University of Vermont

mixture of campus

Sponsored Project Administration - SPA

SPA A-to-Z topics | 217 Waterman Building . 85 South Prospect Street . Burlington, Vermont 05405 . (802) 656-3360


American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

ARRA Award Report

  • Most Recent Report of ARRA Awards (February 6, 2014) - excel

ARRA Workbooks

  • Principal Investigator and Department Staff Instructions
    • ARRA Reporting Updates - word
    • Principal Investigator Workbooks V5.0 - excel
    • Vendor Information Worksheet V3.0 - excel
    • Subrecipient Workbook V6.0 - excel

ARRA Funded Research

JASON BATES, Ph.D - Professor of Medicine

"This summer, I obtained an ARRA supplement to each of my currently funded NIH grants (2 R01 grants and an R33 grant) for a summer studentship for this year and next. With this funding I was able to employ 3 bright young biomedical engineering students to work in my laboratory on projects related to the study of lung disease, asthma and acute lung injury in particular. Two of these students have continued on in the lab this semester to work on their senior honors theses. All three plan to return next summer for another 3 months of research experience. These studentships not only allow my own research to progress much faster than would otherwise have been the case, but they also provide the students with an opportunity to discover what biomedical research is all about, which significantly increases the chances that they will go on to pursue careers in this area themselves. I also spearheaded the submission of an ARRA supplement to the NRCC-COBRE award held by the Vermont Lung Center (PI: Charles. G. Irvin) which will allow us not only to create a much need research facility for biomedical investigators at UVM, but will also create a new position."

JOHN VOIGHT, Ph.D. - Assistant Professor of Mathematics

heckematrixDiophantus of Alexandria first sought solutions to algebraic equations in integers almost two thousand years ago. Today, these classical, hard problems in number theory are of renewed importance owing to their revolutionizing effect in the area of cryptography, the science of sending secret messages. The foundation of the modern - the security of electronic commerce - at its heart relies exactly upon the difficulty of solving certain basic number theoretic problems. In our research, we develop the theory, design, and implementation of algorithms in arithmetic geometry to contribute to the study of this burgeoning area. By pursing theoretical and practical aspects in parallel, the way is paved for significant discovery.

LESLEY-ANN L. DUPIGNY-GIROUX, Ph.D. - Associate Professor of Geography & Vermont State Climatologist

Lesley AnnMy ARRA funding project is to build a Diversity Climate Network (D-ClimNet) of students and faculty to enhance the climate sciences pipeline of minority students from high school to graduate levels. D-ClimNet represents a new national partnership among the University of Vermont (UVM), the University of California - Los Angles UCLA) and the University of Georgia (UGA) to create a pipeline of under-represented students from the high school to graduate degree levels. The network is unique in its focus on the climate sciences as well as its commitment to training the next generation of racially and gender diverse climate scientists with an explicit focus on climatology, climate change, and climate policy. Students will be recruited from the rural and urban areas of New York City, Los Angeles and Georgia. The three-year pilot study will use longitudinal tracking of Earth Science students from Grade 9 through graduate studies to pinpoint best practices for student recruitment and retention in the climate sciences, which many under-represented students do not view as a viable career option. In addition to receiving climate science academic content, participating students will also interact with faculty and other students across the three campuses via electronic workshops and present their research at regional conferences. One of the transformative aspects of the D-ClimNet is its involvement of the support system needed to facilitate student learning and academic success. This will take the form of Climate Days on weekends at participating high schools as well as allowing high school teachers to participate in the PI's NSF-funded Satellites, Weather and Climate program, where they will gain climate content knowledge to effect change in their curricula. Finally, three of the four PIs are African-American mid-senior career scientists who will serve as mentors and role models for the persistence needed by students to complete their degree. By entraining underrepresented minorities into the study of climate science, D-ClimNet will not only increase opportunities for these groups but will help to shape the "face" of the next-generation climate scientists so that it more closely resembles the society in which we live.

RALPH BUDD, M.D. - Professor of Medicine

We received two ARRA supplements to our COBRE grant from NCRR. One is to fund construction of a BLS3 facility ($1.2M total).

The second ARRA supplement will fund two pilot projects in the Immune response to infections ($400,000 direct). They will involve nearly all the COBRE faculty to foster collaborations. We specifically plan to obtain critical new information regarding the interaction of microorganisms that we study with two early innate immune response pathways, the RNA-sensing RIG-I helicase system to generate IFN?/?, and the NLRP-activated inflammasome. This combines our microbiologists' expertise in RNA viruses and parasites with the immunologists' expertise in immune signal pathways.

Dr. Budd received a third ARRA award as a supplement to his Gamma Delta T Cells in Lyme Arthritis research project. Since submission of the application we focused particularly on production of the soluble human TCR-gd from Lyme arthritis synovial Vd1 clones, as this will prove a highly valuable reagent in the proposed studies. At the time of submission of the original application we had recently cloned the g-chains and d-chains from one synovial Vd1 T cell clone into the baculovirus expression system and produced a soluble protein that had the correct molecular weight in non-reduced (59 kD) and reduced (30/28 kD) conditions. We have now produced sufficient quantities of the protein to test its ability to fold properly. Since we do not yet know the natural ligand for the TCR-gd we elected to test its ability to bind to the anti-TCR-gd antibody and hence compete with the antibody's ability to bind to the T cell clones. An example is presented showing that the soluble TCR-gd efficiently blocked staining by the anti-TCR-gd. By contrast, no blocking was observed of the soluble TCR-gd to anti-TCR-ab binding to ab T cells. We are now expanding production so that we should soon have sufficient quantities of protein to biotinylate for use in the proposed studies to determine the ligand for the Vd1 cells. As noted in the grant application, since Vd1 cells are also found in rheumatoid synovium and the intestinal epithelium, this reagent will be valuable for identifying potential T cell ligands in a variety of disorders.

ANNE B. MASON, Ph.D. - Research Professor of Biochemistry

ARRA funds awarded to Dr. Anne B. Mason in the Department of Biochemistry in the College of Medicine allowed her to support a UVM undergraduate, Samantha Roberts, for the entire summer. Samantha was able to continue and expand the training that had begun during her two years as a work study student. Samantha had already mastered many of the basic techniques utilized by the Mason laboratory to achieve the specific aims of NIH funded research but spending the entire summer allowed her to advance her understanding and significantly improve her ability to work independently. Our work involves delineation of the interaction of the iron binding protein transferrin with a specific receptor on the surface of all actively dividing cells which controls iron distribution in the body. Iron is crucial to the transport of oxygen and is central to energy generation by electron transport. Obviously, both iron deficiency (anemia) and iron excess are very detrimental to the well being of an organism. A more complete understanding of how iron from the diet is bound and released is crucial to development of strategies to combat these serious and widespread conditions. Specifically, Samantha has now mastered all of techniques involved in production and purification of transferrin molecules secreted by cells grown in a sterile environment. She has learned how to mutate single amino acids within transferrin; characterization of the single point mutants provides a means to determine the role of that particular amino acid in the function of transferrin. The work done by Samantha this summer has enhanced her personal intellectual growth and benefited society by furthering our knowledge of how transferrin carries out its role in the transport and delivery of iron to cells.

EDWARD WALKER, Ph.D. - Assistant Professor of Sociology

Edward T. Walker received an NSF ARRA award for his project The Influence of Professional Grassroots Lobbying Campaigns on Civic and Political Engagement. How has the civic and political participation of American citizens been changed by the growth of paid efforts to lobby the public? This project will help to answer this question by studying the activities of Professional Grassroots Lobbying Firms (PGLFs), which are organizations that, for a fee, use communications technologies to subsidize public participation on issues of interest to businesses, trade associations, interest groups, political parties, and government agencies. These organizations help to lower the perceived costs of participation by, for example, providing targeted activists with a ready-made message that could be easily sent to citizens' local, state, and/or federal-level representatives. Through a systematic survey of 233 lobbying firms, follow-up interviews, and analyses that tie the survey results to state-level civic and political data, the intellectual merit of the study is to greatly expand our understanding of the effects of paid, professional mobilization of the public. The results of the research will hold great potential for informing policy through understanding how professional mobilization either augments or mitigates participatory inequalities as well as the political power of the firms' institutional clients. This project helps to create and maintain employment in that the majority of funds will go to staff support for the survey research agency that will assist in conducting the study.

SARA HELMS CAHAN, Ph.D. - Assistant Professor of Biology

In her NSF ARRA funded project, Genetic Architecture and Evolution of Reproductive Caste Determination in Harvester Ant Dr. Cahan will be working to identify genes influencing development in an ant species in order to understand how genes interact with environmental cues to produce adult characteristics. The process of development is surprisingly plastic, allowing organisms to respond to environmental conditions while buffering development from stressors and toxins. Ants display extreme forms of plasticity that make them a valuable model for the study of development: both the large, reproductive queen form and the sterile worker form develop from exactly the same genome. The project will support a post-doctoral scholar and a graduate student, and will contribute to education at all levels through undergraduate independent study projects and a high-school outreach program held each summer. This work will contribute to identifying the key genetic elements that all animals share, including ourselves, underlying important processes in embryonic development.

JEANNE HARRIS, Ph.D. - Associate Professor of Plant Biology

Root SystemDr. Harris received a NSF ARRA award for her project Characterization of a LATD-dependent ABA signaling pathway. Unlike animals, plants continue developing their entire life, elaborating new organs, such as leaves and lateral roots, until they die. Rooted to the ground, plants must develop around such impediments as rocks, walls and shady neighbors. Plants have a simple root system composed of a primary root, which forms branches, which can themselves form branches. By regulating when and where a new branch is formed, the shape of the entire root system can be altered to adjust to the local environment. In this way plants can avoid a rock or salty patch of soil, or branch extensively to take advantage of a patch of nutrients. Plants, like animals, coordinate development between distant parts of their bodies using small chemical messengers, called hormones. We and others have shown that the plant hormone, Abscisic Acid (ABA), plays an important role in regulating the growing tips of the root system and stimulating them to grow, or inhibiting them. We know that the ability of ABA to stimulate growth requires a protein we call LATD/NIP. We are currently trying to find out how LATD and ABA function together and what other proteins are needed for them to regulate root growth. LATD appears to function by transporting small molecules in and out of root cells. We have no idea what molecules they transport. We are currently trying to figure out what LATD is transporting. Understanding how this process works at the molecular level could help us to modulate root growth. Plant success is often dependent on how rapidly plants root. Our results could help to increase rooting of crop plants and perhaps decrease plant death, or to increase plant rooting in an area susceptible to erosion, to help slow degradation of the environment. In addition, these experiments expand our knowledge in a fundamental area of biology: learning how the ability of stem cells to divide is regulated. This project supports two graduate students by hiring them as research assistants. In addition, this semester I have hired a recent UVM graduate to work as a technician for 6 months. This experience is giving her more exposure to hands-on biology and is preparing her to apply to graduate school for more advanced training and education.

JEFF FROLIK, Ph.D. - Associate Professor in the School of Engineering and MANDAR DEWOOLKAR , Ph.D. - Associate Professor in the School of Engineering

FrolikDrs. Frolik and Dewoolkar received an NSF ARRA funded "Grant Opportunities for Academic Liaison with Industry" (GOALI) award to collaborate with Jing Wang and Tom Weller (Univ. of South Florida), SRI International on their project Collaborative Research: Passive, Diamagnetic Inertial Sensing Integrated with High-Sensitivity Telemetry. This research will realize a new class of wireless sensors that are near-passive in energy needs. Synergistic design practices are being used to achieve increased activation/communication ranges as compared to existing technologies. The result will enable numerous new applications in which inertial sensors are expected to have long life and must be deeply-embedded. For example, the long-term monitoring of the stability of earthen structures (e.g., dams and levees) is specifically considered in this collaborative effort. The project involves researchers from electrical and civil engineering from two universities along with a non-profit research institute. Participants also include graduate students and an interdisciplinary undergraduate design team. The work is novel not only in the technologies utilized but also in the systems approach enabled through the collaboration. Specifically, the work leverages expertise in RF design, materials, channel characterization and geotechnics.

GARY MAWE, Ph.D. - Professor of Anatomy and Neurobiology

I received an NIH ARRA grant award for my project Neural Control of the Gallbladder and a supplement for an ongoing project in our laboratory, Neuronal Excitability and Motility in Colitis. Gallstone disease is one of the most common and most expensive of the digestive diseases in the USA, and a typical feature of gallstone disease is abnormal smooth muscle function. The objective of this grant is to develop a thorough understanding of the cellular mechanisms that are responsible for decreased gallbladder contractility in the diseased gallbladder. We are exploring the hypothesis that certain components of the bile can disrupt gallbladder muscle function when they are present in high concentrations, as occurs in gallstone disease. In our studies, we are discovering what cholesterol and hydrophobic bile salts do to muscle function, and how it happens. We hope that these studies will lead to new treatment strategies to prevent, and possibly provide a cure for, gallstone disease. The funds that are supplied through this ARRA award will allow us to retain our team of trained investigators and to conduct these studies.

I also received an NIH award to supplement an ongoing project in our laboratory, Neuronal Excitability and Motility in Colitis. We are conducting this research to understand how changes in the neurons and muscle of the colon (large intestine) contribute to altered function when the colon is inflamed. The colon contains neuronal networks that control the coordinated movement of luminal contents (such as fecal mater) along the bowel. We have discovered that colitis leads to alterations in neuronal activity such as hyper excitability and enhanced synaptic function, and that these changes are associated with disrupted colon motility. In other words, the colon becomes partially or completely obstructed in the inflamed and ulcerated regions. We will use these supplement funds to adapt specialized cellular imaging techniques to our investigations. This will allow us to visualize the activities of neurons and muscle cells simultaneously and identify precisely where deficits occur in the neuromuscular circuitry. These funds will allow us to hire a technician or postdoctoral fellow to conduct these studies.

JOHN G. CROCK Ph.D.- Assistant Professor of Anthropology; Director of the Consulting Archaeology Program

CrockThe University of Vermont Consulting Archaeology Program is working with the State of Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation to ensure that no significant archaeological sites are impacted during the construction of public drinking water and wastewater projects supported by federal stimulus funding. Research into the location and path of proposed projects in Vermont has resulted in the compilation of historical land use information and the discovery and preservation of previously undocumented Native American archaeological sites.

DAVID KRAG, M.D. Professor of Surgery

KragDr. David Krag's breast cancer research is in part supported by a 2009 ARRA renewal of funding for his national B-32/BP-59 trials. These clinical trials are working to make breast cancer treatment less invasive, and to predict recurrence more accurately. The B-32 trial will demonstrate that most breast cancers can be safely treated by removing fewer lymph nodes than previously recommended. The BP-59 trial looks in the bone marrow of first-time breast cancer patients for markers of systemic cancer recurrence. This ARRA award supports 3 full-time staff members, and portions of 8 others' time.

RAE NISHI, Ph.D. Professor of Anatomy and Neurobiology

This Challenge Grant for Adolescent Brains, Nicotine and Endogenous Prototoxins

is a new, multidisciplinary project that involves 5 neuroscientists from UVM together with a genetic epidemiologist at the NY State Department of Health Wadsworth Center in Albany to understand how the brains of adolescents differ from adults in their wiring and chemistry such that they are more susceptible to the addictive effects of nicotine. The adverse impact of smoking on health is a world-wide epidemic that contributes to four million deaths a year, with an expected increase to 10 million per year world-wide by 2030 (National Institute of Drug Abuse). Tobacco dependence is viewed as a pediatric disease because most people begin smoking during adolescence. Adolescents display a greater sensitivity to the addictive effects of nicotine, becoming dependent upon smoking more rapidly than adults. Studies also show that smokers who began as adolescents smoke more frequently with a lower rate of quitting. Our project will examine whether a specific group of genes- the so-called Prototoxins , which change how the brain responds to nicotine- might be involved in the differences between adolescents and adults. This project will stimulate the economy in Vermont by purchasing equipment worth approximately $70,000 from two local companies: MBF Bioscience in Williston, VT and Med Associates in St. Albans. In addition, we will be creating 3-4 fulltime positions for carrying out the research as well as research internship opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students.

RODNEY PARSONS, Ph.D. Professor and Chair of Anatomy and Neurobiology

We received two ARRA supplements to our Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) in Neuroscience grant from the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR) (see

Center for Neuroscience Excellence 3P20 RR016435-09S1

The first supplement request, written in collaboration with the Neuroscience COBRE Translational Core Director, Dr. Felix Eckenstein, received ARRA funds to significantly increase participation in the Summer Neuroscience Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SNURF) program. The SNURF summer jobs provide participating students with a stipend and cover their housing costs for ten weeks while they receive training in hands-on neuroscience research and assist UVM faculty in their experiments. Thanks to the ARRA funds, 9 additional students were able to participate in the 2009 SNURF program, for a total of 19 students. The students were selected from approximately 180 applicants (median GPA: 3.6) and worked with 17 participating faculty from five departments. Four of the 19 students were from UVM, 2 from Middlebury College and the remainder enrolled at schools throughout the USA. The students' work is expected to facilitate the generation of publications and submissions of research grant proposals by their faculty mentors. Besides training in research, our program also provides information and counseling regarding career choice to these talented students, who often go on to join graduate or medical school programs as their next step of professional development.

Center for Neuroscience Excellence 3P20 RR016435-09S2

The second supplement request, written in collaboration with the Neuroscience COBRE Co-Director, Dr. Cynthia Forehand, garnered funds to support the development of translational research projects by supporting 5 technical personnel in several different laboratories. The technical positions represent both new hires and persons whose jobs would have ended due to lack of funds. Projects these personnel support are 1) a study of the role of the neuropeptide PACAP in the etiology of anxiety disorders, 2) a study that examines the gender-specific role of the breakdown of extra cellular matrix in the development of obesity and insulin resistance, 3) a study that explores the role of the fat-derived hormone leptin in organizing the reproductive circuitry in the developing brain, 4) a study that investigates injury-induced changes in the electrical and chemical properties of neurons in the heart, and 5) studies in three laboratories that depend on a colony of mice that spontaneously develop neuroblastoma, a devastating childhood cancer. In addition to providing two years of guaranteed support for jobs for 5 people, an additional $100,000 was awarded to purchase equipment items that will significantly enhance the capability of two Neuroscience COBRE Core facilities that support multiple laboratories.

BERTA GELLER, Ed.D. Research Professor of Family Medicine and Radiology

Berta Geller received 3 ARRA awards; the first two are grouped under the title: Vermont Breast Cancer Surveillance System; the third is a Grand Opportunity award going to the Group Health Research Institute (GHRI) under which Berta will have a subcontract.

1. Measuring Quality of Breast Cancer Surgery

Women 65 years or older make up about half of the new breast cancer patients each year, and the absolute number of patients is expected to double over the next 20 years. Despite their large numbers, over the past several decades when older women develop breast cancer, they often do not receive treatment consistent with guidelines. This may be because we do not have data from randomized controlled trials about how treatment may affect older women, or due to co-morbidities not present in younger women, or perhaps due to inherent bias towards cancer in this patient population. This CER proposal will examine a head-to-head comparison of different surgical options as they are practiced in the community across three points in the continuum of care: detection, diagnosis and surgical treatment. Our aims are: 1. To learn to use the newly acquired Medicare / VBCSS linked data by examining questions related to the quality of breast cancer surgery. 2. To conduct comparative effectiveness research about the quality of breast cancer surgery in Vermont for women 65 and older who are covered by Medicare with respect to three clearly defined performance metrics (preoperative diagnosis, positive margin rate, breast conserving surgery) by examining variations in patterns of surgical care and effect on outcomes (local recurrence, complications, time to adjuvant therapy). 3. To determine whether institutional volume, surgeon volume, and patient demographics, risk factors and co-morbidities influence the choice of various options and the outcomes of these three performance metrics.

2. Equipment Supplement to the Vermont Breast Cancer Surveillance System

We will purchase equipment for the Vermont Breast Cancer Surveillance System (VBCSS) to meet our goals, including the use of new linked VBCSS/Medicare data and start to collect emerging technologies data for comparative effectiveness research. This project will save time and energy by replacing outdated equipment critical to the achievement of project goals. It will accelerate scientific discovery as it will allow for faster processing of data to be entered into the Vermont Mammography Registry. Faster processing will yield a richer database from which to glean scientific results.

3. Comparative effectiveness of breast imaging strategies in community practice (Grand Opportunity Award - Multiple PIs subcontract with Group Health Research Institute)

The overall goal of this project is to conduct comparative effectiveness research on breast cancer imaging modalities and strategies to inform evidence gaps on how to optimize breast cancer screening in community practice. The Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium (BCSC) is the only resource with breast cancer risk factor information on over 2 million women linked to: mammography examinations accurately identified as either screening or diagnostic and as either film-screen or digital; cancer registry and pathology databases to determine both benign and malignant outcomes; Medicare and Group Health managed care claims data to obtain comorbidities and healthcare utilization; and death data to ascertain vital status and cause of death. We will use the BCSC infrastructure and network of mammography facilities to examine screening intervals, screening modalities, and risk factors to determine their influence on breast cancer detection and mortality and associated costs. This research will set standards and methodology for comparative effectiveness studies in community practice and enable evidence-based recommendations that maximize screening effectiveness, minimize harms of screening, and optimize healthcare utilization.

CHRISTOPHER HUSTON, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Medicine

I received an ARRA supplement to my NIAID R01 grant. The focus of the parent grant is to characterize Entamoeba histolytica phagocytosis receptors and the ligands that they bind. E. histolytica is an intestinal amoeba that causes dysentery, and phagocytosis of host cells by E. histolytica is a prominent pathologic feature of the infection. This ARRA supplement will fund the purchase of a motorized microscope for live cell imaging, which will enable us to use a combination of immunofluorescent microscopy of fixed amoebas and live imaging to track green fluorescent protein-fusion proteins during amoebic phagocytosis of host cells and ligand-coated particles. Purchase of this instrument should dramatically enhance both the pace and quality of progress on this project, and identification of the amoebic receptors necessary for phagocytosis may lead to new targets for vaccine development.

ANNE B. MASON, Ph.D. - Research Professor of Biochemistry

Supplemental ARRA funds awarded to Dr. Anne B. Mason in the Department of Biochemistry in the College of Medicine will allow her to enhance and accelerate the aims of her funded research. Specifically, funds are provided for collaboration with Dr. Margarida Barroso at the nearby Albany Medical College. Dr. Barroso has a long standing interest in protein-protein interactions within the cell and in particular has studied the important iron transport protein, human serum transferrin (hTF) interacting with its specific receptor (TFR) found on the surface of all actively dividing cells. Dr. Barroso is an expert in confocal fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) microscopy. Since FRET detects interactions between protein components that are very close together, FRET-based microscopy approaches are powerful and appropriate to the study of the hTF-TFR interaction. Specifically, by attaching a fluorescent label to various hTF molecules (which we express and purify in our laboratory), she will be able to visualize what is actually happening within cells. The work will allow us to directly address the role of pH and iron binding in the regulation of protein conformation of hTF-TFR complexes during endocytic trafficking in polarized epithelial cells. Preliminary experiments have demonstrated the feasibility of the experiments and assure that much useful information will be forthcoming in the limited time frame of eleven months. The funds will allow Dr. Barroso to hire one full time person to carry out the work under her supervision. The interaction of hTF with its specific receptor controls iron distribution in the body. Owing to the fact that iron deficiency and excess are directly related to specific human diseases, understanding this process at the molecular level is essential to a complete understanding of iron metabolism.

JUDITH VAN HOUTEN, Ph.D. - Professor of Biology, Director of VT State EPSCoR and Director of the VT Genetics Network

Judith recieved 2 ARRA Supplement awards from the National Center of Research Resources (NCRR) and one ARRA award from the National Science Foundation.

VGN Advance Translational Research Supplement (S1) and Pilot Project Supplement (S2)

The Vermont Genetics Network (VGN) has been awarded $1.7M in ARRA funds, from the National Institutes of Health to support development of a regional fiber optic network. This project, seeks to advance translational research and workforce development through large-scale regional collaborative research. The five members of the North East Cyberinfrastructure Consortium (NECC) submitted concurrent supplement requests to collectively build a redundant regional network. The ARRA funds have had an immediate economic impact through the creation of new jobs within UVM. Increased broadband capacity in the region and biomedical workforce development will have a significant economic impact.

The Vermont Genetics Network (VGN) has been awarded $330,000 in ARRA funds, to develop expertise in the new field of metagenomics. A new research faculty position within the Bioinformatics Core of VGN has been established to carry out a pilot project in metagenomics. Blue-green algae blooms from Lake Champlain will be studied to contribute to a better understanding of why some blooms become toxic. These blooms have a detrimental impact on water quality and account for a significant economic impact in the region. In addition to this pilot study the five members of the North East Cyberinfrastructure Consortium (NECC) will carry out linked metagenomic studies of algae blooms across the region. These studies will leverage the new fiber optic network and Shared Data Centers established under ARRA funding. In addition to the creation of a new faculty position the ARRA funds will contribute to the economy of the region through biomedical workforce development and advanced research capacity.

Vermont EPSCoR Track II Fiber network

The Vermont EPSCoR program has been awarded $1.2M in ARRA funds from the National Science Foundation as part of a five state consortium. The North East Cyberinfrastructure Consortium (NECC) will build a dedicated fiber optic network linking UVM to research institutions in the northeast and to the Internet2 backbone. As part of the new network two Shared Data Centers have been developed to facilitate the use of very large data sets in collaborative research projects. A pilot project to sequence the genome of the Little Skate will leverage the new network and data center to promote regional research and workforce development. The ARRA funds have a direct economic impact for the region through new job creation, regional spending and workforce development in biomedical research. The fiber optic network is also funded by the National Institutes of Health.

CHARLES D. MACLEAN, M.D. - Associate Professor of Medicine, Associate Dean for Primary Care

The UVM College of Medicine Office of Primary Care (UVM-OPC) has a proven track record of providing opportunities for health professions students to learn and serve in communities throughout the state. Recruiting and retaining a robust primary care workforce is essential to maintaining the health of Vermont's population. The goal of this proposal is to establish the Vermont SEARCH Program (Student and Resident Experiences in Community Health) as a collaboration between the College of Medicine, the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, residency programs at the UVM-affiliated academic medical center, the Vermont AHEC Centers, and primary care practices throughout the state. This will be facilitated in cooperation with the Vermont State Offices of Primary Care and Rural Health, the Bi-State Primary Care Association, rural primary care practices, regional hospitals, and federal partners (e.g., HRSA and the National Health Service Corps).

We will expand opportunities for health professions students to experience outstanding team-based primary care, particularly in underserved communities. Our state currently enjoys excellent collaboration between these proposed SEARCH program stakeholders, but there remains an opportunity to facilitate and strengthen these community-academic linkages and thereby increase the healthcare workforce pipeline.

The specific aims of the proposed SEARCH project are to:

Aim 1. Develop and implement the Vermont SEARCH Program.

Aim 2. Enhance and expand community-based primary care Clinical Clerkship opportunities for medical students.

Aim 3. Enhance and expand elective community-based rotations and service-learning opportunities for health professions students.

Aim 4. Expand rural rotations for dentists and physicians in residency training.

KIMBERLY WALLIN, Ph.D. - Research Assistant Professor of Forest Ecosystem Health

ARRA funding supports a nonnative invasive insect and nonnative invasive plant survey (NNIP) on designated high use public recreation sites in both the USDA Forest Service Green Mountain National Forest (GMNF) and in State Parks in Vermont. The Forest Ecosystem Health Group and LANDS will conduct survey services on approximately 30 pre-designated high use public recreation sites in the both the GMNF and recreation sites in State Parks in Vermont for a total of 60 sites. The survey will focus on looking for signs and symptoms of Asian Longhorn Beetle, Emerald Ash Borer, Hemlock Woolly Adelgid and other nonnative insects encountered will be noted. The NNIP will focus on 34 terrestrial and riparian plants from the Class portion of the Vermont Quarantine list, one species from the Federal Noxious Weed list, and all terrestrial and riparian plants from the State Watch. There is widespread recognition for the need of a long term effort to manage the threat posed by nonnative invasive insects and plants. The survey results will help fulfill this need and lead to management recommendations for healthy sustainable forests.

PETER BINGHAM, M.D. - Associate Professor of Neurology

BinghamThe volatility of respiratory symptoms due to asthma is related in large measure to the dynamic nature of airway obstruction in this disease. The ability to detect airway obstruction early - respiratory interoception helps individuals with asthma to manage their symptoms, e.g., to decide when to take inhaled medications. Impaired respiratory interoception, conversely, commonly delays treatment and impedes clinicians' decisions regarding inhaled medicines. We developed breath-controlled video games as a means of pulmonary rehabilitation for individuals with chronic lung disease. Our experience with this approach in patients with cystic fibrosis shows that adolescents not only enjoy using a spirometer (a device traditionally used to measure inspiratory and expiratory flow rates) as a video game controller when playing an "eye-breath coordination" task, but they also learn to improve breath awareness. This finding has encouraged us to apply the breath-controlled video game approach to the problem of impaired respiratory interoception in asthma. Here we propose to further develop hardware and software for breath-controlled videogames that will function as an adjunct to respiratory therapy in asthma as well as for other chronic respiratory diseases. Programming of breath-controlled video games will incorporate a breath biofeedback educational process that promotes breath awareness by presenting the player with modulated representations of their own breathing patterns (Breath Biofeedback System and Method, U.S. Patent No. 7,618,378). We will design and prototype a breath-game controller modeled after digital spirometers used for clinical diagnosis. Hardware and software assets created through this project will be used in a field trial of the effect of breath-controlled video games on respiratory interoceptive accuracy in adolescents with asthma. Breath-controlled video games may also favorably impact asthma-related quality of life, as well as technique in, and adherence to, self-administration of inhaled medications. By embedding explicit educational messages within breath-controlled games, we expect this approach to promote self-management and effective use of health care resources on several levels. This project will also provide a foundation for studies of breath-controlled video games for adults with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

DANIEL WEISS, M.D., Ph.D. - Associate Professor of Medicine

There will never be enough donor lungs available to meet current and future transplantation needs. In contrast, de-cellularization of whole cadaveric lungs will result in an intact scaffold that can be re-cellularized with embryonic stem cells or with adult stem cells, including induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) derived from individual patients and subsequently utilized for autologous transplantation. Notably, the de-cellularization process removes cellular antigens responsible for immune rejection and the de-cellularized lungs maintain native airway and alveolar architecture, extracellular matrix protein composition, and pulmonary vascular network. This will provide a potentially limitless supply of unrelated donor cadaveric lungs for use in diseases such as emphysema and other diseases for which there is currently no effective cure.

Our preliminary data provide a firm platform for the proposed multi-institutional collaborative studies in which state-of-the-art bioengineering techniques will be utilized to develop optimal methods for growing functional lung tissue in de-cellularized lungs, including cadaveric human lungs, and to devise optimal approaches for surgical implantation.

NEIL ZAKAI, M.D. - Assistant Professor of Medicine

ZakaiAbout 300,000 Americans suffer blood clots of the legs or the lungs (venous thrombosis) each year. African-Americans have an approximately 30% to 60% increased risk of venous thrombosis for unknown reasons. The main limitation to studying this disparity is the lack of African-Americans in most large-scale epidemiological studies. The purpose of this study is to capture and verify venous thrombosis in the REasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke Study (REGARDS), a prospective national cohort study investigating geographic and racial disparities in stroke incidence and risk-factors in the United States and combine the data with the Longitudinal Investigation of Thromboembolism Etiology (LITE) in order to obtain a prospective cohort study with sufficient venous thrombosis events among African-Americans and European-Americans to study racial disparities in venous thrombosis in the United States. By understanding why African-Americans have more venous thrombosis, we hope to begin implementing public health measures to help address this disparity. More information about the REGARDS study can be found at:

Due to the diverse geographic nature of this study, this grant has allowed us to coordinate contacting these individuals, retrieving their medical records, and reviewing the cases to make sure the information is accurate. This grant has created and maintained physician, nursing, and technical jobs at the University of Vermont, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and at the University of Minnesota.

Last modified February 06 2014 03:46 PM

Contact UVM © 2015 The University of Vermont - Burlington, VT 05405 - (802) 656-3131