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Funding Update: Recent NSF Microarray Grants

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NSF Microarray Grants Awarded July 20, 2011 — Nov. 8, 2011

Development of SPR phase imaging and SPR diffraction methods for ultrasensitive microarray biosensing
Start date: Aug. 15, 2011
Expires: July 31, 2014
Awarded amount to date: $468,250
Principal investigator: Robert Corn
Sponsor: University of California, Irvine

The investigator aims to develop new instrumentation and methods for the label-free detection of biologically relevant molecules at low concentrations. Specifically, two new optical biosensing techniques are being developed: surface plasmon resonance phase imaging and optical diffraction methods from nanowire arrays, nanogaps, and nanostructured interfaces. The methods use the inherent refractive index of biomolecules as they bind to biosensor surfaces, and require both the implementation of high-fidelity surface chemistries for the fabrication of well-characterized bioactive nanostructured surfaces, and the creation of novel optical detection techniques such as SPR-enhanced phase gratings and optical diffraction. These biosensor surfaces will be used in conjunction with microfluidic microarrays to create a multiplexed biosensor format to detect and identify minute quantities of multiple DNAs, RNAs, and proteins at concentrations relevant for many biomedical applications such as the discovery of new cancer and cardiac biomarkers.


Gene expression patterns in high CO-adapted Trichodesmium
Start date: Aug. 15, 2011
Expires: July 31, 2012
Awarded amount to date: $48,955
Principal investigator: David Hutchins
Sponsor: University of Southern California

The team will use tiled microarrays to evaluate changes in the expression of both coding and non-coding regions of the genome in Trichodesmium cultures that have been maintained in high CO2 adaptation experiments. They seek to gain insights into adaptive changes in marine microorganisms such as Trichodesmium in response to selection by environmental change variables. The ultimate goal is to better understand ways that evolution could shape the responses of marine biota to future changes in ocean chemistry and climate.


Enzymatic detoxifying systems for diet-derived chemicals in herbivorous marine fish
Start date: Sept. 1, 2011
Expires: Aug. 31, 2013
Awarded amount to date: $106,317
Principal investigators: Jason Biggs
Sponsor: University of Guam

The investigators aim to characterize all genes expressed in the liver of S. spinus, a fish species that broadly represents chemically resistant tropical herbivorous fishes. These genes will be used to build a microarray chip to quantify changes in gene expression in response to differing environmental conditions. All gene sequences will be submitted to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. The investigators say the work will provide an opportunity to define diet-driven adaptive mechanisms in tropical herbivorous vertebrates and increase understanding of herbivore offense.


SERS based micro-sensor arrays for quantitative miRNAs detection
Start date: Sept. 1, 2011
Expires: Aug. 31, 2014
Awarded amount to date: $309,999
Principal investigators: Yiping Zhao
Sponsors: University of Georgia Research Foundation

The researchers aim to develop a new platform technology based on surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy for profiling of miRNA expression. They will rely on an internally developed nanofabrication method, oblique angle deposition, to reproducibly fabricate uniform silver nanorod arrays in large areas that enhance the Raman signal of the molecular signature of the analyte. In order to achieve high specificity, high sensitivity, and high throughput detections, the project will optimize the hybridization process, by integrating the chip with electric field concentration to reduce hybridization time and maximize hybridization efficiency and to improve the quality of the quantitative detection, and to demonstrate that the technology can detect and quantify miRNA isolated from cells.


Collaborative research: functional diversity of marine eukaryotic phytoplankton and their contributions to the C and N cycling
Start date: Jan. 1, 2012
Expires: Dec. 31, 2014
Awarded amount to date: $1,999,846
Principal investigators: Bess Ward and Andrew Allen
Sponsors: Princeton University and the J. Craig Venter Institute

The investigators plan to use diagnostic microarrays for eukaryotic phytoplankton community analysis based on functional genes and next-generation sequencing to identify the players, both in terms of community composition and activity, and to explore the functional diversity of the natural assemblage. In order to identify which groups are active in C and N assimilation and which N source is being used by the different size and functional groups, both filter-separated and flow cytometry-sorted samples will be used to measure 13C primary production and 15N assimilation by incubations with isotope tracers, measure the natural stable N isotope signatures of different taxonomic groups, and link the molecular diversity to the functional diversity in C and N transformations.

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