2023 De Logi Grant Awards
Making animals regenerate
Why do some animals regenerate, and some do not? This research seeks to understand environmental factors that might have influenced the evolution of regeneration. In particular, Dr. Goentoro will pursue a hypothesis that nutrient availability, thus energy trade-off, may govern regenerative decisions in some animal species.
Engineering antigen-specific immune tolerance
Individuals often mount an unwanted immune response to self or non-self-proteins that results in loss of protein function and/or tissue pathology. Methods are needed to bring about tolerance to these proteins (antigen-specific tolerance), while maintaining an otherwise active immune system. Disease contexts in which self-proteins are inappropriately targeted include autoimmunity, transplantation, allergy, and type I diabetes. In addition, many therapies involve treatment of individuals with recombinant proteins (RP) that are foreign, or that are from humans but seen (in at least some individuals) as non-self, resulting in T cell activation and induction of anti-drug antibodies and loss of RP efficacy. There is much interest in being able to prevent infectious diseases such as HIV, or bring about long-term non-hormonal contraception in low resource settings, or in feral animals, through adeno-associated virus (AAV)-based expression of a monoclonal antibody that binds and inhibits a target protein required for viral function or fertility. Because a monoclonal antibody (even a fully human one) has unique variable regions, which have not participated in T cell selection in the thymus of those into which it is introduced, there is a significant probability that it will be recognized in the periphery as foreign, resulting in loss of activity. In contexts that involve treating many individuals the ability to bring about antigen-specific tolerance cheaply and efficiently is essential.
Exotic Nuclei on the Tabletop
Molecules containing exotic, unstable nuclei are known to possess many interesting features of relevance to particle physics, nuclear structure, and astrophysics. However, there are very few experimental studies of these types of molecules due to the difficulty in creating them, and most approaches require access to large facilities. We will implement new, tabletop methods to synthesize these molecules in the laboratory, and develop new approaches to study them rapidly and efficiently.
Thermal laser epitaxy: ultrapure growth of novel quantum materials with elements from the entire periodic table
This project will develop an instrument for thermal laser epitaxy, a new approach for the epitaxial growth of thin crystalline films. The method employs high-power lasers to heat target materials to temperatures exceeding 3000 C, enabling high atomic fluxes to be generated for even the most refractory elements. The instrument will enable the growth of novel quantum materials in new regimes of thermodynamic and kinetic synthesis space.