MU faculty earn funding through the Missouri Life Sciences Research Trust Fund

Seven Missouri researchers recently received funding through the Missouri Life Sciences Research Trust Fund. Six of the researchers are from the University of Missouri—of these, three are from the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. The grants total $5,525,785.

The Missouri General Assembly created the fund in 2003 to enhance research capacity in life sciences to better serve the health and welfare of Missouri citizens; promote Missouri as a center of life science research and development by building on the success of existing Missouri research institutions; create and attract new research and development institutions; and transform research into commercial life science technology.

Felix B. Fritschi, assistant professor in the CAFNR division of plant sciences, was approved for funding in the amount of $1,558,125 for his project: “Drought Simulators Critical to Translational Research in Plant Science.”

Fritschi earned his Ph.D in plant biology from the University of California, Davis. His main research interests include plant responses to abiotic stress. In particular, Fritschi studies the effects of water deficit and heat on plant growth and productivity.

Toshihiko Ezashi, research assistant professor in the CAFNR animal reproductive biology group, was approved for funding in the amount of $180,000 for his project: “Derivation of Induced Pluripotent Cells from the Pig.”

Ezashi earned his Ph.D. from Gunma University-Japan and conducted his postdoctoral training at Osaka Bioscience Institute before coming to the University of Missouri in 1995. His research focus is on gene regulation and embryonic stem cells.

John Viator, assistant professor in MU biological engineering, was approved for funding in the amount of $407,789 for his project: “Photoacoustic Detection of Circulating Melanoma Cells in Blood.”

His research interests involve biomedical optics, photoacoustics, laser applications in dermatology, surgery and oncology. He earned his Ph.D. from Oregon Health and Science University.

Ralph Butler, director of the MU Research Reactor, was approved for funding in the amount of $1,097,761 for his project: “Molybdenum-99 / Technetium-99m Processing Facility at MURR.”

Butler came to the MU Research Reactor as chief operations officer in August 2000 and has been its director since August 2001. He has more than 30 years of nuclear experience in the management, oversight and operation of U.S. Navy, commercial and U.S. Department of Energy facilities, both domestic and international.

William Fay, professor of medicine and director of the MU Division of Cardiology, was approved for funding in the amount of $815,625 for his project: “Targeting Plasminogen Activator Inhibitor-1 to Inhibit Restenosis.”

Restenosis refers to an abnormal narrowing in a blood vessel or other tubular body structure. Fay’s MU research areas focus on the roles of blood coagulation and fibrinolytic systems in vascular disease. Fay earned his M.D from the University of Illinois. He was a postdoctoral research fellow at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and an associate professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan before coming to MU.

Mark McIntosh, professor and chairman of MU Molecular Microbiology and Immunology and director of DNA Core Facility, was approved for funding in the amount of $1,302,217 for his project: “Informatics Research Core Facility.”

McIntosh’s research interests include bacterial pathogenesis, iron-mediated regulation of gene expression, bacterial membrane transport processes using energy-driven receptors and molecular biology of mycoplasmas. McIntosh earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin.

Joshua Rovey, assistant professor of aerospace engineering and director of the Aerospace Plasma Laboratory at the Missouri University of Science and Technology, was approved for funding in the amount of $164,268 for his project: “Pseudospark Pulsed Plasma X-ray Generation for Portable Medical Devices.”  Rovey earned his Ph.D. in aerospace engineering at the University of Michigan.

Tom Payne, dean and vice chancellor, and Marc Linit, associate dean, CAFNR, serve as director and associate director of the Statewide Center of Excellence for the Life Sciences Research Trust Fund.

Mike Chippendale, president of Chippendale Consulting and emeritus professor in the MU Division of Plant Sciences, served as chair of the Statwide Center Screening Committee. The committee evaluated 108 letter of intent of the 183 submitted in this year’s round of competition. They screened 32 of the invited full proposals. Of those, the seven mentioned above were funded after deliberations of the Life Science Research Trust Fund Board which considered scientific reviews provided through AAAS.