University of New England at Biddeford

Biddeford, ME, United States

University of New England at Biddeford

Biddeford, ME, United States

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University of New England at Biddeford | Date: 2016-09-22

Methods and diagnostic compositions for monitoring ER breast cancer are disclosed. In some aspects, a method for detecting ER breast cancer in a subject comprises obtaining a subject sample from a subject suffering from breast cancer; determining a level of NOHA in the subject sample; and comparing the level of NOHA obtained from the subject sample to the level of NOHA in a control sample, wherein a lower level of NOHA in the subject sample indicates presence of ER breast cancer in the subject.

Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: ERC-COG | Phase: ERC-CoG-2015 | Award Amount: 1.49M | Year: 2016

The project aims at developing a pioneering approach to the reception of Classical Antiquity in childrens and young adults contemporary culture. This newly identified research field offers valuable insights into the processes leading to the formation of the culture recipients identities along with their initiation into adulthood. However, the most vital potential of this phenomenon remains unexploited, for the research is still selective, focused mainly on Western culture. With my project, I intend to overcome these limitations by applying regional perspectives without the pejorative implication of regional as parochial or inferior. I recognize regions as extremely valuable contexts of the reception of Antiquity, which is not only passively taken in, but also actively reshaped in childrens and young adults culture in response to regional and global challenges. Thus, the essence of this innovative approach consists in comparative studies of differing reception models not only across Europe but also America, Australia & New Zealand and a bold but necessary step in parts of the world not commonly associated with Graeco-Roman tradition: Africa and Asia. The shared heritage of Classical Antiquity, recently enhanced by the global influence of popular culture (movies, Internet activities, computer games inspired by the classical tradition), gives a unique opportunity through the reception filter to gain deeper understanding of the key social, political and cultural transformations underway at various locations. The added value of this original research, carried out by an international team of scholars, will be its extremely broad impact on the frontiers of scholarship, education and culture: we will elaborate a supra-regional survey of classical references, publish a number of analyses of crucial reception cases, and prepare materials on how to use ancient myths in work with disabled children, thus contributing to integration and stimulating cultural exchange.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: MAJOR RESEARCH INSTRUMENTATION | Award Amount: 374.58K | Year: 2015

Across disciplines ranging from biomedicine to consumer electronics to national security, nanoscience is contributing to breakthroughs in science and technology. This Major Research Instrumentation award provides funds for the acquisition of an environmental atomic force microscope (AFM) called the Asylum Research Cypher ES, an extremely versatile, high-speed, high-resolution instrument for imaging, probing, and manipulating materials and processes in fluids at the nanoscale (billionths of a meter). University of New England (UNE) and regional university faculty, staff, and students in biology, marine science, chemistry, physics, and biochemistry will use this instrument to study a wide range of natural and engineered biomaterials. The instrument will enhance research productivity and provide students with valuable hands-on training on state-of-the-art microscopy techniques. UNE seeks to recruit a diverse and talented student population in one of the least ethnically diverse states in the country. The majority of UNE students are women, and many represent the first generation of their family to go to college. By reaching out to this underserved population the project will make a tremendous impact in providing high quality educational and professional training opportunities. To enable students to better appreciate relationships between biomaterials structure and function, the project will use 3-D printing to create models of nanoscale structures from AFM data that can be handled and touched. The integration of AFM and 3-D printing facilitates an especially exciting opportunity in the introduction of nanoscale structures and nanotechnology experimental techniques to people who are blind or visually impaired. The training takes advantage of a broad range of UNE faculty and staff expertise, including nationally-ranked institutional excellence in online education.

The Asylum Research Cypher ES environmental atomic force microscope (AFM) replaces aging hardware and complements modern imaging methodologies in the Microscope Core Facility (MCF) at the University of England (UNE). This microscope will increase research productivity and educational quality in Maine through provision of a unique regional environmental scanning probe microscopy resource. The Cypher ES will allow for the use of a wide variety of near field probing (ultra-high resolution, elastic, magnetic, electric and Kelvin probe forces) and fast scanning rates for diverse research questions including examining microbial biofilm and sheath formation, characterizing topographic and viscoelastic properties of environmentally-sensitive protein- and polymer-based nanomaterials, and exploring the architecture and composition of mineralized arthropod cuticle. The modular design of the instrument means that it is expandable to add new capabilities as needs arise. Training of UNE students, staff and faculty in AFM theory and practice will take place through a hybrid of online, face-to-face, and supplementary macroscopic 3-D printing instruction. The instrument will serve as an attractive tool to increase collaborative research, e.g., with colleagues at the University of Maine, Orono, and the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in Boothbay Harbor. This instrument will be a unique resource for biomaterials characterization in northern New England.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: Molecular Biophysics | Award Amount: 644.73K | Year: 2015

Proteoglycans are a major part of the biological glue that holds cells together in many different animals and in people. Proteoglycans also help cells to sense what is going on outside of them. Because proteoglycans are very flexible and difficult to isolate as pure samples, their structure has been difficult to study using regular experiments. Therefore, this project will apply cutting-edge physics-based computer modeling to proteoglycans. As a result, this project will increase the understanding of the normal growth and development of humans and many other animals. During the project, twelve early university students will be exposed to career paths in science, an advanced university student will receive both research and educational training, five elementary school teachers will receive training in modern computer tools for teaching science, and 500 fourth and fifth grade students from a diverse range of ethnicities and socio-economic backgrounds will receive enriched science teaching and interact with university students studying science.

The specific scientific goals of the project are to: (1) develop a high-precision public database of the conformational free energies for all carbohydrates found in proteoglycans to facilitate computer modeling; (2) understand the dynamics and thermodynamics of carbohydrate polymers and the non-covalent interactions between pairs of carbohydrate polymers as relevant to proteoglycans; and (3) transform the extracellular proteoglycan biglycan, the membrane-anchored glypican proteoglycan Dally-like, and fragments of the matrix proteoglycans aggrecan and versican into research platforms that reveal how interactions between protein, carbohydrate, ion, and lipid components affect the structure and dynamics, and therefore functions, of proteoglycans. Standard unbiased molecular dynamics simulations and enhanced sampling and free-energy methods including replica exchange molecular dynamics and Adaptive Biasing Force molecular dynamics will be used to meet these scientific goals, thereby contributing to an area where advancement has been hindered because of limitations in experimental approaches.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: MAJOR RESEARCH INSTRUMENTATION | Award Amount: 118.47K | Year: 2016

An award is made to the University of New England (UNE) in Biddeford, Maine, to acquire a FlowCam Imaging Particle Analysis System to strengthen instrumentation for multidisciplinary research and teaching at a primary undergraduate institution. The FlowCam system will allow multiple faculty to extend their current work to the plankton/particulate level, and/or start new plankton/particulate-oriented projects. The FlowCam will also be used in teaching of multiple classes in several departments, in local high schools, and will support undergraduate research projects in context of a current NSF IUSE grant. Every year more than 430 undergraduates in at least 7 courses at UNE and at least 120 high school students at 2 high schools will work on FlowCam projects.

Phytoplankton, zooplankton and detritus play important roles in the oceans food webs as primary producers and key food sources at the base of the food web. Including plankton/particulate-level analyses in studies on the reproduction of invasive species, fish diversity, bivalve feeding and growth rates and more will significantly increase our understanding of the respective processes and benefit several key local marine issues. Research projects will include such diverse areas as: interactions between two invasive crustacean crab species, a long-term biomonitoring study on phyto- and zooplankton, ichthyoplankton distribution and diversity in a small river plume, field investigations of the use of detritus by bivalves, plankton composition and structure in four lakes as it relates to climate change and watershed perturbations, and flow imaging technology for evaluation of elastin-like polymer coacervates.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: NANO-BIOSENSING | Award Amount: 38.27K | Year: 2016

Collaborative Project PI Halpern, Jeffrey M./Balog, Eva Rose M.

The purpose of this project is to develop a new method of measuring carotenoid rapidly in complex fluids. The approach proposed in this project has not been investigated previously and if successful, easy measurement will be possible benefiting society at large as increasing number of products enter the market place indicating high carotenoid levels in food and food supplements.

The objective of the proposed work is to develop a selective and sensitive biosensor using elastin-like polymers (ELP) and electrochemical detection. We focus on the detection of astaxanthin, an important antioxidants that has been difficult to detect selectively in serum. The goal of this EAGER proposal is to obtain preliminary data towards the development of a carotenoid sensor that is capable of rapidly measuring in complex fluids. The focus will be towards improving the understanding of (1) ELP response under electric field; (2) the electrochemical activity of surface-immobilized ELPs, and (3) introduction of analyte specificity via a modular fusion protein component. The expected results will lead to using engineered electrochemically-tagged carotenoid-binding elastin-like polymer fusion proteins to monitor astaxanthin in complex matrix. While protein-protein interactions and synthetic stimuli-responsive polymers have growing niches in sensing technology, the merits of both are uniquely combined in the proposed research. By conjugating an electrochemical tag to elastin-like polymers, their stimuli-responsive behavior should be detectable using voltammetric sensors. Stimuli-responsive behavior will be monitored by comparing the collapsed against the extended state of electrochemically tagged elastin-like polymers located on the sensor surface. Using electrochemically-tagged crustacyanin-elastin-like polymer fusion proteins, binding of astaxanthin will be monitored. Finally, specificity will be tested by measuring astaxanthin in a solution with multiple carotenoids (i.e. lutein and beta-carotene). There is public benefit in quantitative understanding of the role of carotenoids in human health. Better sensing technology is needed to create accurate basic biochemical research to investigate carotenoid uptake and promote healthy carotenoid levels. In addition, techniques developed in this project for carotenoids can be extended to other protein-analytes. The research project will be integrating University of New England and University of New Hampshire researchers in cross-disciplinary research with opportunities for all students. Open seminar at University of New England for the general community will be offered with presentations by the undergraduate students.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 639.25K | Year: 2015

STEM education is increasingly important for success in a society that depends on science and technology, but college students persistence in STEM programs of study, which are often dominated by traditional lectures and standard lab exercises, is generally low. Integrating undergraduate research opportunities into the curriculum has been shown to increase student learning and persistence. This project will implement an interdisciplinary curriculum that provides authentic research experiences for all STEM students in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of New England. The investigators will create a project-oriented learning experience using the local estuary of the Saco River by developing new course modules, stimulating undergraduate research projects, conducting an interdisciplinary conference focusing on the projects theme, and implementing targeted faculty development. The investigators will examine the extent to which the increased hands-on, interdisciplinary approaches to student learning lead to increased student retention and persistence in STEM.

Across all STEM departments in the college, at least 29 courses with an enrollment of more than 1,600 students will work simultaneously on assessing, monitoring, or modeling aspects of the Saco River estuary. Students will investigate urban, salt marsh, intertidal, and open water habitats and apply methods of ecology, physiology, molecular biology, botany, zoology, mathematics, chemistry, and physics. A central database and web portal will make the data available for interdisciplinary data mining within the university and by the public. The investigators aim to demonstrate that experiential learning based on Kolbs learning theory can deepen students understanding of the process of research as practiced by scientists in a long-standing NSF program, Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER). The activities will include working in groups to solve problems, using large data sets, and participating in the creation and sharing of data. Such an approach will also help students to comprehend science as more than rote learning -- as something that can be questioned and produced by them. Furthermore, the project will use place-based education to draw students into the project and into STEM. With this approach, (1) surrounding phenomena are the foundation for curriculum development, (2) students become creators rather than consumers of knowledge, (3) students questions are central in determining what is studied, (4) teachers act as experienced guides and co-learners, and (5) the wall between school and community becomes permeable and is crossed frequently. Through repeated exposure to place-based education over their four years at the university, undergraduates will gain progressive, in-depth experiences with STEM, which will enable them to connect the process of discovery with learning and knowledge creation and will prepare them to be leaders, teachers, and innovators.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 620.79K | Year: 2013

The Maine Mathematics and Science Scholars for School and University Collaboration Centered on Educating STEM Students (SUCCESS) Program is providing talented students majoring in applied mathematics, chemistry, biology, marine sciences, and environmental sciences at the University of New England (UNE) with four-year scholarships, education programs, mentoring, internship opportunities, and career counseling. The program has five primary objectives: 1) increase the number of meritorious students majoring in STEM programs; 2) provide scholarships to students interested in pursuing a STEM career who may otherwise not be able to attend UNE due to financial constraints; 3) retain STEM students to graduation; 4) develop sustained excellence in undergraduate STEM education; and 5) support SUCCESS Scholars with internships and career counseling. UNE chemistry/physics and mathematical science faculty and staff liaise with faculty and staff from targeted high schools to encourage talented STEM-bound students with demonstrated financial need to apply. The SUCCESS program also includes a weeklong summer bridge program consisting of coursework in mathematics, science, and English, as well as the Trailblazers program, which is designed to increase student appreciation of available natural and human resources and to establish rapport among the participants. Overall, the program facilitates SUCCESS Scholars ability to obtain local employment in STEM fields.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 417.79K | Year: 2013

In this Award from the NSF Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability Fellows (SEES Fellows Program) Dr. Carrie Byron from the University of New England will engineer new tools for sustainable management of resources and will examine synergies between coupled human-natural systems using a carrying capacity approach. This award is supported by the Directorate for Geosciences and the Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences.

The proposed work will (1) investigate the ways in which ecological- and social-carrying capacities can be quantified ; (2) investigate the feedbacks between ecological and economic systems; (3) study the mechanisms regulating ecological- and social-carrying capacity; and (4) explore if a carrying capacity concept can be used to promote sustainable management of natural resources in coastal ecosystems. Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island and Cobscook Bay, Maine will be used as sites in the study.

The aim of studies like that proposed in this work is to develop better methods for the management of natural resources.

Dr. Byron will be working with collaborators Prof. James Sulikowski of the Marine Science Center at the University of New England and Dr. Di Jin at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Instittuion; as well as Prof. Tracey Dalton in the Department of Marine Affairs, at the University of Rhode Island and Prof. Gayle Zydlewski in the School of Marine Sciences at the University of Maine. Dr. Byron will work with research students with her University collaborators and will disseminate the results of her work through scientific and public outreach.

This project is supported under the NSF Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability Fellows (SEES Fellows) program, with the goal of helping to enable discoveries needed to inform actions that lead to environmental, energy and societal sustainability while creating the necessary workforce to address these challenges. With SEES Fellows support, this project will enable a promising early career researcher to establish themselves in an independent research career related to sustainability.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: Cellular Dynamics and Function | Award Amount: 374.88K | Year: 2015

Understanding the dynamics of biomolecules at the cell surface, including how molecules move across the cell membrane, is crucial to the basic understanding of life processes. The cell membrane normally acts as a barrier that selectively limits what enters the cell. This project explores the mechanisms by which transporters, or large proteins that reside in the cell membrane, actively export substances across the cell membrane. Multiscale simulations are developed to predict molecular behavior of these transporters. The project provides undergraduate and high school students from underrepresented groups in rural Maine with training in the scientific method, computational analysis, and molecular science--approaches vital to further advances in knowledge and society. A weeklong summer workshop has been established to introduce Maine students to Unix programming and protein modeling. Student researchers are involved in carrying out all aspects of the research and receive advanced training in the theoretical foundations of statistical thermodynamics. Returning students acquire teaching experience by co-facilitating summer workshops, interactive biochemistry classes, and molecular visualization labs.

Experimental collaborators trapped the E. coli ABC transporter, MsbA, in distinct states of its conformational cycle, including open and closed inward-facing conformers and an outward-facing post-hydrolysis conformation. Paramagnetic spin label measurements subsequently confirmed the ATP-dependent alternating accessibility of the transmembrane protein chamber to the intra- and extracellular bilayer leaflets. This project connects these existing structural data with a functional picture of the dynamic molecular interactions that accompany protein conformational cycling and couple ATP hydrolysis to substrate translocation. Consistent with the Integrating Across Scales priority of the Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences, a multiscale description is developed from atomistic simulations to simulate the dynamics of a large molecular machine residing in its lipid bilayer environment. The role of annular phospholipid solvation on translocation of the flippases lipid substrate is specifically explored. The force field lipid and protein parameter set created by the project is not limited to transporters and is of general utility for simulations of membrane protein systems, their diffusive dynamics, and molecular interactions. Undergraduate and high school students from underrepresented groups are incorporated and trained in the foundations of computational science.

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