leak occurring this way is slight. He accepts that there was some acidification, and that a small amount of CO2 did escape into the overlying layer of rock, but insists that it poses no problem. Susan Hovorka of The University of Texas at Austin, the project’s principal investigator, agrees. “The CO2 has smeared… until it cannot move much further.” In fact, far from being a problem, the chemical reactions might gradually convert the CO2 into carbonate rock that would keep the carbon locked underground indefinitely.

So far, tests have been small-scale, short-term and largely at sites that geologists judge will perform best. In the real world, Hovorka points out, geologists will be under pressure to find burial sites close to power plants, where the rock formations may be less than perfect. “We know how to recognise an excellent site,” she says. “But we need confidence about when to screen out sites that are too risky.” She also admits there is no method yet for deciding how much CO2 a particular rock formation can absorb before leaking, and how to spot if things are going wrong. A study in the journal Advances in Water Research warns that algorithms modelling the seepage of gas through rock are untested, so the results could prove inaccurate.

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Research Opportunities

Important university research deadlines:
Awards and Grants
Limited Submissions

DOD Peer Reviewed Medical Advanced Technology/Therapeutic Development Award
Deadline: July 2, 2008

Targeted Topic Areas in Safety and Comparative Effectiveness for the Centers for Education and Research on Therapeutics
Deadlines: Letter of Intent, April 10, 2008; Application, May 19, 2008

National Risk Management Research Laboratory – Innovation and Research for Water Infrastructure for the 21st Century
Deadlines: Optional Intent to Apply, April 21, 2008; Application, May 12, 2008

Tumor Stem Cells in Cancer Biology, Prevention, and Therapy
Deadlines: Letter of Intent, June 10, 2008; Application, July 10, 2008

Career Enhancement Award for Stem Cell Research
Deadline: June 12, 2008

Outcomes and Cost-Effectiveness Studies of CAM Using Existing Practice-based Research Networks
Deadline: Nov. 19, 2008

Family Planning Service Delivery Improvement Research
Deadline: Jan. 15, 2010 (closing date)

Virtual Organizations as Sociotechnical Systems
Deadline: June 2, 2008

Communicating Hurricane Information
Deadline: June 3, 2008

Neural Systems
Deadline: July 12, 2008

Social Psychology
Deadline: July 15, 2008

Physics of Living Systems
Deadline: July 31, 2008

Honda Research Institute
2008 Honda Initiation Grant
Pre-Proposal Deadline: April 28, 2008

Autism Speaks
Pre-doctoral and post-doctoral Fellowships
Deadline: May 14, 2008

Autism Speaks
Environmental Sciences
Deadline: June 2, 2008

Greater Texas Foundation
Math and Science Teacher Scholarship Program
Deadline: May 15, 2008

Semiconductor Research Corporation
Cross-disciplinary Semiconductor Research
Deadline: May 16, 2008

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Research Project

[Let the Research Alert know about your research projects.]

Mechanisms of MDMA-Induced Hyperthermia

FACULTY: Edward Mills, assistant professor, College of Pharmacy, principal investigator
AGENCY: National Institutes of Health
AMOUNT: $221,465

The drug Ecstasy (MDMA) is one of the most widely abused drugs in the world and an MDMA overdose can give rise to fatal hyperthermia, a hypermetabolic condition in which the body generates and builds up too much heat. No treatment exists for MDMA hyperthermia.

Our previous work established that the skeletal muscle enriched mitochondrial uncoupling protein 3 mediates MDMA-induced heat production in mice. Work in this proposal aims to determine the anatomic sites of MDMA-induced thermogenesis in animals, and to define the biologic pathways and mechanisms involved. It is expected that this work will provide a rational basis for the development of the first effective hyperthermia medicine able to directly turn off heat production.

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