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Health  Sustainability  Policy  Technology

LIVING THE

PROMISE INNOVATIVE THINKING

BREAKTHROUGH RESEARCH REAL-WORLD SOLUTIONS

2014 RESEARCH IMPACTS U N I V E R S I T Y

O F

C A L I F O R N I A ,

R I V E R S I D E

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PROMISE It’s about asking the right questions.


It’s about finding the right partner. It’s about providing real world solutions.


CHALLENGE

How does our immune system change as we age? Common viruses such as influenza and herpes zoster, more commonly known as shingles, afflict thousands of older individuals, significantly decreasing their mobility, quality of life and, in some cases, lifespan. Currently available vaccines are not always effective when administered to this fast growing population, and the mechanisms by which the immune systems of elderly patients respond to both the viruses and the medications used to treat them are poorly understood.

SOLUTION

By closely studying how the response mechanisms of the immune system change as

H E A L T H

we age, biomedical sciences expert Ilhem Messaoudi and her team are developing and testing a new generation of safer, more effective drugs designed specifically for use with older adults. Such research has the potential to reshape the experience of aging for both individuals and our society as a whole.

Ilhem Messaoudi

Associate Professor, Biomedical Sciences School of Medicine


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What’s the best way to outsmart kidney cancer?

According to the American Cancer Society, in 2014 more than 63,900 patients will be diagnosed with kidney cancer, and nearly 14,000 individuals will lose their lives to the disease. In the race to develop a more effective class of drugs for this specific disease, scientists need to better understand the function of the “proteasome,� a cellular complex in kidney cancer cells that breaks down proteins. Drugs that block the action of proteasomes are called proteasome inhibitors, and although they show promise for treating a variety of cancer cell lines, they currently prove ineffective at disrupting renal cancer cells.

While traditional cancer drugs have targeted just a few weak points in the cell, a new molecule (TIR-199) developed by UCR chemist Michael Pirrung selectively targets activity against renal cancer. The molecule tacks itself onto the proteasome, rendering it ineffective and thereby impeding the division of cancer cells. Following extensive testing for safety and effectiveness, the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health determined that the compound has excellent potential to be moved into the next stage of the drug development process.

Michael Pirrung

Distinguished Professor, Chemistry College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences

H E A L T H


CHALLENGE

What do video games have to teach us about brain health? Just as physical exercise plays an essential role in long-term health, so too the proactive cultivation of brain fitness is increasingly recognized as a key method of improving our well-being, productivity and lifespan as we grow and age. From the professional athlete trying to gain an edge by improving his vision, to the Alzheimer’s patient using puzzles to improve memory, to the police officer drilling new recruits to improve their safety and performance, the use of new brain-training techniques offer something for everyone. But with a slate of new products from which to choose, what approach is most effective?

SOLUTION

Imagine if you could improve your memory and sharpen your vision simply by using

H E A L T H

an app on your smartphone or tablet. Employing the latest innovations in psychology, neuroscience and video game technology, UCR neuroscientist Aaron Seitz is teaming up with colleagues to develop a series of scientifically optimized “Brain Games” that transfer such cognitive benefits to real-life activities. One recent product, dubbed ULTIMEYES, was tested with the UCR men’s baseball team, resulting in a remarkable 31 percent increase in visual acuity.

Aaron Seitz

Associate Professor, Psychology College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences


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Does the term “triple washed� on your bag of produce really mean that it is ready to eat? Each year, contaminated irrigation sources contribute to countless food-related bacterial outbreaks, often leading to expensive recalls, serious sickness and sometimes death. Even if only 0.1% of a crop is compromised, it may contribute to 99% of the resulting foodborne outbreaks. Produce can become tainted at almost any step from farm to table, including during growth, harvesting, rinsing, packaging, or retail processing. In addition to studying illness-causing pathogens like E. coli, scientists must also work closely with both farmers and policy makers to significantly improve the cleanliness and regulation of rinse waters used in irrigation and processing plants.

By studying the initial stage of contamination, the point at which a pathogen adheres to a leaf, as well as ways to improve municipal and agricultural wastewater management, UCR chemical and environmental engineer Sharon Walker is able to identify methods to prevent contamination from occurring in the first place. Walker’s lab analyzes every stage of the food production and distribution process, working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to better regulate land management policies, as well as specific harvesting and handling procedures that contribute to contamination.

Sharon Walker

Professor, Chemical/Environmental Engineering Bourns College of Engineering

P O L I C Y


SOLUTION

CHALLENGE

How can we better predict and prepare for the rapidly increasing number and severity of wildfires?

P O L I C Y

Our rapidly warming climate leads to much drier landscapes and more destructive wildfires for many regions. The way a fire moves and behaves depends on an array of different variables such as the terrain, environmental conditions and fuel sources. Scientists regularly study live fires during controlled burns, but they can never replicate the exact conditions of those burns. Wildfires are a complex phenomenon, which makes them very difficult to model and predict.

Working in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and local Fire Service officials, UCR mechanical engineer Marko Princevac uses a fire wind tunnel, which enables him to control conditions such as the fuel type, fuel moisture, wind speed, ambient temperature and ambient humidity. This allows his team to repeat experiments and determine exactly how each parameter is affecting the fire’s behavior. His research helps inform firefighting strategies as well as land use best practices and policies.

Marko Princevac

Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering Bourns College of Engineering


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How can we better protect ourselves from exposure to environmental toxins? We live in a chemical world. Everything we breathe, eat and drink is made up of chemicals. And while some of these chemicals are beneficial, or have little to no impact on humans, others are actually quite toxic. Despite these risks, only a fraction of the many chemicals we come into contact with in the air we breathe and in the everyday consumer products that we use have been thoroughly tested.

In 1986, the state of California passed the “Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act”—commonly known as Proposition 65. The goal of Proposition 65 is to place warnings on things to notify the public when they are exposed to chemicals which cause cancer, developmental or reproductive toxic effects. UCR toxicologist David Eastmond contributes his expertise to the Carcinogen Identification Committee, a group that evaluates chemicals to determine whether they should be placed on the list of chemicals known to the state of California as causing cancer.

David Eastmond

Professor, Cell Biology and Neuroscience College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences

P O L I C Y


SOLUTION

CHALLENGE

What effect does climate change have on evolution? When we think of evolution, we often think of how the world slowly developed into what it is today. But revolutionary research by UCR biologist David Reznick has fundamentally challenged our collective understanding of the scope and speed of evolution, proving that many species are changing quickly all around us. As the planet warms, organisms have only two options: adapt or go extinct. Over time, those plants and animals that do survive may be fundamentally different from what they were before, potentially impacting our food supply in significant ways.

Each year biologist David Reznick travels to the island of Trinidad to study evolution in natural populations of guppies. He examines many genetic and environmental variables, such as how the presence or absence of natural predators affects fish growth, procreation and maturation. Given that humans too are predators of fish species, his work has immediate implications for today’s commercial fisheries. Such research can help farmers, fishermen and those managing our planet’s natural resources to more quickly adapt and plan for rapidly evolving ecosystems.

S U S T A I N A B I L I T Y

David Reznick

Distinguished Professor, Biology College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences


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What’s needed to ramp up America’s alternative energy revolution? While Americans largely agree that the biofuels industry benefits our environment, economy and energy independence, public support for alternative fuels waxes and wanes with the volatility of oil and the price at the pump. This, combined with other factors, results in a very unstable environment in which to build a renewable energy business. In addition, the type of woods used as biomass to produce fuel contain a large percentage of lignin—a substance that gives plants their rigidity—which is extremely difficult to process and break down. How can we help industry leaders reduce costs by making their products in a less expensive way?

Biomass sources such as poplar wood and switchgrass are abundant and renewable because they come from non-food sources. With funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, UCR chemical engineer Charles Wyman is pioneering new approaches involving the pretreatment of biomass which softens the plant material so the sugars can be more quickly extracted and converted to energy. His research may soon enable companies to commercialize and profit from bioenergy crops with new products, such as engineered plastics, as well as with fuels produced at much lower cost.

Charles Wyman

Professor, Chemical/Environmental Engineering Bourns College of Engineering

S U S T A I N A B I L I T Y


CHALLENGE

Can one small pea help defeat global hunger?

For many people living in Sub-Saharan Africa, the humble cowpea plays a crucial role in their daily diet. This grain legume (also known as a blackeyed pea) is nutrient rich, but due to environmental stresses such as drought, pests and diseases, cowpea production in Africa is only performing at about twenty percent of its genetic potential. To improve food security for millions of families, African farmers need help to develop and produce new varieties of cowpea that resist these threats and result in higher yields.

SOLUTION

UCR leads the nation in cowpea research, innovating new ways to fast-track improvements in plant breeding programs. Thanks to $7 million in funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), UCR scientists Timothy Close and Philip Roberts work with partners in four West African nations, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal, to improve the nutrition and sustainable production of this essential crop. Rather than genetically modify cowpeas by manipulating genes in test tubes, they use marker-assisted breeding technology to expedite conventional breeding and speed up the production of new and improved varieties.

S U S T A I N A B I L I T Y

Timothy Close Philip Roberts

Professor of Genetics, College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences Professor of Nematology, College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences


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What can spiders teach us about nanofabrication? Scientists regularly borrow concepts from nature to invent new technologies, such as Velcro fasteners and sharkskin-surfaced swimsuits. The products themselves often depend on the creation of entirely new materials with enhanced properties such as strength, lightness and flexibility. The challenge lies in understanding how animals and plants respond to obstacles in their own environments, and then adapting those natural solutions to manmade problems.

By studying the elasticity, tensile strength, genetic structure and mechanical properties of spider silks, UCR biologist Cheryl Hayashi is helping biotechnologists develop a variety of new materials for industrial, medical and military applications such as super-strong body armor, specialty rope, and surgical microsutures. Her lab has shown that such properties result not just from the spiders’ spinning process, but also from the silks’ ancient protein structures handed down and modified genetically over hundreds of millions of years.

Cheryl Hayashi

Professor, Biology College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences MacArthur Genius

T E C H N O L O G Y


Can doctors physically peek into your brain without doing surgery?

SOLUTION

CHALLENGE

Laser-based treatments have shown significant promise for many debilitating and,

T E C H N O L O G Y

in some cases, life-threatening brain disorders. However, realization of this promise has been constrained by the need to perform one or more expensive and invasive craniotomies to access the brain since most medical lasers are unable to penetrate the skull. Physicians are seeking new, clinically-viable means for optically accessing the brain, on-demand, over large areas, and on a recurring basis, without the need to perform repeated surgeries.

UCR materials engineer Guillermo Aguilar and an interdisciplinary team of researchers have developed a novel, transparent cranial implant that literally provides a “window to the brain,� which they hope will eventually open new treatment options for patients with life-threatening neurological disorders, such as brain cancer and traumatic brain injury. The team’s implant is made of the same ceramic material currently used in hip implants and dental crowns, yttria-stabilized zirconia (YSZ). However, the key difference is that their material has been processed in a unique way to make it transparent.

Guillermo Aguilar

Professor, Mechanical Engineering Bourns College of Engineering


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Why settle for an artificial hip implant when you could grow a new hip instead? Today’s medical devices are used for everything from coronary stents to spine screws to hip implants. Many of the materials used to make them, such as titanium alloys or stainless steel, are non-degradable. Once a clinician has implanted one of these devices in the body, it remains there permanently unless the patient undergoes a secondary surgery to remove it. Unfortunately, many patients experience pain and complications when the devices eventually break down or become infected. They must also carry the burden of additional healthcare costs to remove or replace them.

With funding from the National Science Foundation, UCR bioengineer Huinan Liu is inventing an exciting new class of vitamin-based, bioresorbable materials that can be left in place after an initial surgery, then disappear after serving their functions. In addition to breaking down naturally in the body over time, such new materials can provide helpful nutrients to the body as they degrade, repairing damaged or injured tissues and facilitating in the healing process. There is a long list of potential applications for bioresorbable materials, including orthopedic implants, spinal implants, and cardiovascular devices.

Huinan Liu

Assistant Professor, Bioengineering Bourns College of Engineering

T E C H N O L O G Y


PARTNER WITH US

INVEST IN A SHARED FUTURE

In the quest for new knowledge, we welcome opportunities to partner with entrepreneurs, philanthropists, businesses, community leaders and fellow research enterprises. The Office of Research and Economic Development (RED) Through the Office of Research and Economic Development (RED), UCR is bringing advanced research from the lab to the marketplace while generating $1.4 billion in economic impacts. In FY 2013-14, we attracted approximately $111 million in research funding, including 806 contracts as well as receiving 19 new patents.

Partnership Opportunies Recruiting — Find our graduates seeking permanent employment opportunities or students looking for internships. Corporate Sponsored Research and Development— Fast-track your R & D through partnerships with research groups and/or individual faculty on specialized projects tailored to your interests and needs.

Advanced Facilities & Equipment — UCR research labs house a wide variety of advanced equipment which your company may access for a fee. Philanthropic Investment — Support UCR programs educating the next generation of corporate leaders and receive recognition for supporting UCR. Specialized Training — UCR provides an array of certificate programs and specialized classes that can be designed to meet your individual needs.

Research Funding Overview CHART Pie Chart of Contract and Grant Awards 2013/14

7%

5% 2%

9% 14%

63%

Services — UCR can assist your company in many ways including statistical analysis of data and teaching you to search for prior art in patents.

Federal $69.2 State $7.9

Industry $9.3 Non-Profit $15.9

Other Government $2.4

UC System $5.9

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TECH COMMERCIALIZATION SUCCESS STORIES

Anand Ray

Associate Professor Department of Entomology

DR. ANAND RAY (Associate Professor, Department of Entomology) and his team at UCR have identified both the CO2 and DEET odor receptors that guide insect-host and insect-insect interactions. This has led to the identification of numerous chemicals that interact with these receptors and the filing of multiple patent applications on the novel use of certain compounds as attractants and repellents of insects. Ultimately the research is expected to help reduce the more than 250 million humans infected by blood-feeding insects, as estimated by The World Health Organization (WHO) in 2010. ANASTASIOS I. MOURIKIS, an Associate Professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at UC Riverside has developed several inventions in the areas of Robotics and Computer Vision. In particular, his research focuses on vision-aided inertial navigation, estimation in mobile sensor networks, mobile robot localization, and simultaneous localization and mapping. The Office of Technology Commercialization has recently licensed a number of Professor Mourikis’ inventions to a company who will be commercializing his methods for 3d motion estimation in mobile devices.

DRS. EMMA WILSON (Associate Professor, Division of Biomedical Sciences), JACK F. EICHLER (Lecturer, Department of Chemistry) and colleagues have used a ligand to reduce tumor growth in animals with glioblastoma multiforme, an aggressive central nervous system (CNS) tumor. Mortality for glioblastoma multiforme patients is typically within one year or less. Wilson and Eichler showed that their ligand, which allows a metal atom to form complexes with numerous molecules, produced minimal pathology in healthy tissues and was more active in cell samples in vitro than conventional Temozolomide (TMZ) treatment. The team is now combining the ligand with conventional drug therapies as a promising treatment for CNS glioblastoma.

DR. MARY LU ARPAIA, is an avocado expert and cooperative extension subtropical horticulturalist in the Department of Botany and Plant Sciences. Dr. Arpaia’s group at UCR is currently testing several new varieties of avocado for possible release including the Bl516 ‘Marvel’ which shows promise as a useful pollinizing breed for both domestic and international growers.


CONTACT US Michael Pazzani Vice Chancellor, Research and Economic Development michael.pazzani@ucr.edu http://or.ucr.edu Tel: (951) 827-5535 Rebeccah Goldware Chief of Staff Research and Economic Development 900 University Ave. University Office Building, Ste. 205 Riverside, CA 92521 goldware@ucr.edu Tel: (951) 827-6411

UCR Office of Research and Economic Development www.or.ucr.edu UCR Office of Technology Commercialization http://or.ucr.edu/otc.aspx


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Living the Promise: 2014 Research Impacts  

How does our immune system change as we age? What’s the best way to outsmart kidney cancer? What do video games have to teach us about brain...

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