University of South Florida


Graphic says, USF Provost Initiative CREATE Award

USF projects selected for new research program bring the potential to solve critical challenges

By Ann Comer-Woods, USF Research & Innovation

Four interdisciplinary teams of USF researchers have each been awarded up to $1 million in seed funding through the Collaborative Research Excellence and Translational Efforts awards – a new initiative designed to catalyze new research and enhance USF’s impact. The USF-funded CREATE awards will support the launch of four multidisciplinary research projects in the areas of innovation, technology and aging, antimicrobial resistance, precision medicine, and AI-generated materials. The projects include 67 faculty members from eight USF colleges.

The four projects were selected through a highly competitive process that included proposals from 72 teams that submitted proposals. Among the factors in the choosing the teams is identifying projects that will lead to long-term, large-scale initiatives that turn the seed funds into additional external funding and establish sustainable research centers and institutes that help solve complex problems. This program aims to build on USF's institutional record of $692 million in research funding set last year and enhance USF’s position as a member of the Association of American Universities.  

"Investing in our faculty is pivotal for tackling grand challenges and achieving our ambitious goal of $1 billion in research funding," Provost Prasant Mohapatra said. "USF has always aimed high, and by fostering large-scale collaborations and nurturing the innovative spirit of our researchers, we can significantly enhance our research enterprise and make a profound societal impact."

Center for Innovation, Technology and Aging

Yu Sun works on robotics

The Center for Innovation, Technology and Aging will be dedicated to transforming the landscape of care for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, as well as subsequently for other vulnerable older adults with disabilities such as Parkinson's disease and those recovering from stroke. Yu Sun, a professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering in the College of Engineering, will lead a team of 26 researchers from seven colleges to develop and evaluate innovative user-centered technologies to improve the quality of life for older adults. The center will build a strong collaboration among technology research labs, clinical and scientific research labs, home health agencies and long-term care facilities.

Center for Antimicrobial Resistance

Les Shaw in his lab

The Center for Antimicrobial Resistance will be a first-of-its-kind center in Florida that will focus on developing strategies and mechanisms to prevent the transmission of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria. Projections by the United Nations show that by 2050, antimicrobial-resistant infections will be the leading cause of death globally, causing more mortality than cancer, diabetes and heart disease. The center will provide unparalleled connection between basic scientists, physicians and clinicians, allowing researchers to drive the discovery and characterization of bacterial and host factors important for human infection and antibiotic resistance. The center will be led by Lindsey Shaw, the Richard and Patricia Wood Endowed Chair in Natural Sciences in the Department of Molecular Biosciences in the College of Arts & Sciences.

Precision Medicine Program

Rays Jiang

The first USF precision medicine program will pioneer treatments and interventions customized to each individual's unique genetic, epigenetic, metabolic, microbiome and behavioral characteristics. This program addresses the pressing needs of tackling the diseases that most severely plague our current society, including cancers, heart diseases, metabolic diseases, infectious diseases and psychiatric disorders. The team, led by Rays Jiang, associate professor of global health in the College of Public Health, will bring together diverse faculty from medicine, public health, chemistry, engineering and behavioral and community sciences. They will provide researchers across USF with training, expertise building and cross-disciplinary projects to leverage technology in driving biomedical research to its cutting edge.

Protein-Inspired Synthetic Macromolecular Materials

David Simmons

Integrating USF expertise in AI, materials science and protein science, a research team led by David Simmons, associate professor of chemical, biological and materials engineering in the College of Engineering, seeks to create a new class of societally transformative materials. These new materials would be derived from sequence-specified synthetic macromolecules that replicate the structure, functionality and properties of the naturally occurring biomacromolecules that animate the cells of all living things. They could provide a pathway to replace many petroleum-derived plastics with biologically derived, sustainable alternatives.

More information about the teams and awards are available here. 

Photography provided by Ryan Wakefield, College of Engineering, Corey Lepak, College of Arts and Sciences and Natalie Preston-Washington, College of Public Health

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