BLACKSBURG, Va. , September 5, 2012 -- The genetics of the yellow fever mosquito and poison ivy urushiol genes are among the 16 research topics funded through Virginia Bioinformatics Institute and Fralin Life Sciences Institute’s small grants program. VT researchers from eight departments and institutes won awards ranging from $7,500 to $19,000 to conduct research in the life sciences using the specialized next-generation sequencing equipment, facilities, and services offered by the Genomics Research Laboratory at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute.

Vying for a portion of a $200,000 award pool, fifty-two research teams from Vriginia Tech submitted proposals totaling $700,569. Drs. Stanley Hefta, director of the Genomics Research Laboratory; Boris Vinatzer, professor of plant pathology, physiology and weed science; and Liwu Li, professor of inflammation biology and immunology judged the submissions, evaluating the proposals based on the scientific merits of the research and the likelihood that additional extramural funding and publications would result from the study.

Small grant award winners have until May 30, 2013 to complete their research. Funding was appropriated September 1, 2012.

Winners of the small grants award are:

Zach Adelman, Igor Sharakhov, & Jake Tu (Entomology): Determination of genes responsible for sex-determination in the yellow fever mosquito

Josep Bassaganya-Riera, Raquel Hontecillas, & Pawel Michalak (Virginia Bioinformatics Institute): MicroRNA regulation of colonic CD4+ T cells during Clostridium difficile infection

Bryan Brown (Biological Sciences): Deciphering the complexity of a cleaning symbiosis: Combining next-generation sequencing with field experiments to elucidate the microbial component

Elizabeth Gilbert (Animal and Poultry Sciences): Chickens divergently selected for body weight for more than 55 generations differ in glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity

John Jelesko (Plant Pathology, Physiology, & Weed Sci): Identification of poison ivy urushiol biosynthetic genes using RNAseq

Shiv Kale (Virginia Bioinformatics Institute): Illuminating the pathogen-host interface during invasive Aspergillosis

Christopher Lawrence (Virginia Bioinformatics Institute): Transcriptional profiling of human innate immune responses to the allergenic fungus Alternaria

Dongmin Liu & Bubu Zhang (Human Nutrition, Foods, & Exercise): Identification of molecular targets for baicalein to improve pancreatic beta-cell function and prevent Type 2 Diabetes

Xin Luo & Husen Zhang (Biomedical Science): Probing cause-and-effect relationship between gut microbiota and host immunity using next-generation sequencing

Stephen Melville (Biological Sciences): Identify the genetic basis for phase variation in gliding motility by the human pathogenic bacterium Clostridium perfringens

John McDowell & Ruth Grene (Plant Pathology, Physiology, & Weed Sci): Transcriptomic definition of the diseased state in a model plantoomycete interaction

David Mittelman & Natalie Fonville (Virginia Bioinformatics Institute): Exploring genomic instability in Fanconi anemia

X.J. Meng (Biomedical Science): Systematic identification and analyses of microRNA and messenger RNA profiles in HepG2 cells infected with a cell culture-adapted hepatitis E virus (HEV)

Monica Ponder (Food Science & Technology), Matthew Hulver & Andrew Neilson: Functional foods to reduce inflammation and markers of metabolic syndrome: understanding association between gastrointestinal microbial community membership and endotoxemia

Dorthea Tholl (Biological Sciences): Elucidating transcriptional fingerprints of volatiles in Arabidopsis

Jake Tu (Biochemistry): Embryonic transcriptome of transgenic Anopheles stephensi

About the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute
The Virginia Bioinformatics Institute at Virginia Tech is a premier bioinformatics, computational biology, and systems biology research facility that uses transdisciplinary approaches to science, combining information technology, biology and medicine. These approaches are used to interpret and apply vast amounts of biological data generated from basic research to some of today’s key challenges in the biomedical, environmental, and agricultural sciences. With more than 240 highly trained multidisciplinary, international personnel, research at the institute involves collaboration in diverse disciplines such as mathematics, computer science, biology, plant pathology, biochemistry, systems biology, statistics, economics, synthetic biology and medicine. The large amounts of data generated by this approach are analyzed and interpreted to create new knowledge that is disseminated to the world’s scientific, governmental and wider communities.


Aleta Delaplane

September 05, 2012