Funding for the Interdisciplinary Research Program along with the awarding of three seed grants will take effect Aug. 1.
The program was awarded donations to provide seed funding for scholars to conduct cancer and drug research.
“The awarded grants are intended to provide seed funding for the team of investigators to generate pilot data for external grant submissions,” said Jon Weidanz, associate vice president for research. “The purpose of the IRP is to foster interdisciplinary research between investigators from across the campus.”
The grant is $20,000 for one year, which will be split among the three research topics conducted. Duane Dimos, vice president for research, said it’s a small amount divided among multiple faculty members, but will still reap results.
Weidanz said the program’s funding alongside the opening of the Science and Engineering Innovation and Research Building promotes and strengthens interdisciplinary research for life and health sciences.
Founded in 2015, the program allows researchers to develop programs catering to the reduction of skin cancers, mental health hazards in homeless youths and new methods of creating a more cost-efficient way to deliver chemotherapy medicines.
“The idea was to provide incentive to develop new research partnerships across the campus between faculty members that probably wouldn’t normally have worked together, which was an important aspect of our goal to promote research collaborations between disciplines,” Dimos said.
Dimos said the program’s goal is for faculty members to collaborate with other professors from various colleges and strengthen research partnerships at the university.
“We do a lot of great research,” technology management director Teri Schultz said. “There are a lot of great faculty doing important research projects that could have an impact on society.”
Schultz said with the SEIR Building opening in summer 2018, research will continue to grow.
Dimos said many proposals were submitted, but the selected projects were not only the strongest, but also supported UTA’s Strategic Plan 2020.
One research project is about the pertinence of skin cancers. Prototypes are formed to cover drug-infused nanoparticles that can detect and kill melanoma cells.
“Projects related to health or medical research will be a critical part of the research to be conducted in the SEIR [Building],” Dimos said. “The SEIR will be a major new center of research at UTA.”
Cost efficiency of chemotherapy treatments is also under the program project umbrella, with faculty developing mathematical methods for imitating dynamics of calcium oscillations and intracellular signaling.
Intervention programs offered to homeless youth are hoped to reduce mental health disparities and increase physical activity. Landscaping and outdoor engagement will serve as a curriculum for homeless and at-risk youths.
“Our hope is that these projects can then become research programs funded by other sources at larger funding levels,” Dimos said. “Getting new projects started that can become successful programs in future years will be an important measure of success for the Interdisciplinary Research Program.”