Texas Tech University

2014-2016 Academy Team Members and Projects

Obesity Research

Fariba M. Assadi-Porter, College of Human Sciences;
Naima Moustaid-Moussa, College of Human Sciences;
Brian Reilly, College of Arts & Sciences;
Boyd Butler, College of Arts & Sciences;
Susan San Francisco, Center for Biotechnology and Genomics;
Rao Kottapalli, Center for Biotechnology and Genomics;
Jannette Dufour, Department of Cell Biology and Biochemistry, TTUHSC;
Daina Dreimane, Pediatrics, TTUHSC;
Susan E. Bergeson, Pharmacology and Neuroscience, TTUHSC;
Amir Assadi, Department of Mathematics, University of Madison-Wisconsin;
Marco Tonelli, NMRFAM Varian Instrumentation Director / Scientist, NMR National Facility at Madison-WI;
John Markley, NMRFAM Head, NMR National Facility at Madison-WI

The overarching broad goal of the team is to apply system biology and bioinformatics to study molecular mechanisms of disease onset/progression and identify metabolic disease biomarker(s). As a team, they have developed unique and novel technologies that include high throughput metabolomics (nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR)-based metabolome dynamics platform (MDP)), transcriptomics, immunomics, and bioinformatics. The team's short-term goal is to apply their multifaceted system-based methods and complementary human expertise for a pilot study to screen individuals at risk for early stages of developing type 1 diabetes.

Obesity & Cancer Research

Lauren Gollahon, College of Arts & Sciences;
Naima Moustaid-Moussa, College of Human Sciences;
Leslie Shen, Pathology, TTUHSC;
Shu Wang, College of Human Sciences

The goal of the team is to investigate whether the green tea cathechin, epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) counteracts the effects of obesity on breast cancer metastasis through modulating estrogen receptor (ER) status. To investigate whether EGCG will promote bone health, attenuating metastatic progress.

Sustainable Environment

David A. Driskill, College of Architecture;
Annette Boles, Garrison Institute on Aging Community Outreach Division, TTUHSC;
Adam Cohen, College of Arts & Sciences

The overriding goal is to use downtown redevelopment in the City of Lubbock as a laboratory for the transformation of an existing drosscape into a healthy, safe, economically viable and sustainable community. The existing conditions exhibit all the characteristics of an unhealthy, unsafe, economically unviable, unsustainable environment.

Agriculture and Environment

Peter Keyel, College of Arts & Sciences;
Venugopal Mendu, College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources;
Bryan Sutton, Department of Cellular Physiology and Molecular Biophysics, TTUHSC

The broad goal of this project is to bridge mammalian and plant innate immune systems to generate a comprehensive understanding of pathogen recognition and defense response mechanisms. Both plants and mammals utilize NOD-like receptors (NLRs) as pattern-recognition receptors that detect pathogens or pathogen-associated signal molecules and trigger defense responses. NLRs represent a crucial foundation of mammalian immunity, as the 20 known mammalian NLRs play an important role in pathogen clearance, vaccination, and disease responses (including diabetes and multiple sclerosis). Although specific human NLRs are well-characterized, plant NLRs remain understood as “Resistance genes” which are involved in plant innate immunity, providing resistance against specific pathogens. Plants possess a wider variety of NLRs, with 150 identified in Arabidopsis and 600 in rice. We propose leveraging our knowledge of mammalian NLRs to characterize plant NLRs. The wider variety of plant NLRs will help us understand global structural patterns in the NLR family. This in turn will enable us to better predict the function of uncharacterized mammalian and plant NLRs. The tangible outcomes we anticipate from this project are the crystallization, characterization, and understanding structure-function of NLRs. This understanding will permit us to develop disease resistant crops and therapeutics to treat inflammation in mammals.

Obesity & Nutrition

Naima Moustaid-Moussa, College of Human Sciences;
Shu Wang, College of Human Sciences;
Siva Vanapalli, College of Engineering;
Jerzy Blawzdziewicz, College of Engineering;
Rao Kottapalli, Center for Biotechnology and Genomics;
Chwan-Li (Leslie) Shen, Department of Pathology, TTUHSC;
Shengping Yang, Department of Pathology, TTUHSC;
Preethi Gunaratne, University of Houston

The project seeks to Determine cellular and molecular mechanisms mediating metabolic benefits of the antiinflammatory effects of bioactive food components, with initial emphasis on omega 3 fatty acids, in obesity and insulin resistance. Through the proposed multidisciplinary team, we will develop and sustain a long term collaborative research, education and outreach initiative in obesity and nutrition, in line with our colleges and university mission.

Sustainable Society

Ali Nejat, College of Engineering;
Daan Liang, College of Engineering;
Zachary Hohman, College of Arts & Sciences;
Zhen Cong, College of Human Sciences

The team goal is to develop a comprehensive model to simulate the dynamics of post-disaster recovery. This will help policyholders envision the outcomes of their post-disaster policies in advance and prioritize these policies accordingly to enhance the overall recovery.

Integrative Biosciences

Micah Green, College of Engineering;
Mohammad Saed, College of Engineering;
Jaclyn Canas-Carrell, College of Arts & Sciences, TIEHH;
Shu Wang, College of Human Sciences;

The goal of this collaborative work will be to utilize techniques for carbon nanomaterial dispersion and characterization in order to address state-of-the-art studies in the areas of nano-bio interactions in environmental and therapeutic applications. Because of the high potential for nanotube use in smart pesticides, the need to investigate fate and transport in the environment and organisms is a critical need. Also the team will incorporate the use of nanotubes as carriers for diagnostic, preventive and therapeutic compounds.

Culture and Communication

John Barkdull,College of Arts & Sciences;
Kanika Batra, College of Arts & Sciences;
Robert Peaslee, College of Media and Communication;
Rich Rice, College of Arts & Sciences

This proposal is to explore opportunities for collaborative grant writing and course development across disciplines to emphasize knowledge of geographical areas, cultures, technologies and communication strategies in a global framework.

Community Health & Wellness

Guofeng Cao, College of Arts & Sciences;
Yong Chen, College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources;
Jennifer Vanos, College of Arts & Sciences

The overarching goal of the proposed project is to develop a transformative public health surveillance and data analytics system to analyze the impact of individual behaviors, social network, and environmental exposures on human health by effectively harnessing massive online social media data and growing measurements of diverse environmental variables. Specifically, we will focus on diseases that pose substantial public health risks, such as influenza-like illness, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and pulmonary disease.

Community Health and Communication

Eric Rasmussen, College of Media and Communication;
Autumn Shafer, College of Media and Communication;
Malinda Colwell, College of Human Sciences;
Narissra Punyanunt-Carter, College of Media and Communication;
Shawna White, Graduate Student, College of Media and Communication

The goal of this team is to investigate the effects of entertainment-education on young children and explore the mechanisms underlying these effects. As a team, we are interested in the ways children use media and how it affects their verbal and nonverbal behaviors. We will be able to help parents and
children in becoming more aware of the impacts of television on their cognitive,
emotional, and psychological development. We have already been in contact with the
creators of the PBS show, Daniel Tiger, a popular educational television series for preschool
aged children. The series creators are assisting in the development of our
research studies to evaluate the program’s effects.