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UT News

Research Alert

Read the research blog Further Findings.

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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Read the research blog Further Findings.

Research Prizes and Honors

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


Evolutionary biologist Sara Sawyer and neuroscientist Ila Fiete have been named 2009 Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellows.

Sawyer, assistant professor of molecular genetics and microbiology, studies the molecular “fossil record” left by historical viral epidemics in the human genome. The goal of her research is to learn about natural strategies that have been successful at beating viruses in the past, and how these might be exploited in the fight against modern viral attacks.

Through modeling and theoretical analysis, Fiete, assistant professor of neurobiology, studies how large collections of neurons in the brain can give rise to complex behaviors. One of the goals of her research is to uncover the principles of neural organization that allow songbirds to learn how to sing and rodents to navigate in the dark.

The two-year, $50,000 awards are meant to stimulate fundamental research by early-career scientists and scholars of outstanding promise.

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News and Information


A video presentation, “Audits and the Audit Process,” from the National Council of University Research Administrators, will be screened at 9:30 a.m. March 13, 2009, in ACE Room 2.402.

David Dockwiller, assistant director of the awards administration section in the Office of Sponsored Projects, will be available to answer questions. The TxClass registration code is SP201.

The program will discuss the audit process and the differences between audits, reviews, inspections and investigations. It also will look at how auditors approach an audit, and the various institutional roles including that of the institutional audit and compliance officer, the central research administrator, and the departmental research administrator.

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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.]

Los Angeles Times
Feb. 19, 2009
HEADLINE: We already own the banks — shouldn’t we run them?
Fear of ‘nationalization’ is beside the point when it comes to rehabilitating our crippled financial institutions.

[From a column by Michael Hiltzik about the banking crisis.]

“Stuffing the banks with money just enables incumbent management to hang on and enables current holders of bank stocks to pretend they still have value,” James K. Galbraith, an economic policy expert at the University of Texas, told me this week.

Galbraith says the bailed-out banks should be declared insolvent and taken over by the FDIC to be restructured or split up, whichever is best.

Calling this “nationalization” is misleading, the professor says, because what needs to happen isn’t the political act implied by the term, but a regulatory act.

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Research Opportunities

Important university research deadlines:
Awards and Grants
Limited Submissions

Fiscal Year 2009 Measurement Science and Engineering Research Grants Programs (NIST)
Deadlines: Continuing. Applications received after June 1, 2009 may be considered in the current fiscal year or in the next fiscal year, subject to the availability of funds.

Basic Research Challenge (basic science and/or engineering research) Program
Deadlines: White Paper, April 17, 2009; Proposal, June 9, 2009

Heliophysics Guest Investigators
Deadlines: Notice of Intent, March 13, 2009; Proposal, May 8, 2009

Atmospheric Composition: Modeling and Analysis
Deadlines: Notice of Intent, March 16, 2009; Proposal, May 1, 2009

Hurricane Field Experiment
Deadlines: Notice of Intent, March 16, 2009; Proposal, May 14, 2009

Studies with ICESat and CryoSat-2
Deadlines: Notice of Intent, March 16, 2009; Proposal, May 15, 2009

Testing Tobacco Products Promoted to Reduce Harm
Deadline: June 5, 2009

Women’s Mental Health and Sex/Gender Differences Research
Deadline: June 5, 2009

Career Enhancement Award for Stem Cell Research
Deadline: June 12, 2009

Virtual Organizations as Sociotechnical Systems
Deadline: May 26, 2009

Antarctic Research
Deadline: June 8, 2009

Biomolecular Systems Cluster
Deadline: July 12, 2009

Geomorphology and Land Use Dynamics
Deadline: July 16, 2009

Science of Science and Innovation Policy
Deadline: Sept. 9, 2009

American Cancer Society
Research Scholar Grants in Basic, Preclinical, Clinical and Epidemiology Research
Deadline: April 1, 2009

American Association for the History of Nursing, Inc.
Grants for Historical Research (new researchers and doctoral students)
Deadline: April 1, 2009

Thrasher Research Fund
Early Career Award Program in clinical/translational pediatric research
Deadlines: Concept Submission, June 19, 2009; Invited Proposal, July 31, 2009

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Research Project

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


RESEARCHER: Michael S. Trent, associate professor, Section of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology
AGENCY: National Institutes of Health
AMOUNT: $1,630,250

The Gram-negative bacterium Vibrio cholerae is classified as a Category B food- and water-borne pathogen, causing the acute, severe, diarrheal disease known as cholera. Cholera remains a serious health threat to developing countries with approximately three million to five million cases per year.

V. cholerae is a normal inhabitant of aquatic environments, belonging to the free-living bacterial flora in estuarine areas. Although approximately 200 recognized O serogroups are known, only V. cholerae strains bearing the lipopolysaccharide (LPS) somatic antigens O1 or O139 have been associated with cholera pandemics. As is the case with most Gram-negative bacteria, the LPS of V. cholerae is composed of three distinct regions–the membrane associated lipid A domain, a short core oligosaccharide, and the O-antigen polysaccharide.

Our overall objective is to understand how alterations in the structure of LPS located on the bacterial surface promote survival of V. cholerae both in the aquatic environment and in the human host. This proposal will focus on defining structural alterations of V. cholerae lipid A in response to the bacterium’s extracellular environment and on the enzymatic mechanisms required for this process.

Structural alterations of V. cholerae lipid A will be monitored under diverse growth conditions that mimic conditions found either in the aquatic environment or in the small intestine. Completion of the research will significantly increase our understanding of the bacterial mechanisms contributing to cholera and possibly provide targets for the development of novel therapies and improved vaccines.

The specific aims of the research are: (i) structural analysis of V. cholerae lipid A species; (ii) environmental regulation of V. cholerae lipid A structure; (iii) enzymatic modification of V. cholerae lipid A; and (iv) Toll-like receptor mediated immune activation by V. cholerae LPS.

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