The University of Illinois System and The Hebrew University of Jerusalem recently awarded funding to four new interdisciplinary research teams that will drive innovation and advance collaboration between the universities. The projects are the second round of a joint research and innovation seed grant program that began in 2019.
The initiative seeks to accelerate economic development through the development of innovative technologies, building on talent and resources from the universities. Funding for the program comes from The Hebrew University`s International Office and its Authority for Research and Development, and the U of I System’s Office of the Vice President for Economic Development and Innovation.
The newly funded projects will focus on developing therapeutics for preventing and curing infectious diseases while reducing antibiotic resistance, identifying strategies to prevent chronic tissue injuries to improve cell therapy, developing ways to modify bitter tastes in food to answer the needs of the food industry, and boosting photosynthetic efficiency to increase crop yields with translational impact.
“After a successful first year of this program, I am thrilled to award funding for four new projects,” said Jay Walsh, the U of I System’s vice president for economic development and innovation. “Last year’s awards led to important and innovative outcomes. We fully expect, given the strength of these funded proposals, that we will see similar impact from these four new projects.”
The partnership between the universities also includes The Hebrew University as a founding academic partner of the Discovery Partners Institute, a U of I System initiative designed to train people for high-demand tech jobs, conduct applied R&D, and help build businesses to grow Chicago’s tech ecosystem.
Project teams were required to have participation from The Hebrew University and from one of the three U of I System universities, and proposals had to be focused on agriculture, artificial intelligence, data science or medicine–key areas of strength for both institutions.
“I am delighted to see a second successful round of applications,” said Hebrew University’s Vice President for International Affairs Oron Shagrir. “This attests to the great potential of scientific collaboration between the University of Illinois System and Hebrew University. We are looking forward to growing a community of scientists who are dedicated to collaboratively applying innovative technologies to groundbreaking research.”
The projects receiving grants are:
- Fighting ESKAPE pathogens using random antimicrobial peptide mixture in preclinical models of human infectious diseases. Co-principal investigators: Zvi Hayouka, Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment, Hebrew University, and Gee W. Lau, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
- Reconstituting the microenvironment of chronic tissue injury to improve cell therapy. Co-principal investigators: Amnon Buxboim, Institute of Life Sciences, Hebrew University, and Jae-Won Shin, College of Medicine, University of Illinois Chicago.
- Bitterness suppression for improving personalized nutrition. Co-principal investigators: Masha Niv, Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment, Hebrew University, and M. Yanina Pepino de Gruev, College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
- Tolerance Of Photosynthesis to heat (TOP) project: Elucidating the regulatory network for photosynthesis protein stability and abundance. Co-principal investigators: Michal Breker-Dekel, Institute of Life Sciences, Hebrew University, and Steven Burgess, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.