Oklahoma Innovations - OCAST's Official Newsletter
SEVEN QUALIFY, OCAST PLANT SCIENCE RESEARCH PROGRAM
Seven researchers, representing the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma, collectively were awarded $655,509 for up to two years of research.
Officials at the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology said the winning applicants were chosen from a field of 31. Independent peer reviewers approved another 20 applicants for funding; however, the agency has money only for the first seven ranked projects.
All seven of the awarded contracts represent basic research.
Plant science research targets those research activities occurring in higher education, nonprofit research institutions and private enterprises. The projects have potential commercial application and concern plant productivity, renewable biomass, plant-based environmental applications and chemical platforms, plant-based solutions to improve nutrition, human and/or animal health or performance, process applications and seed management and the development of new products and services that shall form the basis of new, high-technology plant science/ agriculture industry for Oklahoma.
Successful applicants include:
- Rujin Chen, Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation. Title: Elucidating the regulatory mechanism controlling dissected leaf architecture in Medicago truncatula. This research project aims to find the regulatory mechanism that controls the structure of dissected (compound) leaves and growth of petioles in Medicago truncatula for improvements in alfalfa as a forage legume. Knowledge gained from this project may lead to improvements of elite alfalfa cultivars for high density production and improved profitability for farmers and ranchers. Award: $100,000
- Jerome Verdier, Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation. Title: Functional genomics of legume seed size/yield. Food security is a major issue and legumes rank second only to cereal grasses in importance to humans as a source of food, feed for livestock and raw materials for industry. This project aims to functionally characterize four independent mutant lines displaying significant changes in seed size. Benefits could include increased seed yield, with proteins, lipids or health-promoting secondary metabolites stored in legume seeds. Award: $95,500
Genomics and Genetics
- Laura Bartley, University of Oklahoma. Title: Systems analysis of cell wall remodeling during grass lateral root emergence. This research is an attempt to identify the cell wall and transcriptional changes that occur to permit lateral root emergence in rice. Findings could impact the production of cereals in agriculture, possibly through lower input cropping. Award: $99,983
- Rakesh Kaundal, Oklahoma State University. Title: iPMNET – A bioinformatics system for predicting genome-wide plant-microbe interactions network. The purpose of this proposal is to develop a bioinformatics-based system, including a visualization tool, for predicting a genome-wide plant-microbe interactions network. These represent destructive pathogen-induced diseases which cost the U.S. $33 billion each year. This project will help in the plant-microbe protein-protein interactions prediction process. Award: $100,000
- Ramamurthy Mahalingam, Oklahoma State University. Title: Role of RNA binding protein AtRBP45b during abiotic stresses. Abiotic and biotic stresses cause nearly a 60 percent reduction in yields of crop plants. It is thought that gene expression in response to various stresses of plants is a factor in crop yield issues. This researcher has identified a sub-family of Arabidopsis RNA binding proteins that are induced during oxidative stress. The goal is to understand the precise role of AtRBP45b during stress signaling. The overall research could prove to be a vital contribution for enhancing food security in the context of global climate change. Award: $100,000
- Niels Maness, Oklahoma State University. Title: Extracting value from eastern red cedar foliage. The project goal is to evaluate eastern red cedar and its leaves as a source of phytochemicals, in order to build value for removal of the species from Oklahoma lands. Scalable phytochemical extraction alternatives and yields for essential oils, oleoresin oils and podophyllotoxin (a cancer drug precursor) could provide the financial backing to better control of eastern red cedar, long considered an undesirable plant for farmers and ranchers. Award: $99,282
Whole Plant Physiology
- Michael Smith, Oklahoma State University. Title: Pecan kernel necrosis – Finding the cause. Necrotic lesions at the basal (stem) end of Pawnee pecan kernels is a serious problem limiting the marketability of a popular cultivar grown in Oklahoma. The necrosis was first thought to be limited to the Red River basin in Oklahoma; however, it has spread as far away as the Rio Grande Valley near El Paso. Investigating five different approaches, this research will attempt to find the cause of the necrosis and develop a solution. Award: $60,744
OCAST CONTINUES TO MOVE TOWARD AN ONLINE APPLICATION PROCESS
OCAST successfully completed its inaugural round of electronic applications with 31 research groups applying for plant science awards online. This was the first step for the organization as they move towards a paperless model. With the launch of its online application process, the organization’s goal is to make applying easier for researchers and save the organization money in paper, shipping and personnel costs.
The seven plant science award recipients will be the first to test the next phase of the online process, the award management portion. In this phase, award recipients can check status of the award, track award payments and date of payments. Brad Sutherlin, contracts compliance officer for OCAST, said the software will also provide reporting capabilities not easily accessed before.
“In the past, if a researcher wanted a status report, it was a lengthy process involving up to three different departments,” said Sutherlin. “Then someone would spend time gathering the information and creating an individual report.”
Now, clients can build a report at their convenience. The software is flexible enough that a variety of reports are available. “It is up to our imagination as to what type of report we want to configure,” said Sutherlin.
The online application process titled OKGrants started with the plant science program because it encompassed elements of all other grant applications. Sutherlin said the next e-application implemented will be the Oklahoma Applied Research Support (OARS) funding cycle. He anticipates the OARS software development time to be cut in half.
“With the plant science program, we were developing the right pieces as they were needed. The process took a year because we beta-tested each section to make the application as user-friendly as possible,” said Sutherlin. “By retooling the process based on feedback, the OARS application will be ready in six months.”
In the next four years, OCAST plans to implement all five of its funding programs online, saving the organization and researchers time and money. The estimated annual cost savings with the online application process is $20,000 per program, equaling up to $100,000 a year when all five programs are in OKGrants.
When fully implemented OKGrants will help OCAST manage the entire life cycle of a grant funding opportunity, decreasing the time between the submission and awarding of grants.
“This is such a big departure for us. We used a paper application process for 20-plus years, and in a matter of one year, we have turned it on its head,” said Sutherlin. “It comes with challenges, but the upside is enormous.”
OCAST FUNDS THREE INTERN PARTNERSHIPS
Professors from the University of Tulsa, Oklahoma City Community College and the founder of the Oklahoma Life Science Fund will oversee student interns in projects funded by OCAST in the agency’s Intern Partnerships program.
The projects received recent approval by the OCAST governing board.
Each Intern Partnership will operate two years in collaboration with universities and private-sector companies.
Internships are awarded for two years, bringing the total for the three internship projects to $171,584. The latest awards support undergraduate student internships in biotechnology and environmental efforts.
Since 1998 the OCAST Intern Partnership program has assisted Oklahoma businesses in locating hard-to-find technology trained employees. OCAST pays half of the cost for an undergraduate intern to work in a research and development setting.
Many of the college students who participate in the program become employees of the small businesses that sponsor them.
Recent program awards follow:
- William Paiva of the Oklahoma Life Science Fund will mentor interns who will be given the opportunity to interact with and contribute to the technical, financial, operational and executive management aspects of the seven portfolio companies in which the Oklahoma Life Sciences Fund has invested. Total for two years, $56,000
- Surendra Singh of the University of Tulsa will oversee interns who will work with three MIRATECH Corp. engineers in design, specifications, development and testing of emission control systems. Total for two years, $60,000
- Fabiola Janiak-Spens of Oklahoma City Community College will direct interns enrolled in the OCCC biotechnology program. Interns will work with local biotechnology companies in performing wide-ranging functions to include development of novel fungal diagnostic assays, production of hyaluronic acid and heparosan and producing tools for diagnostics, drug and vaccine development. Sponsoring firms include Advanced Research Laboratories/DNA Solutions, Cytovance, IMMY, Caisson, Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center, OU Health Sciences Center and Pure Protein. Total for two years, $55,584
HEALTH RESEARCH CONFERENCE, APRIL 4
Learn about new projects and discoveries at the 2012 OCAST Health Research Conference. The one day event is April 4 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Devon Boathouse in Oklahoma City. Topics will range from diabetes and cancer research to infertility and mental health issues. This year’s conference includes researchers from Laureate Institute for Brain Research, Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, Oklahoma State University, Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences, University of Central Oklahoma, University of Oklahoma and the University of Tulsa.
A poster session will be held throughout the conference, and at 10 a.m., researchers will briefly highlight their work. The conference will also include remarks from Lt. Governor Todd Lamb and a keynote address by Dr. David Albert, president and founder of Lifetone Technology.
The conference is open to the public at no cost. Register online at www.ocast.ok.gov.
GOVERNING BOARD ELECTS DR. TERRY SALMON AS CHAIR
The OCAST governing board recently elected Dr. Terry Salmon to serve as chair and Sherri Wise to serve as vice chair.
Dr. Terry Salmon of Oklahoma City is the new chair of the OCAST governing board. The business leader is founder of Computer System Designers LLC and is author of several books related to marketing in the software industry.
Sherri Wise of Tulsa will serve as vice chair of the board. Wise is a certified public accountant and president and CEO of the Osteopathic Founders Foundation. She has served on the OCAST governing board since 2004 and is former board chair.
Salmon earned a doctorate of education in Applied Educational Studies in Aviation and Space Education with a management option from Oklahoma State University. He holds a master of science degree from OSU and bachelor in computer science from Cameron University, Lawton. He has authored “Obtaining New Customers in the Software Industry,” and co-authored “CEO Best Practices: Skills, Values & Strategies for Successful CEOs.”
He and his firm have been honored by the U.S. Small Business Administration, Air Traffic Control Association and the Department of Commerce. He began his career with the Oklahoma State Department of Education as a computer programmer analyst and later served as an analyst for the Federal Aviation Administration.
Salmon has served on the board of advisors of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, Tinker Leadership Council, Air Traffic Control Association and the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association.
Wise has served as president and CEO of the Osteopathic Founders Foundation since 1996. She is a graduate of the University of Central Oklahoma and chairs the Seed Capital Investment Fund for OCAST.
She is former president and current board member of the Oklahoma Educational Foundation for Osteopathic Medicine and has held office with the American Osteopathic Foundation.
Locally, Wise has served as a member of the board of directors for the Bridges Foundation, which serves individuals with developmental disabilities. She is a long-time volunteer and officer for Special Olympics.
Wise is a member of the Healthcare Financial Management Association and the Oklahoma Planned Giving Council. She is an alumna of Leadership Tulsa Class XVIII.
OKLAHOMA SBIR COLLABORATIVE RESOURCES (OSCR)
OCAST has created a service that offers some of the best resources available to help Oklahoma businesses successfully compete for SBIR/STTR funding.
Oklahoma SBIR Collaborative Resources (OSCR) guides applicants from the beginning Phase I steps all the way to a commercialized product ready for the market place. Because the Oklahoma SBIR Collaborative Resources improves the quality of applications submitted to funding agencies, OSCR can also help Oklahomans compete for additional funding opportunities beyond SBIR/STTR.
Each year the federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) funding programs award approximately $2.5 billion in non-dilutive funding to small, high-tech, innovative businesses. Eleven SBIR agencies and five STTR agencies participate in the competitive award process. By encouraging for-profit companies and research institutions in collaboration with industry to pursue risky but potentially rewarding endeavors, the SBIR/STTR program helps the United States remain the world’s technology leader. SBIR/STTR funding and its critical third party validation review process improves an organization’s ability to commercialize innovative ideas.
OSCR provides the following resources:
- SBIR/STTR proposal preparation service that helps companies navigate the grant writing process
- Expert coaching and/or mentoring including guidance on what is needed to build a strong application
- External Proposal Reviewers (EPRs): Experts who will review a proposal before it is sent off for official review
- SBIR proposal writing workshops
- Funding support and participation in the OCAST Technology Showcase
- Identification of SBIR funding opportunities
- Timeline management and budgetary preparation
- Market research development
- Electronic registration assistance
- Post-submission and pre-award support
For more information, contact Steven Martinez, OCAST client service and programs manager, 405-319-8408 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 2nd session of the 53rd Legislature is underway, reports Michelle Wynn, OCAST’s director of government relations. The legislature is considering many issues including the appropriations process that requires staff to be prepared to provide in-depth information for lawmakers as they work toward a May finish.
Governor Mary Fallin called for an OCAST budget of $17.8 million, the same level of funding appropriated the previous year. With few exceptions, Governor Fallin recommended that most state agencies were to receive level funding under the governor’s budget, an improvement over budget cuts in previous years due to a strained economy. According to State Treasurer Ken Miller, Oklahoma’s economy, and tax collections, are improving and in many areas, leading the rest of the nation in recovery. The House of Representatives, the State Senate and the Governor will work through the legislative process to appropriate certified monies by the end of the Legislative session.
To track legislation, visit www.oklegislature.gov.
NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION’S SCIENCE360 RADIO TO FEATURE OKLAHOMA INNOVATIONS
This week, OCAST announced that its science radio magazine, “Oklahoma Innovations,” will join the list of featured programs on the National Science Foundation’s radio network, Science360 Radio.
Oklahoma’s only science radio magazine, “Oklahoma Innovations” showcases Oklahoma technologies, researchers, businesses and universities. It began 17 years ago with the intention of expanding awareness of world-class research underway in the state.
“Being featured on a national network with worldwide reach allows for a greater awareness of the research taking place in Oklahoma,” said Steve Paris, “Oklahoma Innovations” co-host. “This gives our state global exposure and positions Oklahoma as a leader in science and technology.”
Science360 Radio is a 24/7 internet streaming network that showcases more than 100 radio shows and podcasts covering science, technology, engineering and math from the U.S. and around the world.
“Oklahoma Innovations” airs each weekend on 12 stations around the state. For more information about “Oklahoma Innovations,” stations and to listen to recent programs, visit www.ocast.ok.gov.
OKLAHOMA INNOVATIONS RADIO SHOW
Already world-famous for MRO, Oklahoma has also become a front runner in research, development, testing and training of unmanned aerial systems, along with development of new materials, from the application of nanotechnology, to composites, aerospace and blade materials, polymers and metals. Learn more from Dave Wagie, director, Aerospace & Defense Economic Development, Oklahoma Department of Commerce.
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Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) at Southwestern Regional Medical Center houses some of the most advanced diagnostic and therapeutic resources in cancer treatment. CTCA never stops searching for innovative technologies and treatment options that will benefit patients and improve their quality of life.
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Orthocare Innovations is an Oklahoma City-based medical device research and product development company focused on bringing to market advanced, innovative technologies to improve clinical efficiency and enhance the quality of patient care services in the rehabilitation, prosthetic and orthotic markets. Orthocare Innovations has launched its patented Edison™ Adaptive Vacuum Suspension System. Edison™ is a novel approach to improving the fit and function of lower limb prosthetic devices.
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The Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools was established as part of a collaborative vision to improve the quality of education in the Oklahoma City community. The foundation supports efforts such as the U.S. First Robotics competition coming to the Cox Center on March 29-31. Hear why these initiatives are so important from representatives of the foundation and Northwest Classen's robotics team, the Krypto-Knights.
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Southwestern Oklahoma State University provides educational opportunities in higher education that meet the needs of the state and region; contribute to the educational, economic, and cultural environment; and support scholarly activity. Major areas of study provide opportunities for students to obtain skills, knowledge, and cultural appreciation that lead to productive lives and effective citizenship.
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Crossroads LED designs and manufactures energy-efficient LED luminaires for the amusement and entertainment industries. The company also offers dedicated and retrofit white LED solutions for the commercial and residential lighting industries. The lighting industry is facing enormous technological as well as ideological changes. LED’s are literally transforming the way we light our world.
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Analytical Research Laboratories (ARL) is a contract research organization providing high quality analytical work and problem solving to the pharmaceutical industry. ARL’s sister company, DNA Solutions, provides DNA testing in the human, plant and animal market. Dr. Tom Kupiec and Dr. Brandt Cassidy explain the exciting work being done at these Oklahoma companies.
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||OKBio’s Champions of Bioscience Celebration
||Oklahoma Health Research Conference
||Intern Partnership application deadline
||Nanotechnology application deadline
||Oklahoma EPSCoR Annual State Conference
||Applied Research application deadline
||Oklahoma Venture Forum
||Oklahoma Health Center Foundation’s Treasures for Tomorrow
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INNOVATIONS IN HISTORY