October 18, 2017
Funding Connection

Biosecurity Research Institute update
The Biosecurity Research Institute is proud to support K-State researchers as they work to safeguard our food supply and enhance biodefense.

Many research projects are ongoing at BRI. Here are two brief examples.

  • The United States Department of Agriculture declared seven shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) serotypes as adulterants in non-intact raw beef products, thus establishing the need for validated intervention strategies in commercial operations. Randall Phebus evaluates the efficacy of antimicrobials applied electrostatically to control STEC in beef, which could provide the beef industry with several impactful advantages compared to commonly used intervention strategies. These advantages include increased chemical deposition profiles and reduced overspray of expensive antimicrobials — plus the water used during carcass decontamination could be vastly reduced. The BRI’s commercial-sized beef processing equipment helps our researchers conduct studies using methods that are directly applicable to industry. 

  • Rift Valley Fever is an African virus that has the potential for introduction and transmission in the United States, similar to West Nile virus. It is transmitted by mosquitoes and infects livestock, causing deaths and abortions. It is also zoonotic and can cause fatal infection in people. Research planned for the BRI in a few weeks’ time is a collaboration between Bill Wilson (the principal scientist on this project) from the USDA Agricultural Research Service and Juergen Richt's Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases, or CEEZAD. This study will be the first to see if U.S. wildlife — specifically, white-tailed deer — are susceptible to infection, which would be vital information in the event that the virus was introduced here. The group previously conducted the first Rift Valley Fever virus studies in livestock in the U.S. since 1987.

Please contact me with your questions about the Biosecurity Research Institute.

— Stephen Higgs, associate vice president for research and BRI director
Events and announcements
  • The Kansas Science Communication Initiative will meet October 19 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. in Union 206. Check out the list of events for Science Communication Week, November 6-11.

  • The Governor's Conference on the Future of Water in Kansas is November 8-9 at the Manhattan Hilton Garden Inn. Registration is limited and has sold out in previous years. Find more information and register.

  • An Early Career Opportunities Information Session is slated for November 14 from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. in Union 206. Learn about a range of options and ask questions to a panel of faculty members who have received awards. See below for more information about resources related to these awards.
CAREER resources and tutorial library
The National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Program, known as the CAREER program, is the agency's most prestigious award.

K-State has a good track record of CAREER award-winning faculty, but the program is highly competitive and requires applicants to begin developing proposals far in advance of the due date.

Our Office of Research and Sponsored Programs has collected a number of resources for CAREER applicants on a new CAREER Resources web page . Find webinars, proposal writing tips from different experts, information about special workshops and CAREER-specific resources, and more. The page also includes information about other award programs for young investigators from the Departments of Defense, Energy, and Justice.

Additional resources for many areas are available in our Tutorial Library. Access the library with your K-State eid and password to find recorded training sessions, slides from program officer presentations, and resources for specific agencies, including NSF, DoD, and NIH — plus find guidance on general topics such as grant writing and working with industry.
Agency news and trending topics
The increasing rate of emerging and reemerging animal diseases, along with threats and attempts by those with nefarious intent to attack food and agriculture, point to the need to reduce the biological risk to America’s food and agricultural sector. That is the finding of a new report out today from the Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense: Defense of Animal Agriculture.

A cottage industry of small observatories is springing up around the globe to take advantage of astronomers' new ability to capture the gravitational waves from major cosmic events. These new facilities will enable researchers to match up those gravitational waves with electromagnetic signals and perhaps one day even particles of matter from some of the cataclysms that send measurable ripples through space-time.

The National Institutes of Health and 11 leading biopharmaceutical companies today launched the Partnership for Accelerating Cancer Therapies (PACT), a five-year public-private research collaboration totaling $215 million as part of the Cancer Moonshot. PACT will initially focus on efforts to identify, develop and validate robust biomarkers — standardized biological markers of disease and treatment response — to advance new immunotherapy treatments that harness the immune system to attack cancer.

An insidious fungus known as fusarium wilt has wiped out tens of thousands of acres of Cavendish plantations in Australia and Southeast Asia over the past decade. And the fungus recently gained a foothold in Africa and the Middle East, hitching a ride on the boots of workers helping to establish new plantations. Scientists say Latin America, the source of virtually all the bananas eaten in the United States, is next.

Researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health have completed a detailed atlas documenting the stretches of human DNA that influence gene expression – a key way in which a person’s genome gives rise to an observable trait, like hair color or disease risk. This atlas is a critical resource for the scientific community interested in how individual genomic variation leads to biological differences, like healthy and diseased states, across human tissues and cell types.

While the decline in public research funding may hurt Midwestern communities first, in the long run it puts the national economy at risk. The long slide in American R&D has triggered warnings since 2007, when a commission of experts from the National Academy of Science, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine produced  a report ominously titled “Rising Above the Gathering Storm .” It urged that the federal government do no less than double spending on research.

While the conventional narrative of the "rapid-rise, gradual decline" curve of productivity held true on average, a closer look into the individual trajectories of researchers told a different story. About 20 percent of researchers conformed to the average path, the researchers found, but the other 80 percent had careers of more varied productivity.
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