Campus Life

Texas A&M Strategic Transformative Research Program Funds Seven Additional Awards In Second Year

December 22, 2017

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By Shana K. Hutchins, Texas A&M University College of Science

After earmarking more than $500,000 this past spring to support cutting-edge interdisciplinary research activities in 2017, the Texas A&M University College of Science is poised to kick off 2018 with an additional $344,000 commitment toward its campus-wide collaborative research and development initiative known as the Strategic Transformative Research Program (STRP).

Seven proposals involving 17 principal investigators have been selected to receive seed funding in the program’s second call for submissions, bolstered by $344,155 in total funding support. Project selection is based on the innovative and interdisciplinary nature of the work and the subsequent plan for future proposal development and submission.

The initiative, launched in spring 2017, previously funded 11 research concepts put forward by 27 faculty in its initial call for submissions, resulting in $504,882 in total first-round funding. Associate Dean for Research Dr. James D. Batteas, who serves as director of the STRP, says that in FY18, the college is seeking to direct up to $600,000 in support to new project teams as part of this round and a second solicitation for proposals set for March 2018.

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Enhancing competitiveness

“Our goal is to provide an influx of funds at the critical development phase of a project to help our researchers greatly enhance their competitiveness for higher level funding,” he added.

The work supported by these awards is expected to assist faculty as they test new concepts and ideas, ideally to ready them for submission as transformative research projects suitable for consideration for major funding opportunities through the federal agencies, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTFA), and the Department of Energy (DOE).

“We view fundamental science as central to so many areas,” Batteas said. “The STRP provides a critical bridge toward building interdisciplinary research teams at Texas A&M University by supporting the innovative concepts of our faculty, both in the College of Science and across the university, and providing a pathway to foster translational research.

Engaging junior faculty

“I have been especially excited to see how engaged our junior faculty have been with this process of building interdisciplinary research efforts.”

The program is jointly funded by the College of Science and the Office of the Vice President for Research and in cost-sharing partnership with the colleges of the participating principal investigators. In the current round, those include the Colleges of Medicine, Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, and Engineering.

To date, 18 one-year awards in amounts ranging from $25,000 to $50,000 have been presented to support of a variety of research-related areas — primarily to help fund the graduate students whose work is key to these projects.

A major outcome requirement of the supported work is the development and submission of a new grant application to an appropriate agency within the 12-month duration of the award. Batteas notes that three of the program’s 11 initial awards already have fulfilled that requirement.

Projects selected for funding in the first round of FY18:

  • “Chrontherapeutics in Glioblastoma: Leveraging Circadian Rhythms in p38 MAPK Activity,” PI: Deborah Bell-Pedersen (BIOL/CLSC); Co-PIs: David Earnest (NExT/CLMD) and Gerard Toussaint (NExT/CLMD) – $49,771
  • “New Agents for Imaging and Treating Glioblastoma,” PI: Kevin Burgess (CHEM/CLSC); Co-PI: Raquel Sitcheran (MCMD/CLMD) – $50,000
  • “Characterization of Non-Transferrin-Bound Iron (NTBI) in Mammals,” PI: Paul Lindahl (CHEM/CLSC); Co-PI: Joanne Hardy (VLCS/VMBS) – $50,000
  • “Magnetic Bubble Chambers Utilizing Single-Molecule Magnets,” PI: Rupak Mahapatra (PHYS/CLSC); Co-PI: Michael Nippe (CHEM/CLSC) – $50,000
  • “Mapping Milky Way Halo Structures Using Variable Stars in the Dark Energy Survey,” PI: Jennifer Marshall (PHYS/CLSC); Co-PI: James Long (STAT/CLSC) – $44,384
  • “Using Chlamydomonas as a Living Bioreactor or Bio-Template for Biomolecule Synthesis,” PI: Hongmin Qin (BIOL/CLSC); Co-PIs: Kung-Hui Chu (CIVL/CLEN), James Smith (BIOL/CLSC) and Arum Han (ECCE/CLEN) – $50,000
  • “Role of Circadian Rhythms in the Susceptibility to Clostridium difficile Infection,” PI: Joseph Sorg (BIOL/CLSC); Co-PI: Jerome Menet (BIOL/CLSC) – $50,000


To learn more about the Strategic Transformative Research Program or research in the Texas A&M College of Science, visit or contact Batteas at (979) 845-7361.

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