UW2020: WARF Discovery Initiative

An image of a pancreas section stained with antibodies is part of the precision treatment of diabetes in a project chosen for one of 17 grants awarded in the UW2020 program.

Diabetes treatment, fusion energy, land use and data science are four of 17 research projects receiving about $7.4 million in the newest round of research grants at UW-Madison.

The UW2020: WARF Discovery Initiative, funded by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation and the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education, selected 17 projects out of 111 proposals from across the UW-Madison campus.

The university said in a release on Thursday the UW2020 goal is "to stimulate and support cutting-edge, highly innovative groundbreaking research at UW-Madison, and to support the acquisition of shared instruments or equipment that will foster significant advances in research."

"We are excited to infuse the initiative with a new class of inspiring and novel projects that continue to showcase UW-Madison's highly competitive and forward thinking world-class faculty and staff researchers," said Norman Drinkwater, interim vice chancellor for research and graduate education.

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This is the fourth round of selections of UW2020 projects, bringing the total number up to 66 since the first awards came about in 2016.

The 17 projects have 125 faculty and academic staff investigators on their teams, from 10 schools and colleges on campus.

The projects and the lead investigators include:

  • Advancing CRISPR-mediated genome editing technology to model human disease; Anjon Audhya, associate professor of biomolecular chemistry.
  • All-optical electrophysiology-electrophysiology without electrodes; Baron Chanda, associate professor of neuroscience.
  • Building a translational research pipeline to personalize diabetes prevention and treatment; Elizabeth Cox, associate professor of pediatrics.
  • Communication ecologies, political contention and democratic crisis; Lewis Friedland, professor of journalism and mass communication.
  • Development of a forecast-based flood and health risk management system to support advanced disaster preparedness; Paul Block, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering.
  • Gene editing nanomedicines to correct pathogenic mutations in retinal pigmented epithelium; Krishanu Saha, assistant professor of biomedical engineering.
  • Improving outcomes for incarcerated parents and their children through enhanced jail visits; Julie Poehlmann-Tynam, professor of human ecology.
  • Instrument development to study the highest energy photons in the universe; Justin Vandenbroucke, assistant professor of physics.
  • Maternal breathing dysfunction during pregnancy increases risk for psychiatric disorders in her offspring: a paradigm-shifting concept; Tracy Baker, associate professor of comparative biosciences.
  • Toxoplasma infection and brain function; Meyer Jackson, professor of neuroscience.
  • Accelerating lead optimization to clinical application using microscale thermophoresis to quantify molecular interactions; Weiping Tang, professor of pharmaceutical sciences.
  • Acquisition of an Illumnina NovaSeq Next Generation DNA sequencer; Michael Sussman, professor of biochemistry.
  • Data science hub for UW-Madison; Brian Yandell, professor of statistics.
  • Fusion energy research at the next frontier; David Anderson, professor of electrical and computer engineering.
  • State-of-the-art, reactive-ion-etching instrument for nanofabrication of devices; Luke Mawst, professor of electrical and computer engineering.
  • The Land Lab Institute: A place for ecological solutions to land use problems; Randall Jackson, professor of agronomy.

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