Villanova, PA, United States

Villanova University

www.villanova.edu
Villanova, PA, United States

Villanova University is a private university located in Radnor Township, a suburb northwest of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the United States. Named after Saint Thomas of Villanova, the school is the oldest Catholic university in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.Founded in 1842 by the Order of Saint Augustine, the university traces its roots to old Saint Augustine's Church, Philadelphia, which the Augustinian friars founded in 1796, and to its parish school, Saint Augustine's Academy, which was established in 1811. U.S. News and World Report lists Villanova as a "more selective" regional university and ranks it as the best regional university in the North. Barrons lists Villanova as most selective. Wikipedia.

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Patent
Temple University and Villanova University | Date: 2016-05-05

The present disclosure provides an antimicrobial composition including a polycationic amphiphile compound, and the method of making and the method of using such a compound or composition. The compound having the formula R_(1), R_(2), R_(3), R_(4), R_(5), R_(6), R_(10), or R_(11 )is H or a C_(1-12 )alkyl unsubstituted or optionally substituted with a functional group such as OH, OR, NH_(2), NHR, NC(O)R, NC(O)CRCR, SH, SR, OC(O)R, C(O)R, CF_(3), OCF_(3), halogen, benzyl, o-vinylbenzyl, m-vinylbenzyl, p-vinylbenzyl, phenyl, allyl, and substituted allyl. R_(7), R_(8 )or R_(9 )is a C_(1-12 )alkyl unsubstituted or optionally substituted with a functional group such as OH, OR, NH_(2), NHR, SH, SR, OC(O)R, C(O)R, CF_(3), and OCF_(3). R is H or a C_(1-4 )alkyl. X or Y is a halogen. m and n are integers in the range from 1 to 25.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: STTR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 124.59K | Year: 2016

Woven TPS (WTPS) is an attractive option for thermal protection because it allows for a design to be tailored to a specific mission ? material composition can be adjusted by weaving different fiber types together and controlling their placement using computer-controlled, automated, 3D weaving technology. NASA?s HEEET program is responsible for the development of WTPS, with the objective of enabling a broad range of missions. With complex material systems such as WTPS, there exists a need for in situ Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) capability designed to diagnose and report any degradation in the capability of the structure. The primary objective of the proposed effort is to leverage MR&D?s micromechanics-based Program Suite to interpret measured temperature and strain data derived from fiber optic sensors that are structurally integrated in a 3D woven composite panel. Specifically, measured strains at the constituent level will be used to compute a local stress state in several 3D woven composite test specimens under a variety of thermal and structural loads. Measured temperature data will dictate which temperature-dependent constituent material properties to use in the micromechanics model. The proposed research offers a software solution for providing a physics based interpretation of sensor data acquired at the constituent level of a 3D woven structure and computes an effective composite level response for the purposes of evaluating structural health in near real time.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: Biodiversity: Discov &Analysis | Award Amount: 312.69K | Year: 2016

Angola is among the largest countries in Africa, and its landscapes vary from arid desert to equatorial rainforest. This landscape diversity results in high, but poorly documented, levels of biodiversity in many groups, including amphibians and reptiles. This project will increase understanding of the diversity and evolution of Angolas amphibians and reptiles by analyzing species distributions, abundances, genetics, and anatomy. Based on these data, undocumented species will be identified, characterized and formally described. Two major hypotheses will be tested: whether arid-adapted species of S.W. Angola are descended from East African ancestors that migrated during periods of dry climate, and whether species restricted to the Angolan highlands are ancient descendants of formerly widespread ancestors. Researchers will also test how climate factors affect the degree to which malaria-causing parasites specialize on particular lizard species. This project will also train students in field and laboratory methods, as well as data dissemination and analysis. Public outreach efforts will include development of short video documentaries and English- and Portuguese-language guides to Angolas amphibians and reptiles.

Surveys of the Angolan herpetofauna will be informed by current knowledge gained from the less than 8,000 specimens that currently exist in museums worldwide. A total of six expeditions throughout Angola will be undertaken over a period of three years, with each focusing on a region identified as poorly sampled based on the provenance of extant museum specimens or as key sampling areas for addressing taxonomic problems. Specimens obtained in survey efforts will be subjected to collection and analysis of ecological, genetic, and morphological data. Molecular systematic analyses of the genetic data will identify cryptic species and targeted high-throughput sequencing will be used to test biogeographic hypotheses. Morphological data collection will include external morphological examination as well as high-resolution CT scanning to identify diagnostic internal anatomical features of species under study. Ecological niche modeling of species ranges will be used to explore patterns of faunal turnover and identify conservation priorities. All biodiversity data generated in the course of the project, including point localities, DNA sequences, and CT scans, will be made available to the broader scientific community. Results of the research will be disseminated in numerous publications focused on taxonomic revision, biogeography, morphological diversity, and/or parasite evolutionary ecology of the Angolan herpetofauna.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: Systematics & Biodiversity Sci | Award Amount: 173.61K | Year: 2016

This research will synthesize all data available about the evolutionary relationships, paleontology, and diversity of geckos, a group of more than 1600 lizard species with a worldwide distribution in warm-climate areas. The researcher will use the pattern of relationships among geckos revealed by the synthesis to interpret the evolution of ecological, behavioral, physiological, and other traits of geckos. The project will make previously unpublished raw data available on publicly accessible websites and will result in publication of a comprehensive book describing the diversity and comparative biology of geckos. The project will identify avenues of research in evolutionary biology for which geckos are an ideal model system and will serve to guide the future research of students and others. This project will contribute to the professional development of Biology undergraduates and Masters students at a primarily undergraduate institution by providing opportunities for participation at all levels of the research underlying this project. It will also interface with a traveling museum exhibit aimed at the general public, and children in particular, that uses geckos to promote the understanding and appreciation of global biodiversity.

Data relating to the genealogical, spatial and temporal relationships within Gekkota (paleontology, morphology, allozymes, mtDNA, multigene data (Sanger and Next Generation sequencing, karyology, etc.) will be evaluated, synthesized and the sources of conflict considered. Data gathered over three decades will be compiled from published papers as well as unpublished projects. These data will be combined into new, expanded matrices and analyzed using a diversity of widely employed phylogenetic methods. The PI will assess data quality, the strength of the phylogenetic signal, and in the case of conflicts among datasets, will identify probable causes and provide the rationale for a preferred interpretation. Available biological data will be analyzed in the context of the phylogenies generated using either formal methods (e.g., ancestral state reconstruction of traits of interest, either across the entire tree or some portions thereof), or, if data are too incomplete for this, they will be assessed qualitatively. Knowledge gaps will be identified and research priorities will be selected to both close these gaps and pinpoint evolutionary questions for which geckos would be especially good systems, thus facilitating comparative biological investigations of the group by a broad spectrum of researchers.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: Molecular Biophysics | Award Amount: 411.38K | Year: 2015

Effect of Substrate Polyubiquitination on Proteasomal Unfolding Ability

The proteasome is a molecular machine inside cells that removes unwanted or unneeded proteins by unfolding them, feeding them into a central chamber, and then chopping them up into small pieces that can be recycled. Proteins destined for destruction are tagged with a chain composed of multiple copies of a small protein called ubiquitin. In this research project, the investigator will examine the relationship between how ubiquitin chains are connected and the ability of the proteasome to unfold the ubiquitin-modified protein targeted for degradation. The work will lead to a better understanding of why some proteins are degraded and others are spared, and have broad impact on the understanding of cellular processes. Many undergraduate and masters students will work on this project and thereby enhance their critical thinking and scientific inquiry skills, which will serve them well as they go on to careers in medicine, industry, academia or other fields. The investigator will work with Villanovas Center for Multicultural Affairs to increase the involvement of students from underrepresented groups in both this and other research experiences. He will also work to develop an inquiry-based lab class for students, which will help to expose students who do not do independent research to a research-type setting.

The 26S proteasome is responsible for the bulk of intracellular protein degradation in eukaryotes. While most substrates are degraded into small peptides, some slippery substrates are only partially degraded, with the released fragments taking on new cellular functions. The overall goal of research in the Kraut lab is to better understand the molecular basis of proteasomal processivity and its regulated failure, and to examine the relationship between the specific residues of ubiquitin attachment, unfolding ability and protein degradation. The hypothesis underlying this project is that polyubiquitin chains increase the unfolding ability of the proteasome, even after the chains have been removed from the substrate. Preliminary evidence suggests that chains linked through K48 of ubiquitin lead to more processive degradation with less release of partially degraded fragments than K63-linked chains, indicating that polyubiquitination does affect unfolding ability, and helping to explain why K63-linked chains normally dont lead to degradation in the cell. The project will focus on determining how ubiquitin chains communicate with the motor proteins that grip the substrate during unfolding and degradation by determining which components of the proteasome are required for enhanced processivity and how different types of ubiquitin chains affect the speed with which the proteasome unfolds and degrades its substrates or instead releases them. The investigator has established a processivity assay that measures the ability of the proteasome to unfold protein domains well after degradation is initiated, and enables analysis of the underlying kinetics of unfolding and degradation versus release. This assay, using multiple substrates and proteasome mutants, will be used to probe the mechanism by which K48-linked chains activate unfolding after a substrate is already undergoing the degradation process.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: BIOTECH, BIOCHEM & BIOMASS ENG | Award Amount: 500.00K | Year: 2017

PI: Elmer, Jacob
Proposal No: 1651837

The goal of this project is to improve gene therapy by identifying and modifying the genes involved in the immune response to extraneous DNA in several cancer cell lines. Such an approach is expected to enhance gene delivery by inhibiting the target genes with both small molecule inhibitors and inhibitor proteins.

A somatic cells first line of defense against viral infection is the innate immune response (IIR) consisting of several enzymes and receptors that actively seek out pathogenic molecules within the cell. Activation of the IIR by cytoplasmic DNA can then induces inflammation, inhibits protein translation, and even cause the host cell to self-destruct. While all of these reactions defend the cell from viruses, they can significantly hinder gene therapy. Indeed, most gene therapy treatments deliver therapeutic DNA to the cytoplasm, where it unintentionally activates the IIR. The goal of this project is to improve gene therapy by addressing this problem. We will begin by identifying the exact proteins and genes involved in the innate immune response to cytoplasmic DNA in a variety of cancer cell lines. Gene delivery will then be enhanced by inhibiting those genes/proteins with small molecule inhibitors and/or viral inhibitor proteins. As an alternative to inhibition of the IIR, transgene expression will be increased by using promoters that are known to be activated by the IIR. Altogether, these experiments will simultaneously improve gene therapy and increase our understanding of the innate immune response to cytoplasmic DNA. In addition, this project will also include a series of year-round outreach activities that will directly benefit the community. For example, the PI will organize an outreach program that enables underrepresented high school students to perform gene delivery and biochemical engineering experiments at Villanova. The PI will also create a summer research experience program for high school teachers that allows them to perform gene therapy experiments in the PI?s lab and then share those experiences with their classes in the fall semester. Finally, each of the experiments conducted in this project will also be recorded and used to create educational/training videos.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: BIOMEDICAL ENGINEERING | Award Amount: 300.00K | Year: 2016

1645225 - Elmer

Leukemia causes thousands of deaths every year. A promising new treatment called CAR-T cell therapy has been shown to effectively treat acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). In CAR-T cell therapy, T cells (a special type of white blood cell) are extracted from the patient and reprogrammed. They are then re-injected into the patient to seek out and destroy cancer cells. While this treatment has been shown to be highly effective, the techniques used to extract, reprogram, and grow the T cells are prohibitively expensive and time consuming. The goal of this project is to develop new technologies that will streamline every step in CAR-T cell therapy. The first objective is to develop novel membranes to help isolate T cells from a patients blood. Then, an efficient genetic engineering technique to reprogram the isolated T cells will be optimized. Finally, methods will be developed to accelerate the growth rate of the engineered T cells. Optimizing these steps will significantly decrease costs and time required for CAR-T cell therapy, thereby enabling this powerful new treatment to help more cancer patients. The equipment purchased for the project will be used in demonstrations for undergraduate and graduate courses as part of learning modules that discuss CAR-T therapy. Each of the experiments conducted will be recorded and used to create instructional videos that will be posted online and used to train new students on advanced laboratory techniques.

Reprogramming T cells with chimeric antigen receptors (CAR) enables them to find and destroy cancer cells. This technique has been used to effectively eliminate cancer cells in leukemia patients. However, current methods to isolate, transform, and expand the CAR-T cells are prohibitively expensive and time consuming. The goal of this project is to streamline and simplify every step in T cell biomanufacturing. T cell isolation will be streamlined by developing novel polyethersulfone membranes with immobilized antibodies and/or other ligands that selectively capture naïve and central memory T cells (since these phenotypes are more effective for immunotherapy). Membranes will be modified to isolate transfected T cells and to activate T cells. T cell transfection will be enhanced by optimizing a CRISPR/Cas-mediated transfection strategy that does not require electroporation and can be done in situ in the bioreactor. CRISPR/Cas will be used to integrate and co-express the CAR with membrane-bound avidin for transfectant isolation. T cell expansion will be optimized by varying culture conditions in a WAVE bioreactor and using a perfusion filter with immobilized anti-CD3 and anti-CD28 antibodies for T cell activation. Culture conditions (cytokine composition/concentration) will also be adjusted to maximize the number of T cells with the naïve/central memory phenotype (i.e. minimizing the effector T cell phenotype). Together, these steps will yield a novel T-cell biomanufacturing system that will allow the user to easily isolate, transfect, and expand T cells inside a bioreactor with attached membrane cartridges. This system will be designed to have lower costs and shorter expansion times than bead-based technologies. Its closed nature and plug-and-play cartridge connections may eventually allow it to be used inside a hospital, thereby avoiding transportation, storage, and other logistical issues. In addition to the improvement of CAR-T cell therapy, several other new insights and advances may also come out of the project. For example, the transfection of T cells will be enhanced by co-administering inhibitors for several different proteins in the innate immune system. The results of these studies may reveal which of those proteins are specific to T cells and why the efficiency of CRISPR/Cas genome editing is relatively low in T cells. In addition, the WAVE-ATF system will be used to investigate how shear levels affect T cell activation. This work will also determine whether culture conditions in the bioreactor influence differentiation of T cells to naïve, central memory or effector memory T cells, which could be used to minimize differentiation to the effector memory T cell subset that is less desirable for immunotherapy.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: SYMBIOSIS DEF & SELF RECOG | Award Amount: 117.03K | Year: 2016

Amphibians (frogs, toads, salamanders) are central members of many biological communities. As tadpoles, they consume vegetation in streams and ponds, and as adults, they consume large numbers of insect prey. They, in turn, are eaten by snakes, birds and small mammals. Thus, the balance of many ecosystems depends on amphibians. Currently, nearly one third of amphibian species worldwide are at risk for development of a fungal skin disease that has driven more than 150 species into extinction. Fungi that cause disease have complex interactions with their hosts, and host immune defenses generally keep them in check. However, many pathogenic fungi have developed immune evasion strategies. This project will investigate the mechanisms used by a pathogenic fungus to impair the immune system. It will examine the chemical nature of factors released by the fungus that inhibit lymphocytes. If the factors are novel, they may be developed as therapeutic agents to control immune disorders. Success in this investigation will greatly advance our understanding of the specific mechanisms that are used by this fungus to evade immune clearance and may suggest novel virulence mechanisms used by other pathogenic fungi that affect humans.

Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) is a skin fungus that is one cause of worldwide declines and extinctions of amphibians. Fungi that infect vertebrates have complex interactions with their hosts, and host immune defenses generally keep them in check. However, many pathogenic fungi have developed immune evasion strategies. This project will investigate the mechanisms by which Bd inhibits lymphocyte functions. Investigators and students at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Villanova University, and Gwynedd Mercy University will investigate the immunotoxic molecules produced by Bd and a second amphibian fungus, Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans. The objectives are to isolate and characterize immunomodulatory and cytotoxic molecules produced by pathogenic Bd strains responsible for chytridiomycosis; (2) to further examine the mechanisms of immune system evasion by Bd, the subsets of lymphoid cells affected, and to determine whether other non-lymphoid cells are targets of Bd factors; (3) to determine whether Batrachochytrium from different geographic locations and with differing genetic makeup vary in their metabolic profiles and production of molecules toxic to lymphocytes and other cells.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: EARS | Award Amount: 650.00K | Year: 2015

This EARS (Enhancing Access to the Radio Spectrum) program was founded in response to the 2010 Presidential Memorandum on Unleashing the Wireless Broadband Revolution mandated by Congress as part of the National Broadband Plan. It was referenced in 2010 State of the Union and later on the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (More than 1/3 of the bill deals with radio spectrum), the PCAST 2012 Report [Presidents Council of Advisors on Science and Technology] (which calls for vastly increased use of spectrum sharing) and the 2013 Presidential memo (Expanding Americas Leadership in Wireless Innovation). The aim of this program is to identify bold new concepts with the potential to contribute to significant improvements in the efficiency of radio spectrum utilization, protection of passive sensing services, and in the ability for traditionally underserved Americans to benefit from current and future wireless-enabled goods and services. The impact is large on the economics of the Nation as seen on the last FCC bidding of 65MHz of the spectrum for over $45 billion early in 2015. It will enable access to science, engineering, industry, civilian and military users of the radio frequency (RF) spectrum.

Demand for wireless broadband has soared due to technological innovation, such as 4G mobile services, and the rapid increase in wireless internet. This demand would require the utilization of frequencies over a bandwidth that has been traditionally slated for radio telescopes. This frequency infringement may interfere with reception and interpretation of astronomical data and, as such, compromise the search and discoveries of extraterrestrial intelligence. The project puts forward coexistence strategies where wireless users cause minimum interference to astronomical observations.

The project aims at achieving the coexistence strategies by developing interference mitigation techniques that factor in the high-elevation of the look direction of the telescope compared to low-elevation angles of signals emitted by base-stations and wireless systems. A co-existence strategy calls for authorized broadcast stations and wireless transmitters to cooperate with radio telescopes by reporting their locations and providing properties of their signal structures. Prior knowledge of interference location simplifies its nulling and removal by telescope array of multiple units. On the other hand, the distinction in signal characteristics between astronomical events and those of digital communications enables effective cooperative as well as non-cooperative interference identification and suppression. The project has the potential to advance spectrum sharing and utilization and therefore enhance the future capacity for U.S. industry and academic institutions in this area of research and development.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: S-STEM:SCHLR SCI TECH ENG&MATH | Award Amount: 571.09K | Year: 2015

This project is reaching out to under-prepared statistics instructors in the nations community college system to provide them with modern content and the ability to teach it using evidence-based teaching methods. The statistics instructors in community colleges often lack sufficient resources or connections to take advantage of all that is offered by the growing statistics education community. At the same time, the explosive growth in everyday use of statistics places a great burden of responsibility on statistics educators. Statistical literacy is vital for engaged and active citizenship. Leaders in the statistical community have identified educating educators as a critical need for the near future. Statistics education researchers have developed theoretically grounded and evidence-based pedagogical practices that can strengthen present and future teachers.

The approach being taken in this project is to pair 72 community college instructors in need of professional development with 12 established statistics educator mentors across 4 regional hubs. The mentors will help these instructors gain both content knowledge and the ability to use current best evidence-based practices in their teaching. These practices are consistent with the Guidelines for Assessment and Instruction in Statistics Education. The instructors will participate in two expert-led workshops each year, will meet in monthly professional learning communities through which mentors will promote interaction and peer-learning, and will be integrated into the statistics education community. The project will also integrate these community college instructors into the national statistics education communities through the US Conference on Teaching Statistics, online connections, and conferences. The project is creating mentoring relationships and professional learning community programs.

The regional hubs and mentoring relationships created by this project will provide ongoing opportunities for community college instructors to interact with the growing statistics education community that is dedicated to quality statistics education. The effectiveness of this approach to propagating best practices will also be carefully studied as part of the project. The project will examine whether this approach can become a foundation for future regional and national collaborative projects. By providing professional development opportunities beyond the abilities of most community colleges, this project could affect new and continuing faculty members for many years to come. It is creating both the social interactions and the structure needed to sustain these endeavors beyond the time frame of the grant.

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