2023 President’s Research Excellence Accelerator grants awarded

Eight interdisciplinary Ohio State research teams have been awarded approximately $50,000 each in Accelerator grants through the President’s Research Excellence (PRE) program in the 2023 cycle.

PRE Accelerator Grants

PRE Accelerator grants of up to $50,000 are reserved for small teams formed to pursue curiosity-driven, novel, high-risk and high-reward research. This year's grants address research in aging, neurology, RNA and gene therapy. 

Ohio State has invested approximately $4.6 million in 56 teams of Ohio State investigators through the PRE program since its inception in 2021.

“Over the past two years, PRE-funded teams have made discoveries that are attracting the attention of funders and peers across the nation,” said Dorota Grejner-Brzezinska, vice president for knowledge enterprise. “In fact, Xia Ning’s research on using artificial intelligence to improve drug discovery that was funded by the program has already been published in Communications Chemistry.”


2023 Accelerator Grant Recipients

Uncovering a conserved role of cell polarity signaling in cellular aging using budding yeast and hematopoietic stem cell models
Lead PI: Hay-Oak Park (Arts and Sciences)
Co-investigators: Brad Blaser (Medicine) and Yoonkyung Lee (Arts and Sciences)
Research topical area: cellular aging, cell asymmetry
Project description: This proposal explores the interplay between conserved cell polarity signaling and aging by single-cell imaging and single-cell transcriptomics. Through the team’s interdisciplinary expertise, the project will address how Cdc42 and its effectors control lifespan in yeast and hematopoietic stem cells.

High-throughput screening of FDA-approved drug collection that enhances WFS1 against Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias
Lead PI: Hongjun Fu (Medicine)
Co-investigators: Blake Peterson (Pharmacy) and Meng Wu (Health Sciences)
Research topical area: Alzheimer's disease, drug discovery
Project description: The project will describe and validate a phenotypic screening strategy to identify small molecules that enhance the level of human WFS1 and consequently promote tau clearance. The candidate small molecules or FDA-approved repurposed drugs will be further validated and modified for the treatment of AD and ADRD.

Accelerated brain aging and pathology following head trauma in intimate partner violence 
Lead PI: Jasmeet Hayes (Arts and Sciences) 
Co-investigators: Julianna Nemeth, Rachel Ramirez (Public Health) and Jun Zhang (Medicine)
Research topical area: chronic brain injury and domestic violence
Project description: Head trauma from domestic violence is an understudied problem, despite the known link between traumatic brain injury and dementia. This study will use neuroimaging techniques to examine whether women with such head injuries show neurodegenerative pathology compared to those without head injury.

Biophysical action and RNAi activity of microRNA in the heart
Lead PI: Jidong Fu (Medicine) 
Co-investigators: Kotaro Nakanishi (Arts and Sciences) and Vidu Garg (Medicine)
Research topical area: microRNA, biophysical modulation, heart disease
Project description: The team recently unveiled an evolutionarily-conserved novel biophysical action of microRNAs beyond the classical RNAi mechanism and the project will investigate the molecular mechanisms and specific physiological significance of the biophysical and RNAi actions of microRNA in heart development and diseases.

Novel gene therapy to prevent or reverse inner ear damage from noise and ototoxic chemotherapy
Lead PI: Eric Bielefeld (Arts and Sciences) 
Co-investigators: Jerusha Naidoo and Yin Ren (Medicine)
Research topical area: gene therapy, hearing
Project description: oise- and cisplatin-induced hearing losses affect millions of people worldwide. This project will use a novel gene therapy approach to help protect the inner ear from noise or cisplatin damage and promote hearing recovery after injury.

The development of an Ovine model of thoracoabdominal endovascular aortic surgical repair (TEVAR)-induced spinal cord hypoperfusion and paralysis 
Lead PI: Hamdy Elsayed-Awad (Medicine)
Co-investigators: Esmerina Tili, Ahmed Aly (Medicine) and Brad Youngblood (Veterinary Medicine)
Research topical area: paralysis, spinal cord injury
Project description: Aortic repair patients can suffer paraplegia after surgery. The lack of animal models of TEVAR and of spinal cord tissue from patients has limited the understanding of the molecular malfunctions leading to paralysis. This project will establish a model of TEVAR to discover and test future therapeutics.

ML-powered self-administered tool for early detection of cognitive impairment
Lead PI: Xia Ning (Medicine) 
Co-investigators: ouglas Scharre (Medicine) and Kathy Wright (Nursing)
Research topical area: cognitive assessment, health disparities
Project description: The goal is to develop a novel and translational tool for a more accurate, early-stage prediction of individuals who are developing cognitive impairments, and make it accessible to and useful for all individuals, including those socioeconomically disadvantaged, AD-vulnerable populations.

Determining the role of microglial cells in the progression of traumatic brain injury
Lead PI: Cole Vonder Haar (Medicine) 
Co-investigators: Jonathan Godbout, Olga Kokiko-Cochran (Medicine) and Kathryn Lenz (Arts and Sciences)
Research topical area: brain injury, RNA sequencing
Project description: This project will use single nucleus RNA sequencing to determine the transcriptional profile of neurons after traumatic brain injury. The team will directly manipulate microglial cells after brain injury, a potential contributor to chronic neural dysfunction and neuropsychiatric impairments.