Three Researchers Awarded Inaugural Seed Grants

<p>Left to right: Lily Cheung, Michael Goodisman, Matt Torres</p>

Left to right: Lily Cheung, Michael Goodisman, Matt Torres

Three Petit Institute researchers – Lily Cheung, Michael Goodisman, and Matt Torres – have been awarded the 2020 Petit Institute Seed Grants for Core Facilities.

The program was created to give Petit investigators an opportunity to perform novel experiments that will result in valuable preliminary data with equipment they have not used before. The amount of equipment time given through the seed grants will allow researchers to gather preliminary data for future grant proposals.

Cheung (assistant professor, School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering) is working on a project called, “Transporters for the Microbial Biosynthesis of Plant Products," and will utilize the Next Generation Sequencing MiniSeq equipment at the Petit Institute’s Molecular Evolution Core Facility. This project will engineer biomolecular sensors for the functional characterization of transporters – the proteins embedded in membranes that allow the traffic of compounds between cells and subcellular compartments. Sensors can dramatically accelerate the identification of the substrates for transporters, which can help engineer strategies to increase the yield of drug biosynthetic pathways.

Goodisman (associate professor, School of Biological Sciences) also will utilize the Molecular Evolution Core Facility for his project, “Population Genetics of Yellowjackets." Goodisman will leverage state-of-the-art equipment in this core and see if he can expedite his team’s DNA fragment analysis processing. The goal of the project is to better understand the evolution and ecology of highly social species (such as yellowjackets). 

Torres (associate professor, School of Biological Sciences) will make it three-for-three for Molecular Evolution. He is working on a project called, “"Transitioning from Yeast to Humans: Proposal for Usage of the GT Tissue Culture Facility." Torres’s team use a yeast model system to study and identify novel G protein regulatory mechanisms which will provide foundations for the development of better drugs in the future. They will use space dedicated for human cell culture in the Molecular Evolution Core Facility to establish a sustained human cell signaling research program.

The dollar value of each grant awarded varies based on the equipment utilized in the research project and does not include reagents. To learn more here about the seed grant program, click here.