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Knoxville Campuses Announce Pot of Gold Collaborative Award Winners

Janet Nelson, associate vice chancellor for research at the University of Tennessee, together with William Brown, dean of the UT Institute of Agriculture, and James Neutens, dean of the UT Graduate School of Medicine, announced the 2015-2016 Pot of Gold collaborative award winners today.

The Pot of Gold is a joint internal funding initiative, launched last year by UT Knoxville, the Graduate School of Medicine, and the Institute for Agriculture, to foster new and innovative research projects involving cross-campus collaborations.

“We are excited to foster these types of cross-campus collaborations and help catalyze strong transdisciplinary research endeavors among our teams,” said Janet Nelson, associate vice chancellor for research.

This internal funding opportunity grew from a question originally posed by Mitch Goldman from the Graduate School of Medicine to fellow researchers, “What would you do if you had some funding to support an entirely new collaborative research project?”

In the inaugural year of the program, seven collaborative teams involving combinations of faculty members from UT, GSM, and/or UTIA applied for funding. The group was able to fund two projects with a total of $15,000.

This year, the Pot of Gold program was expanded to $30,000 with the plan to support three projects. Nelson said the response to the call for proposals this fall exceeded the group’s expectations, with the submission of 22 high-quality proposals. In response to the quality of the application pool, Nelson, Neutens, and Brown met and decided to expand the program to be able to support six one-year grants of $10,000 each. They plan to continue the program next year.

The 2015-16 Pot of Gold teams are:

  • Shawn Campagna (UT, Chemistry) and Brynn Voy (UTIA, Animal Science) for “Cholesterol Metabolites- Metabolic Mediators of Adipocyte Metabolism”
  • Shigetoshi Eda (UTIA, Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries), Jayne Wu (UT, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science), and James McLoughlin (GSM, Surgical Oncology) for “Proof-of-Concept Study for Development of a Cervical Cancer Self-Testing Device”
  • Tim Sparer (UT, Microbiology) and Tom Masi (GSM, Cell Biology and Microbiology) for “CMV’s Infection and Alteration of Stem Cell Adipogenesis”
  • Deidra Mountain (GSM, Vascular and Endovascular Surgery) and Michael Best (UT, Chemistry) for “The Development of a Dual-Ligand PEGylated Liposome Nanotechnology for Cell-Selective Targeted Vascular Gene Therapy”
  • Daniel Caleb Rucker (UT, Mechanical, Aerospace and Biomedical Engineering,) and Andrew Russ (GSM, Colon and Rectal Surgery) for “A Robotic System for Colonoscopic Surgery”
  • Andy Sarles (UT, Mechanical, Aerospace and Biomedical Engineering) and Scott Lenaghan (UTIA, Center for Renewable Carbon) “Tissue-like Biomimetic Materials Incorporating Plant-Based Aquaporins”

“We are extremely pleased to see the number of quality applications and the strong cross-campus collaborations coming out of this program,” said Nelson. “We look forward to seeing the results of this investment during the next few years as these teams leverage this internal support to attract significant extramural funding.”