In this edition of Research Connections, find links to researchers in the news, updates on important deadlines, and more news for University of Rochester researchers. Email not displaying correctly?
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Images of research

Alice Quillen, Professor of Physics and Astronomy, and her collaborators have created a new 3-D map of stars at the center of the Milky Way galaxy, showing more clearly than ever the bulge at its core. Their mathematical model shows the stars there probably move in peanut-shell or figure of eight-shaped orbits. Astronomers develop theories of star motions to not only understand how the stars in our galaxy are moving today but also how our galaxy formed and evolves. Quillen's study, which appeared in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, has also been reported by Universe Today, The Almagest, E-Science News, Science Daily, and The image above is from an N-body simulation of the core of the galaxy.

Do you have an interesting photo or other image that helps illustrate your research? We would like to showcase it. Send a high resolution jpg or other version, along with a description of what it shows, to

Cancer Center 'seed grants' help projects meet higher federal bar

Wilmot Cancer Center's $50,000 "seed grants" provide important "priming of the pump" dollars to help promising UR research projects reach the stage where they can compete for federal funding. "These are critical for our survival as a research community at a time when it is harder and harder to get federal dollars because the amount of preliminary data needed to compete is getting higher and higher," explained Hartmut "Hucky" Land, Wilmot's Co-director and Director of Research at a recent "town hall" meeting updating the center's activities.

During 2013, 11 such grants were awarded to investigators in 10 different departments, Land said, bringing total seed grant awards to nearly $1 million since 2012. Recipients include River Campus researchers. For example, Alison Frontier, Associate Professor of Chemistry, received one of this year's seed grants to pursue novel inhibitors that offer promise for the treatment of multiple types of challenging cancers. Indeed, Land is encouraged that the 80 applications received this year came from across the University. "It builds our research community. We perceive that as essential for the research mission of the cancer center." To learn more contact Land.

Private donors and philanthropists provide the funding for the grants, with the annual Discovery Ball being the largest source of funds. Another source is the Planting Seeds of Hope event. Speaking of which . . .

Volunteers needed for 'Seeds of Hope'

Volunteers are needed to help answer phones during the annual "Planting Seeds of Hope" televised fundraiser for Wilmot Cancer Center research "seed grants." It is held in the lobby of Strong Memorial Hospital. Volunteers are needed for two-hour shifts anytime from 5-7:30 p.m. Jan. 28 and from 6 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. the next day. Contact Karen Humbert.

UR's Research Strategic Plan: Engaging the Private Sector

(Last in a series on the UR Research Strategic Plan for 2013-2018)

"Research universities occupy an especially unique space. These institutions not only teach and educate, but they also create new knowledge and develop new ideas. In the past, the Ivory Tower mentality has fostered an inward-facing approach that has gotten in the way of engaging fully with society. But as private industry looks increasingly to academia for innovation, and as communities seek new drivers of economic growth, it will be increasingly important for research universities to engage with -- and even transform -- both society and their local communities." -- Stephen Dewhurst, Vice Dean for Research, Associate Vice President for Health Sciences Research.

An important strategic objective is to "significantly enhance university relations with business partners," the University's Research Strategic Plan states.

Corporations contributed only about 5.25 percent of the University's research funding in Fiscal Year 2012, down from prerecession levels ranging from 9.1 to 10.4 percent during FY 2001-2005.

The University has several centers, programs and core facilities that, to varying degrees, offer opportunities for research collaboration with the private sector.

The establishment of a Center for Business Engagement, already underway, is an effort to coordinate the University's outreach to industry, and to provide a simple, "one-stop" portal for companies that express interest in collaboration.

A computer-based system will track interactions with companies, so that efforts to develop relationships can be "coordinated and well targeted." Adam Tulgan, recently hired as Director of Corporate Relations, reporting to both the Senior Vice President for Research and the Assistant Vice President for Corporate and Foundation Relations, will be the point person for this effort.

Click here to read the Research Strategic Plan.

Iberdrola offers graduate scholarships in energy

Students taking master's level instruction in energy-related areas during the 2014/15 school year are eligible to apply for Iberdrola USA Foundation scholarships targeted specifically at the UR and the University of Maine. The multinational energy group is offering grants that will cover full tuition, plus a $25,200 stipend for students studying renewable and sustainable energy, the environment and biodiversity, clean combustion and emissions, energy efficiency and storage, electric vehicles, or smart distribution networks. Deadline to apply is Feb. 27; learn more here.

Research collaborations highlighted in CTSI seminar series

The theme for this semester's Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) Seminar Series will be "Crossing Elmwood: River Campus-Medical Center Research Collaborations. " The first seminar in the series will be Seeing eye to eye: connecting artificial intelligence with automated surgery grading via digital videos, featuring Yousef Khalifa, Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology and Jiebo Luo, Professor of Computer Science, at 12:15 p.m., Jan. 14. All seminars will be in Helen Wood Hall Auditorium (1W-304). Click here for more about this series.

CTSI welcomes new informatics director

Timothy D. Dye has been appointed the new Director of Biomedical Informatics for the CTSI. He will coordinate services and oversee expansion and dissemination of research information resources to support clinical and translational research activities for the CTSI and its partners. Click here to read more in the CTSI Stories Blog.

Introducing a new faculty member

Tong Tong Wu has joined the Department of Biostatistics and Computational Biology as an Associate Professor. Wu received her PhD in Biostatistics from UCLA in 2006. Prior positions include postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Human Genetics, UCLA and Assistant Professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of Maryland. Wu is a biostatistician with interests in high-dimensional data analysis; survival analysis; machine learning; computational statistics; computational biology and statistical genetics; and longitudinal data analysis.

Congratulations to . . .

Judith F. Baumhauer, Professor of Orthopaedics, and Surgeon of the Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Institute at the Medical Center, who was named by Orthopaedics This Week as one of the top 26 foot and ankle surgeons in North America.

John C. Elfar, Assistant Professor of Orthopaedics, who has been named the 2013 recipient of the Hand Surgeon-Scientist Award by the American Society for Surgery of the Hand. The five-year grant will provide $187,500 for Elfar's research lab, which studies neuroregeneration and tendon healing.

Researchers in the news

A new study by Medical Center researchers demonstrates that when mice were exposed to cigarette smoke, it caused alterations in the way genes express the circadian clock and disruptions of circadian clock function in lung and brain tissue. This affected locomotor activity, and also increased lung inflammation and COPD/emphysema. "This study has found a common pathway whereby cigarette smoke impacts both pulmonary and neurophysiological function and ruins productive sleep, leading to cognitive dysfunction, mood disorders, depression and anxiety," said Irfan Rahman, Professor of Environmental Medicine and of Pulmonary Diseases and Critical Care. The study has also been reported by England Mail, DNA India and other publications.

When Rochester's City Newspaper wanted to shine the spotlight on 10 hard-working background players on the local scene, it selected Michael Keefer, Professor of Infectious Diseases and Co-director of the Center for Aids Research, as one of them. Read more.

Prof. Maiken Nedergaard's study showing how sleep allows the brain to flush its wastes was listed among the top 10 brain science and psychology studies of 2013 by

The naked mole rat, whose remarkable longevity and resistance to cancer has been explored by UR biologists Vera Gorbunova and Andrei Seluanov, has been named Vertebrate of the Year by Science Magazine.

Why does legislation designed specifically for cities fail at much higher rates than bills for small cities and towns? Gerald Gamm, Associate Professor of Political Science, and Thad Kousser, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of California, San Diego, found that any tension between rural and urban areas is not to blame. Rather, squabbles within large urban delegations undercut their political juice. "Big-city delegations are often fragmented and are often internally divided," Gamm said, "and their bills fail because they're not agreeing on what they want the legislation to be."

Rochester researchers believe they are the first to systematically pinpoint and catalogue compassionate words and actions in doctor-patient conversations. By breaking down the dialogue and studying the context, scientists hope to create a behavioral taxonomy that will guide medical training and education.

Research@URMC reports that a two-year-long Phase 2 clinical trial of the nutritional supplement inosine has shown that the compound can safely and effectively raise levels of urate in the blood. This is an important step because scientists suspect that urate may slow the progression of Parkinson's disease. The results were published in the journal JAMA Neurology. Karl Kieburtz, Director of the CTSI and the Center for Human Experimental Therapeutics, and the Robert J. Joynt Professor in Neurology, is one of the co-principal investigators of the study along with researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard University.

Mark your calendar

Jan .15: Internal deadline (extended) for the 2014 Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists program. Applications for up to 14 exceptional postdoctoral scholars will be submitted to Blavatnik on a first come, first served basis. The nomination statement should come from the postdoctoral scholar's mentor. Applications should be sent directly to Debra Haring.

Jan. 24: Thomas Cech, who shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1989 for discoveries of the catalytic properties of RNA, will be the keynote speaker at the 2014 Medical Scientist Research Symposium, a half-day event that also includes a poster session. Cech's lecture will be at 1 p.m. in the Class of '62 Auditorium. The symposium is held to showcase the research and scientific accomplihments of the UR Medical Scientist Training Program.

Feb. 3: Deadline to apply for Center For AIDS Research awards proposals targeted at the following areas of scientific interest: CNS, HIV and Aging and Age Related Complications including Cancer and Cardiovascular Risk; HIV and RNA and Viral latency/Reactivation. Awards are for one year with maximum funding per application of $35,000 in Direct Costs. Applications must be submitted to Jennifer Lynch.

Feb .13: Building a Tool Kit for Research Quality Part II. University Quality Improvement teams share their processes and pearls of wisdom. Learn from the best. Sponsored by SCORE. 12:00-1:30 p.m., Helen Wood Hall (1w-502).

Please send suggestions and comments to Bob Marcotte.. To see back issues, click here.

Copyright 2013, All rights reserved.
Rochester Connections is a weekly e-newsletter for all faculty, scientists, post docs and graduate students engaged in research at the University of Rochester. You are receiving this e-newsletter because you are a member of the Rochester community with an interest in research topics.