News

Notre Dame researchers study potential cause of common birth defect

Author: Brandi Klingerman

Dovichi

Small ubiquitin-like modifier (SUMO) proteins are small peptides that get added on to other proteins to regulate their activity. While SUMO has many regulatory roles in cells, it is especially important for controlling gene expression during early development. Just a few years ago this connection between SUMO and gene regulation was relatively unknown, but now, Notre Dame researchers are exploring how a disruption to the SUMO protein’s ability to regulate embryo development may be linked to congenital heart defects. 

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Baker Lab Receives $4M NIH Grant for Precision Immunotherapy Research

Author: Tammi Freehling

 

Brian Baker

Brian Baker, Rev. John A. Zahm Professor and Chair of the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, was recently awarded a $4 million, 5-year grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study how to best engineer a patient’s own T cells in their immune system to target the patient’s specific cancer.

Over the last decades, immunologists have been gaining greater understanding of the relationship between cancer and the immune system—more specifically, how the immune system defends against cancer. For example, immunologists know that patients with weakened immune systems (recipients of organ transplants, HIV patients, etc.) have greater occurrences of cancer. The question “How does cancer escape the immune system, take hold, and progress?” has been studied for many years and has led to new approaches, including successful new drug therapies like the immunotherapy treatment former President Jimmy Carter received that has rendered his metastatic melanoma in remission. Understanding the relationship between the immune system and cancer has led to these new drug therapies, which “take the brakes off” the immune system to allow a more complete and effective anti-cancer immune response.

The next frontier of immunotherapy involves custom engineering immune treatments for each patient. According to Baker, “An important class of cells in the immune system are cytotoxic T cells—killer T cells—because they attack and kill viruses, pathogens, and even tumors. What we are working toward is engineering those T cells to target a specific cancer with great efficiency and potency.”

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New imaging website

Author: Sarah Chapman

Screenshot 44

The Notre Dame Integrated Imaging Facility (NDIIF) has launched a new website, imaging.nd.edu. The new website provides a clean, modern look that aims to serve faculty and students, as well as external customers, who are seeking imaging research services.

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Eli Lilly faculty fellowship provides drug discovery experience

Author: Brandi Klingerman

Haifenggao 250

Diabetes is a metabolic disease in which the body has an inability to produce enough insulin. In the United States alone, it is estimated that the illness affects nearly 30 million diagnosed and undiagnosed people, and treatment often includes patients using an intravenous or IV method to get insulin into their system. This uncomfortable and inconvenient form of treatment can require anywhere from two to four injections a day, but a Notre Dame researcher is working to combat this problem with a less frequent, oral delivery system.

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Nicholas Myers takes second place in elevator pitch competition

Author: Chontel Syfox

Nick Myers

Notre Dame doctoral candidate, Nicholas Myers, placed second in an elevator pitch contest at the Micronutrient Forum 2016 global conference in Cancun, Mexico. The Micronutrient Forum aims to be a global catalyst and convener for sharing expertise, insights, and experience relevant to micronutrients in all aspects of health promotion and disease prevention. It brings together researchers, professionals, students, organizations, and stakeholders to converse and collaborate in order to end malnutrition worldwide. The particular focus of the 2016 global conference was the positioning of women’s nutrition at the center of sustainable development.

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Notre Dame-Purdue Symposium Encourages Networking, Collaboration Opportunities in Soft Materials and Polymer Research

Author: Heidi Deethardt

Notre Dame’s third annual symposium on soft materials research was expanded this year to a two-university event.  On October 8, nearly 70 faculty, postdoc and student researchers attended the first Notre Dame-Purdue Symposium on Soft Matter & Polymers at Notre Dame’s Eck Visitors Center.

“The symposium functions as a platform to share research between schools in Indiana, to network between research groups, and to seek opportunities for collaboration,” said event co-organizer Haifeng Gao, Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry at Notre Dame.  “We plan to include other nearby research universities in future events, such as the next one at Purdue University,” said event co-organizer Jianguo Mei, Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry at Purdue University.

Group 2016 Soft Matter Symposium

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Chemistry alumna, Ann Weber ‘82, inducted into MEDI Hall of Fame

Author: Tammi Freehling

Ann Weber '82

Newly inducted into the MEDI Hall of Fame this year, alumna Ann Weber ’82, graduated summa cum laude from Notre Dame with a B.S. in chemistry and earned a Ph.D. in synthetic organic chemistry from Harvard University. She is currently Senior Vice President – Drug Discovery at Kallyope Inc., a New York City-based biotechnology company focused on harnessing the potential of the gut-brain axis.

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Collaboration yields new understanding of nano properties needed to build new materials

Author: Gene Stowe

Jon Camden

A collaboration between Jon Camden, Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, David Masiello of the University of Washington, and Philip Rack of the University of Tennessee has directly observed hybridized magnetic resonances in plasmonic nanostructures for the first time. The achievement is a critical step toward developing materials that interact with light in unexpected ways and that may someday cloak military equipment throughout the visible spectrum or underlie future PV technology optimized to capture energy from the sun’s infrared rays. Their paper on the work, “STEM/EELS Imaging of Magnetic Hybridization in Symmetric and Symmetry-Broken Plasmon Oligomer Dimers and All-Magnetic Fano Interference,” was published in the American Chemical Society’s Nano Letters.

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Notre Dame Student Researcher Participates in Biomedical Entrepreneurship Crash Course

Author: Brandi Klingerman

Each year, SPARK, a Stanford University initiative that provides the education and mentorship in order to advance research discoveries from the bench to the bedside, hosts a diverse group to participate in a 12-day training course in biotech innovation and entrepreneurship. The program provides an understanding of how biotechnology products, such as medical devices, food science, and general medical science, and companies are created, established, managed, advertised, and funded. Ricardo Romero, graduate student of the Integrated Biomedical Sciences program and researcher in the Harper Cancer Research Institute, had the opportunity to attend the program through the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (Indiana CTSI).

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Fighting to Cure Food Allergies

Author: Brandi Klingerman

Professor Basar Bilgicer hopes to make allergies, and the accompanying anxiety and trauma, a thing of the past. For an aspiration that large, he had to start small. Biomolecular small.

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Notre Dame interdisciplinary researchers receive $1.1 million grant from NIH

Author: Tammi Freehling

Patricia Clark

Researchers representing four labs across two colleges at Notre Dame have received a four-year, $1.1 million Research Project Grant (R01) from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The oldest grant mechanism used by the NIH, the R01 provides support for health-related research and development based on the mission of the NIH.

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Nanoparticles with a big environmental impact

Author: Brandi Klingerman

Jon Camden

Consider that a human hair is anywhere from 60,000 to 80,000 nanometers in size. A plasmonic nanoparticle, which is a nanoparticle made of noble metals like gold and silver, at their largest are just 100 nanometers, but pack a big punch.

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Notre Dame researchers find transition point in semiconductor nanomaterials

Author: Gene Stowe

Collaborative research at Notre Dame has demonstrated that electronic interactions play a significant role in the dimensional crossover of semiconductor nanomaterials. The laboratory of Masaru Kuno, professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and the condensed matter theory group of Boldizsár Jankó, professor of physics, have now shown that a critical length scale marks the transition between a zero-dimensional, quantum dot and a one-dimensional nanowire.

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