Accelerator Grant research teams include 20 engineering faculty

Posted: June 9, 2021
Aerial view of CBEC and BMEC looking toward Wexner Medical Center

Nineteen interdisciplinary teams have been awarded Accelerator Grant funding through the President’s Research Excellence (PRE) program. Seven teams are led by engineering faculty, and ten teams include an engineer as a co-investigator. These grants of up to $50,000 are for small teams formed to pursue curiosity-driven, novel, high-risk and high-reward research.

The PRE program provides seed support for cross- and interdisciplinary research projects that have the potential to attract external funding, enable curiosity-driven research and discoveries, and address complex societal challenges. 

June 2021 Accelerator Grant projects led by College of Engineering faculty

Enhanced glioblastoma subpopulation classification based on label-free ECM binding

Lead PI: Aleksander Skardal, College of Engineering
Co-investigators: Zachary Shultz, College of Arts & Sciences; Monica Venere, College of Medicine

Glioblastoma (GBM) continues to suffer from poor prognosis and survival. We will re-characterize GBM cell populations based on cell interactions with their 3D physical environment. This new classification enables opportunities for a new class of target identification and treatment strategies.

Selective conversion of methane to methanol using hemoglobin encapsulated in porous materials

PI: Nicholas Brunelli, College of Engineering
Co-investigators: Andre Palmer, College of Engineering; Christine Wade, College of Arts & Sciences

We will use zeolitic imidazolate framework to encapsulate hemoglobin to use as a catalyst for the selective conversion of methane to methanol. Using advanced spectroscopy, we will investigate the oxidation state of the iron atom in the hemoglobin during each step of the catalytic cycle.

Novel minimally invasive strategies to treat chronic low back pain                  

PI: Devina Purmessur (Walter), College of Engineering
Co-investigators: Natalia Higuita-Castro, College of Engineering; Safdar Khan, Olga Kokiko-Cochran and Candice Askwith, College of Medicine

There is a critical need for non-addictive strategies to treat chronic low back pain given its socio-economic burden and gateway to opioid use. Our goal is to establish minimally invasive gene delivery strategies using engineered extracellular vesicles that target peripheral neurons in back pain.

In-situ 3D printing of wireless medical implants

PI: Asimina Kiourti, College of Engineering
Co-investigators: David Hoelzle and Jinghua Li, College of Engineering; Desmond D'Souza, College of Medicine 

A major obstacle in the widespread adoption of wireless implants is the invasive process of placing them into the body. In a major leap forward, we propose a novel approach for 3D-printing wireless implants in-situ using a robotic material delivery probe that enters the body via a minor incision.

AI-Powered green synthesis pathway planning for drug manufacturing

PI: Xiaoxue Wang, College of Engineering
Co-investigators: Huan Sun, College of Engineering; Xia Ning, College of Medicine                     

We propose an AI platform that suggest synthesis pathways with green chemistry considerations for drugs. Our work will support the manufacturing of newly-designed drugs without known synthesis pathways, and optimize existing manufacturing processes to maximize profits and avoid safety risks.                        

Energy efficient on-demand delivery services (EODS)

PI: Qadeer Ahmed, College of Engineering
Co-investigators: Christopher Atkinson, College of Engineering; Desheng Liu, College of Arts & Sciences              

We aim to address the inherent energy inefficiency of on-demand parcel and grocery delivery services (ODS), as practiced today. This approach will improve the energy efficiency of urban mobility by predicting delivery demand, improving freight and vehicle routing, and reducing deadheading.     

Local antioxidant release to prevent cataract after vitrectomy       

PI: Katelyn Swindle-Reilly, College of Engineering
Co-investigators: Colleen Cebulla, College of Medicine; Heather Chandler, College of Optometry; Eric Miller, College of Veterinary Medicine 

The role of antioxidant and oxygen concentrations in the vitreous will be studied to prevent oxidative damage in the eye. Biomimetic hydrogels with nanoencapsulated antioxidants are being explored to restore antioxidant levels after vitreous removal, potentially preventing cataract.


Engineering Professors Jian Chen, Enam Chowdhury, John Fosler-Lussier, Samir Ghadiali, Lisa Hall, Jung Hyun Kim and Han-Wei Shen are co-investigators on other teams receiving funding. See all 19 funded grants.

The PRE program also offers Catalyst Grants to support the efforts of large cross- and interdisciplinary teams to pursue large-scale, high-impact research that addresses emerging or existing challenges of national and international societal importance. These grants may be up to $200,000 and are expected to generate long-term, sustained, and significant impact while positioning Ohio State as THE research area leader. Concept papers for Catalyst Grant funding are due on June 18, 2021.

Categories: ResearchFaculty