Dallas, TX, United States
Dallas, TX, United States

Southern Methodist University is a private research university in University Park, a separate city inside the borders of Dallas, Texas. Founded in 1911 by the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, SMU operates satellite campuses in Plano, Texas, and Taos, New Mexico. SMU is owned by the South Central Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church. 6,300 of the University's 10,800 students are undergraduates. Wikipedia.

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Pinkham A.E.,Southern Methodist University
Journal of Clinical Psychiatry | Year: 2014

The topic of social cognition has attracted considerable interest in schizophrenia over the last several years. This construct generally refers to the detection, processing, and utilization of social information and, within the field of schizophrenia, includes several skills such as recognizing emotion, understanding the thoughts and intentions of others, and interpreting social cues. Individuals with schizophrenia show significant impairments in social cognition, and these impairments are strongly related to functional outcome. Treating social cognition yields significant improvements in real-world outcomes, including social functioning and social skill. Importantly, social cognitive abilities are linked to specific neural circuits that have been shown to be abnormal in individuals with schizophrenia. Investigations of these neural networks in patients have also demonstrated that brain activation is significantly correlated with social functioning, which suggests that abnormal activation in social cognitive networks may serve as a mechanism for social dysfunction in schizophrenia. Among the many challenges in this area is the issue of measurement. There is disagreement about which tasks best measure social cognition and many existing measures show poor psychometric properties. A recent project, called the Social Cognition Psychometric Evaluation (SCOPE) study, aims to address these problems by providing the field with a well-validated battery of social cognitive tasks that can be used in treatment outcome trials. Research is honing in on the potential mechanisms of social cognitive impairment in patients, and with improved measurement, there is promise for optimizing behavioral and pharmacologic interventions and remediation strategies. © Copyright 2014 Physicians Postgraduate Press Inc.

Matyjaszewski K.,Carnegie Mellon University | Tsarevsky N.V.,Southern Methodist University
Journal of the American Chemical Society | Year: 2014

This Perspective presents recent advances in macromolecular engineering enabled by ATRP. They include the fundamental mechanistic and synthetic features of ATRP with emphasis on various catalytic/initiation systems that use parts-per-million concentrations of Cu catalysts and can be run in environmentally friendly media, e.g., water. The roles of the major components of ATRP - monomers, initiators, catalysts, and various additives - are explained, and their reactivity and structure are correlated. The effects of media and external stimuli on polymerization rates and control are presented. Some examples of precisely controlled elements of macromolecular architecture, such as chain uniformity, composition, topology, and functionality, are discussed. Syntheses of polymers with complex architecture, various hybrids, and bioconjugates are illustrated. Examples of current and forthcoming applications of ATRP are covered. Future challenges and perspectives for macromolecular engineering by ATRP are discussed. © 2014 American Chemical Society.

Ritz T.,Southern Methodist University
Journal of consulting and clinical psychology | Year: 2013

This review examines the evidence for psychosocial influences in asthma and behavioral medicine approaches to its treatment. We conducted a systematic review of the literature on psychosocial influences and the evidence for behavioral interventions in asthma with a focus on research in the past 10 years and clinical trials. Additional attention was directed at promising new developments in the field. Psychosocial factors can influence the pathogenesis and pathophysiology of asthma, either directly through autonomic, endocrine, immunological, and central nervous system mechanisms or indirectly through lifestyle factors, health behaviors, illness cognitions, and disease management, including medication adherence and trigger avoidance. The recent decade has witnessed surging interest in behavioral interventions that target the various pathways of influence. Among these, self-management training, breathing training, and exercise or physical activation programs have proved particularly useful, whereas other essential or promising interventions, such as smoking cessation, dietary programs, perception and biofeedback training, and suggestive or expressive psychotherapy, require further, more rigorous evaluation. Given the high comorbidity with anxiety and mood disorders, further evaluation of illness-specific cognitive behavior therapy is of particular importance. Progress has also been made in devising community-based and culturally tailored intervention programs. In concert with an essential medication treatment, behavioral medicine treatment of asthma is moving closer toward an integrated biopsychosocial approach to disease management.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: Physiolg Mechansms&Biomechancs | Award Amount: 363.17K | Year: 2016

Squids and cuttlefishes are impressive swimmers, having the ability to hover, change direction rapidly, and even swim forward and backward with ease. The key to their locomotive prowess is coordination among their pulsed jet, flapping fins, and flexible arms, but little is presently known about how these units work together throughout these animals lives as they encounter different physical environments, change developmentally, and experience dissimilar ecosystems. This project focuses on understanding how the jet, fins, and arms operate in concert to produce the necessary forces for exceptional turning, both in terms of muscle capabilities and hydrodynamics, in squid and cuttlefish of different developmental stages (hatchlings to adults). This work will involve cutting edge 3D flow visualization approaches, high-speed video analysis, and advanced mathematical tools that highlight the essential components of high-performance turns. This project promises to (1) advance our understanding of how highly maneuverable marine animals navigate through their complex habitats and (2) reveal key performance characteristics, structures, and behaviors that can be integrated potentially into the design of mechanical bio-inspired systems, such as autonomous underwater vehicles, to improve their turning/docking capabilities. This project incorporates a number of outreach projects, including demonstrations in local schools, participation in robotics competitions, development of web-based tutorials and summer camps, and presentations at aquariums and museums.

Maneuvering in the aquatic environment is a significant component of routine swimming, with proficient maneuvering being essential for predator avoidance, prey capture, and navigation. Despite its importance, understanding of the biomechanics of maneuvering behaviors is limited. An investigation of maneuvering performance in three morphologically distinct species of cephalopods is proposed here. The investigation explores three broad questions: (1) how are the fins, arms, and funnel-jet complex used in concert to maximize turning performance in adult cephalopods; (2) do the relative importance of turning rate and turning radius change over ontogeny and are fewer turning modes observed in young cephalopods; and (3) do fin, arm, and funnel musculoskeletal mechanics change over ontogeny and are such changes associated with differences in maneuvering? These questions will be addressed by collecting measurements of 3D high-speed kinematics and 2D/3D hydrodynamics of wake flows; performing mathematical analyses to quantitatively identify and categorize turning patterns; and measuring both the dynamic passive and active length-force relationship and maximum shortening velocity of muscle fibers that drive the movements used during turning and jet vectoring. The proposed work will: (1) provide data on how an ecologically important marine animal coordinates its novel dual-mode system (jet and fins) and arms to achieve high turning performance, (2) highlight the essential kinematic and hydrodynamic elements of turns, (3) offer insights into how maneuvering capabilities change over a broad ontogenetic range, and (4) provide novel data on the muscle properties of muscular hydrostatic organs and their role in turning.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: NANOMANUFACTURING | Award Amount: 146.93K | Year: 2016

The sequence of bases on deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) strand determines an individuals hereditary traits and his or her susceptibility to diseases. This sequence can be used to tailor conventional therapeutic approaches and deliver more personalized medicine based on an individuals genetic makeup. Solid-state nanopores and nanochannels present a new paradigm for DNA sequencing and can make sequence determination faster and cheaper than the currently used methods. However, these nanoscale tools have not been able to achieve the necessary control and reproducibility required for large-scale commercial applications. This award supports fundamental research for the development of an integrated nanoscale architecture that can harness the merits of both the solid-state nanopores and the nanochannels for controlled DNA analysis. The new platform will accelerate DNA sequencing research and has the potential to make personalized medicine a clinical reality. This research will also provide a rich foundation for teaching, training, and learning and open a new window to manufacturing and metrology at nanoscale. The program will also have extensive outreach component, including active recruitment and training of women and underrepresented minorities in engineering,

Nanopore sensors are poised to revolutionize DNA sequencing technology by obviating the need for chemical conversion and synthesis and by use of long read lengths. However, fast DNA translocation speed and low signal-to-noise ratio present scientific barriers that need to be overcome to realize the full application potential of these sensors. The objective of this research is to demonstrate enabling technologies necessary to design, fabricate, and assemble integrated nanoscale architecture for studying DNA translocation through nanopores, as well as to understand fundamental scientific principles that govern the translocation of long DNA molecules (>100 kb) using simultaneous electrical and optical signal readout. Results of this research will bring about a novel bioanalytical platform that can be used to capture comprehensive genetic data with high temporal resolution. In this research, an integrated nanochannel-nanopore device will be designed and fabricated, wherein nanochannels will be used to unravel the long coiled DNA and feed the stretched molecules into the nanopore, which in turn will be used to discern the structural features of the DNA. The understanding of underlying physics of nanopore translocation of long DNA strands and the ability to control this translocation dynamics will help to realize nanopore based DNA sequencers.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: Dynamics, Control and System D | Award Amount: 169.49K | Year: 2016

This EAGER project will create an innovative system to allow medical professionals to use their sense of touch to explore data obtained from ultrasound imaging scans. Physicians routinely rely on palpation during physical examination, exploring the size, location, and mechanical response of organs or body parts with their hands and fingers. The high-resolution, three-dimensional images produced by sophisticated imaging systems are essential tools in modern medicine; the results of this project will enable diagnosticians to interactively touch, feel, and manipulate objects in these images. The project entails the integration of a recently developed ultrasonic imaging methods with a glove-like interface that will use pneumatic actuators to accurately simulate the mechanical response of the imaged tissue. The project will benefit public health through early and accurate detection of cancerous tumors, and reduction of unnecessary, invasive biopsies.

The mechanical properties of an abnormal growth may be important in determining whether it is cancerous. Combining speed-of-sound measurement, which correlates to bulk modulus, and elastography, which correlates to shear modulus, allows estimation of the local elasticity tensor at each point in the imaged region. This project will create a pneumatically actuated haptic device for the hands and fingers, that uses this data to accurately simulate the feel of physical palpation. This mode of data display emulates the process of physical examination, and is thereby naturally leverages basic medical training, rather than requiring new, counter-intuitive, skills to interpret an artificial visualization. The project will establish whether adding this haptic feedback to existing diagnostic scans will lead to better diagnostic outcomes. The EAGER project will include extensive evaluation of the ability of the device to convey subtle and diagnostically relevant differences in the mechanical properties of soft tissue.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: Systems and Synthetic Biology | Award Amount: 342.03K | Year: 2016

Plants evolved in response to advantageous and deleterious environmental variables, such as light, temperature, moisture and the threat of pests. To counteract daily stresses, and to maximize energy storage during the day, plants developed complex regulatory circuits that can predict daily (circadian) and seasonal (photoperiodic) rhythms, thus providing an evolutionary advantage and improved organism fitness. As such, plant circadian rhythms control all facets of plant growth and development, including flowering times, photosynthesis, latitudinal species distribution, and resistance to drought, cold and pests. It is estimated that greater than one third of all plant genes are under circadian control and that proper day-length measurements are imperative to the maintenance of plant growth, reproduction and crop yields. How these circadian clocks measure and adapt to a wide array of environmental signals is poorly understood. This is particularly the case for adaptation to daily and seasonal variations in the quality and quantity of environmental light. The current proposal aims to use a multidisciplinary approach to model how plants sense and adapt to changes in the intensity of blue-light in a given environment. Aside from gaining fundamental understanding of the chemical processes that govern plant photobiology, the project is likely to provide new avenues to improve crop yields and biomass production for renewable energy, and develop novel varieties of plants that are more drought and pest resistant. The project will provide unique training opportunities for undergraduate students and outreach to local science teachers and K-12 students.

How Light-Oxygen-Voltage proteins integrate environmental cues is poorly understood. The proposed research leverages recent discoveries of new signaling mechanisms that delineate adaptive responses to environmental stimuli. The concerted chemical, biophysical and synthetic biology approach will provide quantitative understanding of adaptive responses in complex signaling networks. The primary technical objectives are three fold. 1) A combination of chemical kinetics and predictive mathematical models will be developed to gain a systems level understanding of Light-Oxygen-Voltage protein function in seasonal and daily clocks. A direct result of these efforts will be a detailed understanding of how multiple chemical inputs to Light-Oxygen-Voltage protein function dictate signal transduction and optogenetic tool development. 2) The project will use the new understanding of Light-Oxygen-Voltage protein signaling networks to design synthetic gene circuits in mammalian cells, and thus enable the testing of the understanding of the network in the absence of extraneous plant proteins that may affect signal transduction. 3) The ultimate goal is to combine this understanding to guide the construction of new Arabidopsis thaliana strains that exhibit altered circadian function and plant flowering periods to demonstrate how Light-Oxygen-Voltage protein chemistry is essential for triggering systems-level adaptive changes in a plant system.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: COMPUTATIONAL MATHEMATICS | Award Amount: 199.99K | Year: 2016

The PI will study mathematical models which describe the swelling and shrinking of fluid-saturated, elastic, porous media (elastic solids) and the interactions between the fluid and the elastic porous structures. The significance of the research is due to the fact that many natural substances, e.g., rocks, soils, and even biological tissues, as well as man-made materials such as foams, gels, concrete, and ceramics are such elastic porous media. Thus, research findings will be applicable in a multitude of areas (biomechanics, pharmacology, energy technology, geomechanics, geophysics, and materials science). The models developed can be used to describe various man-made materials and manufacturing processes. They can also be used to model the biomechanics of soft tissues and biological porous media, enabling the modeling and optimization of new therapies, development of new diagnostics tools, and advancing our understanding of human physiology. This research will also improve our capability to model, analyze, and assess the environmental impact of processes associated with hydraulic fracturing, wastewater injection, and carbon capture and storage, and activities associated with production of geothermal energy. Graduate and undergraduate students will be trained and will participate in the work. Research findings, and experience from it, will be incorporated into the graduate and undergraduate curricula.

This research focuses on mathematical and computational issues arising in continuum models of poroelasticity and electroporoelasticity. These provide a unified and systematic treatment of various porous materials and processes which arise in diverse areas of science and engineering and a variety of applications. Additional physical phenomena, such as the electromechanical response of the medium, as well as chemical and/or thermal effects, may also be accounted for. Thus, poroelasticity, electroporoelasticity, or even electro-chemo-thermo-poroelasticity, are all complex coupled, multiphysics, multiscale, phenomena, where the swelling and shrinking of an elastic or viscoelastic deforming porous medium is coupled to the electromechanical (and/or the thermal, and chemical) response of the medium and saturating fluid. Poroelasticity also involves multiple scales; the micro-scale corresponding to the molecular scale, and the scale of continuum mechanics, the macro-scale. The PI will develop mathematical and computational tools and study, analytically and computationally, various mathematical problems arising in poroelasticity. Among the issues considered will be the well posedness of mathematical pde models and the derivation and analysis of efficient and accurate numerical algorithms for approximating solutions of these partial differential equations.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: Dynamics, Control and System D | Award Amount: 289.43K | Year: 2016

This project will demonstrate the use of rotating magnetic fields to propel and steer magnetic microswimmers for medical applications such as drug delivery. Unlike previous work in this area, this project considers swarms of microswimmers instead of single vehicles, and allows fluids with non-ideal behavior characteristic of, for example, mucus. The results will be experimentally validated using a controllable synthetic biofluid. The results will guide future development of control systems for microrobotics, and advance towards practically controllable magnetic microswimmers in vivo. A complimentary outreach program will provide and cultivate a unique, interdisciplinary training environment for K-12, undergraduate and graduate students, exploiting eye-catching microswimmer control, drug delivery, and haptic devices.

The PI has recently demonstrated that achiral magnetic rigid geometries are capable of propulsion when rotated by a magnetic field. This project builds upon that demonstration, by formulating the motion control problem in the setting of stochastic differential equations, in order to create a stochastic control system for 3D motion and swarm control of magnetic microswimmers. Motion control of microswimmers is accomplished with magnetic control and computer vision feedback. Notably, variations in the physical parameters of the individual microswimmers will be leveraged to address uncertainty in the fluid environment. The approach will be used to formulate control and coordination schemes for the motion of a large number of microswimmers in heterogeneous 2D and 3D workspaces, using motion planning and control frameworks that address issues such as controllability and optimality. The results will be experimentally validated in a non-Newtonian fluid with controllable parameters that simulates a biological environment.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: Biomechanics & Mechanobiology | Award Amount: 314.52K | Year: 2016

Tiny lipid sacs, called liposomes, play a crucial role in living cells as means to store and transport material in and out of the cell. The key task of liposomes (storage and delivery to targets) requires them to be flexible enough to merge with target membranes in order to deliver their cargos, and yet to have sufficient structural stability to maintain integrity without rupturing and losing the stored material in the naturally dynamic biological environments. Therefore, understanding the mechanics of liposomes is of great interest to both fundamental and applied scientists who are developing artificial, biomimetic liposomes as targeted drug/gene delivery systems for better therapeutics. A major challenge however, is the lack of efficient engineering tools to probe the mechanical flexibility of the sub-cellular, nanoscale liposomes. The research addresses this need by developing a novel method based on nanopore technology that uses electric fields to deform liposomes and electrical measurements to characterize their shape. The overall goal is to characterize the mechanical flexibility of nano-liposomes with the ultimate goal to establish a method to study mechanical properties of nanoscale objects such as viruses and other biological samples at cellular/molecular level.

This project will advance the engineering tools for mechanical characterization of soft biological materials at the micro/nanoscale. The technology uses nanopore resistive pulse sensing to detect membrane deformation. As liposomes translocate through a nanopore, they experience strong electric stresses and physical confinement, which cause deformation. In this project, liposome shapes will be inferred from ionic current blockade, i.e., the sharp change (pulse) in ohmic resistance when a liposome is present in the pore. A theoretical model for liposome deformation in the nanopore will be developed to yield membrane mechanical properties. The method will enable both high-throughput and single-particle resolution because (1) thousands of liposomes pass through the nanopore and a resistive pulse will be recorded for each individual one, and (2) thousands of measurements on a single liposome can be made by alternating the applied electric field direction to drive back-and-forth translocation. In broader terms, this method will enable studying mechanobiology at novel unprecedented scales, which is single-virus and single-particle level.

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