Five interdisciplinary Ohio State research teams have been awarded approximately $200,000 each in Catalyst grants through the President’s Research Excellence (PRE) program in the 2023 cycle. PRE Catalyst grants support cross- and interdisciplinary teams to pursue large-scale, high-impact research that addresses emerging or existing challenges of national and international societal importance. This year's grants address research in aging, cancer, energy and sustainability.

“When we invest in some of our own most promising research as a university, other funders take notice,” said Dorota Grejner-Brzezinska, vice president for knowledge enterprise. “Programs like this help further attract partners and funding, supporting the passions of our researchers and accelerating that work where it can impact lives.”

Ohio State has invested nearly $4.3 million to 48 teams of Ohio State investigators through the PRE program since its inception in 2021.

The PRE program is still accepting proposals for Accelerator grants in the 2023 cycle. Accelerator proposals of up to $50,000 are reserved for small teams formed to pursue curiosity-driven, novel, high-risk and high-reward research. These proposals are due May 5. Learn more and apply on the Office of Knowledge Enterprise website.


2023 Catalyst Grant Recipients


A Novel Electrons-to-Chemicals Process to Produce Greener Value-added Chemicals

Lead PI: Umit Ozkan (College of Engineering) 
Co-investigators: Seval Gunduz (College of Engineering), Yehia Khalifa (College of Arts and Sciences) 
Research topical area: renewable energy, smart grid, energy storage 
Project description: Electrocatalytic oxidation offers an alternative for producing light olefins from an abundant source, shale gas. This process, when coupled with renewable energy sources, will have a minimum carbon footprint and lend itself to a distributed olefin production strategy, including on-board production.             


Artificial Metalloenzymes for the Sustainable Production of Renewable Fuels: Conversion of Solar Energy and Plant Waste to Hydrogen and Ethylene by Microorganisms

Lead PI: Justin North (College of Arts and Sciences) 
Co-investigators: Patrice Hamel and Hannah Shafaat (College of Arts and Sciences), Ajay Shah (College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences) 
Research topical area: renewable energy, smart grid, energy storage 
Project description: This project will engineer industrially scalable biological systems for the renewable conversion of sunlight, CO2, and agricultural biomass into hydrogen and ethylene by photosynthetic algae and bacteria. Hydrogen and ethylene are commodity chemicals and emerging fossil fuel replacements for energy.      


Biomimetic and microfluidic technologies to identify and target dormant disseminated tumor cells to improve cure rates in invasive lobular breast cancer

Lead PI: Bhuvaneswari Ramaswamy (College of Medicine) 
Co-investigators: Eduardo Reategui (College of Engineering), Xiaoli Zhang and Daniel Stover (College of Medicine), Sarmila Majumder (Health Sciences) 
Research topical area: cancer science and engineering, immunology and therapeutics 
Project description: Invasive lobular cancer of the breast has poor prognosis due to drug-resistance and delayed recurrence caused by dormant disseminated tumor cells (DTCs). Using in vivo and in vitro biomimetic and microfluidic tools, we propose to identify the DTCs, their dormant signature and test a novel therapy.       


Industrial food processing waste valorization using electro-fermentation

Lead PI: Katrina Cornish (College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences) 
Co-investigators: Beenish Saba (College of Engineering), Ann Christy and Thaddeus Ezeji (College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences) 
Research topical area: novel social science research concepts that address societal challenges related to food, water, health, racial equity and inclusion, and national security 
Project description: The proposed electro-fermentation process will convert industrial food processing waste into valuable products.  This carbon capture and waste valorization technology will lower greenhouse gas emissions, reduce industrial food waste, and provide a model which may be applicable to household waste.


Psychological Stress, Bone Health, and Aging

Lead PI: Do-Gyoon Kim (College of Dentistry) 
Co-investigators: Beth Lee (College of Medicine), John Sheridan (College of Dentistry) 
Research topical area: aging, healthy aging 
Project description: This work will initiate novel studies on the interactions between psychological stress, inflammation, and skeletal health in young and elderly patients. The ultimate goal of this proposed work is to determine whether drugs to treat osteoporosis may also alleviate anxiety, depression, and PTSD.