Colgate Researchers Awarded Picker ISI Grants

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The Picker Interdisciplinary Science Institute (Picker ISI) has announced its 2020 grant awards, supporting interdisciplinary approaches in innovative research. The awards bring together Colgate faculty and other researchers with complementary expertise to open new areas of study and to tackle existing problems in creative ways.

This year, Picker ISI made two project awards:

Jacob Goldberg, assistant professor of chemistry, and collaborator Thanos Tzounopoulos (University of Pittsburgh) will receive $134,000 for their project “Chemical Probes for Synaptic Zinc.” Goldberg and Tzounopoulos will develop and prepare a new generation of small-molecule sensors that will be used to detect and quantitate zinc ions in the brain.

Using these and other tools, the research team will investigate the role of zinc ions in fine-tuning neurotransmission, sound processing, and sound frequency discrimination in mammalian auditory circuits. The findings from this project will allow for a deeper understanding of the fundamental biology of normal hearing and of such pathological states as hearing loss, tinnitus, and schizophrenia.

Meanwhile, Bineyam Taye, assistant professor of biology, and Ken Belanger, professor of biology, along with collaborators Julian Damashek (Utica College) and Zeleke Mekonnen (Jimma University, Ethiopia) have been awarded $149,000 for their project titled “Understanding gut-microbiome interactions following mass deworming against soil-transmitted helminths (STHs) among young Ethiopian schoolchildren.”

The project will study the microbial communities (microbiomes) present in the gastrointestinal tracts of Ethiopian children who are or are not infected with parasitic roundworms, and then examine the changes in the gut microbiome that occur upon treatment with anti-parasitic drugs. The goal is to understand how alterations in the gut microbiome in children impact other health and developmental outcomes.

The Picker Interdisciplinary Science Institute supports internal and external collaborations among faculty who bring expertise from different disciplines to bear on current and emerging scientific problems that remain intractable to the methods used within a single discipline. The institute also encourages interdisciplinary approaches to student learning through innovative curricular and investigative opportunities that may arise from the pursuit of interdisciplinary research projects.

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