Waisman researchers part of several UW2020 awards

Several research and infrastructure projects featuring Waisman Center researchers as the primary or co-investigator have been selected for the second round of funding through the UW2020: WARF Discovery Initiative by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education.

Underwritten by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF), reviewers chose from nearly 120 proposals outlining early-stage studies and investments in instruments and equipment aimed at providing important momentum to interdisciplinary research that could soon merit more attention and outside funding.

Waisman Center researcher Su-Chun Zhang aims to use stem cells and a designer drug to ultimately repair a neural circuit damaged in individuals with Parkinson’s disease. UW2020 funding will allow animal trials, which, if successful, will “serve as a preclinical setting for future treatments for Parkinson’s disease and other neurological conditions.” This project also features Waisman Center researcher Bradley Christian as a co-investigator.

Christian, and Andrew Alexander and Alexander Converse – both Waisman Center researchers – are co-investigators on a project that aims to combine different brain-imaging techniques to create a more holistic and clearer picture of how our brains – and decision making capabilities – are influenced by different drugs and chemicals.

Alexander is also a co-investigator on a research project combining linguistics and neuroimaging to observe how the larynx operates when we pronounce certain consonants and map the areas of the brain that are active during these pronunciations.

An infrastructure project funded to acquire a new kind of DNA sequencing machine includes Waisman Center researcher Xinyu Zhao as a co-investigator. This new sequencer from Pacific Biosciences will allow researchers across UW-Madison to “push the bounds of epigenetics, human genomics, biomarker discovery, metagenomics and evolutionary and developmental biology research.”

Zhao is also a collaborator on a project to establish a library of small molecules at UW-Madison and establish a compound purification center, both of which will “foster cross-collaboration between UW chemists, medicinal chemists and biologists; identify new, therapeutically significant chemicals; generate new intellectual property for patenting; produce impactful studies; and establish the preliminary data needed for pursuing funding for new multidisciplinary research projects.”

The award recipients are the second set of UW2020 awardees, following 14 awards announced in April. In the second round, UW2020 provides an average award of about $360,600 over two years for the successful proposals.

“This group of UW2020 proposals illustrates the depth of our faculty’s commitment to innovative research,” says Marsha Mailick, UW–Madison vice chancellor for research and graduate education. “We believe that these projects will make a lasting impact by improving lives and expanding our understanding of the natural world.”

To learn more about the UW2020 Initiative and read about all the successful proposals, please visit https://research.wisc.edu/resfunding/uw2020-initiative/round-two/