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2018-2019 Research Incubator Awards Announced

Innovative projects involve Duke faculty from 11 departments in 3 schools

Six interdisciplinary Duke faculty teams have received 2018-2019 Research Incubator Awards from the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences (DIBS). The awards provide seed funding to support collaborative brain science research for projects of exceptional innovation and broad significance to the field.

Picture of a seed
Incubator awards encourage growth of innovative, collaborative research

The projects must engage at least two faculty representing multiple fields or levels of analysis and bring together investigators from across Duke whose individual programs of research are not already connected.

“These outstanding teams will investigate a wide range of topics in innovative and collaborative ways,” said Geraldine Dawson, PhD, Chair of the DIBS Faculty Governance Committee and Director of the Duke Center for Autism and Brain Development. “We are excited to see the results of this research and the new collaborations that will emerge from it.”

The teams represent 11 departments in three schools: Biostatistics & Bioinformatics, Molecular Genetics & Microbiology, Neurobiology, Ophthalmology, Pediatrics, Pharmacology & Cancer Biology, and Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, from the School of Medicine; Biomedical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science, and Electrical & Computer Engineering, from Pratt School of Engineering; and Psychology & Neuroscience from Trinity College of Arts & Sciences.

This year’s research topics include the sense of smell and copper metabolism, sleep rhythms and their relationship to health, neuron specialization, brain states as assessed by real-time analysis of neural activity, and early language development in the visually impaired. Each team will receive $100,000.

External Advisory Board Honors Memory of Julie Rhodes with 6th Award

For the second year, the DIBS External Advisory Board members voted to fund an award in addition to the five supported by DIBS funding. This year’s sixth award honors the memory of Julie Rhodes, the first DIBS Director of Communications. A talented graphic designer and communicator, Rhodes was instrumental in the planning and opening of the new DIBS “Cube” and underground space. She died August 17, 2018.

The project led by investigators Mike Tadross, Biomedical Engineering and Neurobiology, and Kafui Dzirasa, Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, was selected by the board. This project will examine the mechanism by which ketamine alleviates depression, in an effort to identify new therapeutic approaches. “We are very grateful to the Board members for their contributions to this valuable program, and for honoring Julie Rhodes, who was an extraordinary contributor to the success of the Institute,” said Nicole Schramm-Sapyta, PhD, DIBS Chief Operating Officer, who worked closely with Rhodes.

Earlier this year, DIBS announced recipients of its inaugural Research Germinator Awards, designed to support smaller, targeted requests for training, pilot data, salary and/or equipment that would facilitate new research and lead to new external funding. Projects are awarded up to a maximum of $25,000 (non-renewable). These awards are open to Duke graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and faculty, and may be applied for by a single person or by a team. Please click HERE to see the Germinator teams and projects.

“One of our strategic priorities is catalyzing collaborative research,” Dawson said. “These awards programs help support the kind of high-risk, high-reward projects that make Duke and DIBS leaders in neuroscience.”

Following is more information on the six 2018-2019 Research Incubator Awards teams and projects:

Picture of Incubator Awards Grid