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Posted: December 21, 2007

Grants help UNCG shape state's economic future

(Nanowerk News) Three faculty members have won more than $850,000 in grants from the University of North Carolina system for research projects with the potential to create jobs and promote economic development.
Overall, the university system awarded more than $3.8 million to 18 projects at 13 universities. University of North Carolina Greensboro (UNCG)’s winners and their projects are:
  • Dr. Nadja Cech, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, $363,846 for “Production of Echinacea with Optimal Bioactivity: Improving Market Value of an NC Crop.” Researchers will identify anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties in echinacea and then develop growing strategies to optimize those properties. Collaborating partners are UNC-Asheville and NC State University.
  • Dr. Yousef Haik, Center of Research Excellence in Nanobiosciences, $200,000 for “Rapid Assessment of Food Allergens and Allergy Biomarkers.” Researchers will develop a medical device to detect human allergens using saliva samples and identify allergens in consumable food products. Collaborating partners are NC A&T and LeBauer Health Care.
  • Dr. Parke Rublee, Department of Biology, $292,010 for “Integration of Novel Technologies for Safeguarding Potable Water.” This project will integrate two water-monitoring capabilities for municipal water supplies and provide early warning systems related to water quality. Collaborating partner is NC State.
  • The awards allocate $3 million appropriated by the NC General Assembly earlier this year for university-based research on North Carolina’s economic future, along with other University funds, to a series of proposals that will create new ideas and jobs in biotechnology, nanotechnology, optics, health care, natural products, environmental science and marine science.
    “The university [system] is committed to playing a critical role in helping to imagine and shape the state’s economy,” said Steve Leath, UNC vice president for research. “These grants will help us, in collaboration with local and state agencies and private businesses, to do the kind of research that will improve existing products and processes and create new innovations that will fuel our future.”
    The grant recipients were chosen from 35 proposals and leverage more than $4.4 million in private and federal funding. The nine “lead” campuses receiving grants include UNCG, Appalachian State, East Carolina, NC A&T, NC Central, NC State, UNC-Chapel Hill, UNC Charlotte, and UNC Wilmington. Faculty at UNC Asheville and Western Carolina, as well as several community colleges and private universities, will also play key roles.
    The awards coincide with the completion of a months-long series of forums asking people across the state what they believe they need from the university system over the next 20 years. Earlier this month, the UNC Tomorrow Commission released draft recommendations, including strong support for more direct university involvement in shaping the state’s economic future.
    Source: Hercules Incorporated
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