Research briefs

Tessier named Pew Scholar

Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering Peter M. Tessier was named a 2010 Pew Scholar in Biomedical Sciences in June. The Pew Scholars program provides funding to assistant professors who have shown exceptional promise in the field of health and biomedical research. The award grants Tessier $60,000 per year for four years.

Along with the Laboratory of Biological Interactions and Self-Assembly, Tessier has been researching causes of protein misfolding and aggregation and how folding defects can be prevented.

“Our work on resveratrol is based on our interest in understanding the biological properties of different protein conformations in diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease,” Tessier stated.

In May 2010, a paper was published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, where lab members discussed how an organic compound called resveratrol “selectively remodels” three of five protein conformers connected to Alzheimer’s.

RPI receives stem cell research grant

The Empire State Stem Cell Board of the New York Stem Cell Science Program awarded a $2.45 million grant to Principal Investigator and Director of Operations at the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies Glenn Monastersky.

The purpose of the grant is to further enhance RPI’s stem cell research programs in Biotech, such as the research Constellation in Functional Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine, by creating a world-class stem cell research center that will be widely available to stem cell researchers in New York state. A portion of the funds will specifically go toward finishing and equipping two spaces in the CBIS that will be “dedicated to stem cell research, which requires extremely careful and intensive laboratory effort,” Monastersky said.

RPI will also work with other sources of human stem cell lines such as the National Institutes of Health and those at other upstate universities and research institutions.

The research has applications in medicine, explained Monastersky. “The basic research in stem cell science that we envision will contribute to the future therapies and repair procedures for human disease and trauma.”

Professor awarded art grant

Associate Professor of Electronic Arts Kathy High has recently been named a fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. She was awarded a one-year grant of $35,000 to support her project, The Vampire Study Group, which investigates concepts such as life, death, and immortality, using various forms of media.

High was also an artist-in-residence at SymbioticA, a BioArt research center at the University of Western Australia “dedicated to the research, learning, critique and hands-on engagement with the life sciences,” according to its website. High has recently returned to SymbioticA for another residency in order to continue working on the projects she has developed as part of The Vampire Study Group.

High is also the founder of the 16-month BioArt Initiative at RPI, which began in March 2007. The purpose of the initiative was to merge electronic arts and biotechnological research and examine research practices in a “cultural context.” Inspiration for the BioArt Initiative came from the research and goals of SymbioticA, but additional models are being sought.