Veterinary Faculty Among University Research Award Recipients

Eleven faculty from Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine are members of research teams announced today as part of a $5 million investment in 11 groundbreaking projects designed to deliver practical, life-changing solutions.

Auburn’s research teams are tackling local and global challenges ranging from housing affordability to advanced manufacturing of medical implants.

“Auburn research is on the move,” said President Steven Leath. “Our world-renowned faculty are leading Auburn in our drive to solve problems, provide real-world benefits and serve the social good.”

“The College of Veterinary Medicine is proud of its faculty’s success in the PAIR competition,” Dean Calvin Johnson said.  “It demonstrates the importance of our college to the university’s interdisciplinary research mission in the health sciences, bioengineering, and agriculture.”

“This is an exciting time for research at Auburn,” added Dr. Frank “Skip” Bartol, associate dean of Research and Graduate Studies at the college.  “The College of Veterinary Medicine is pleased that 11 members of our faculty, representing all of our academic departments and the Scott-Ritchey Research Center, are engaged as team members on PAIR projects funded in all three tiers.”

The College of Veterinary Medicine recipients are:

  • Dean Schwartz, Jennifer Panizzi and Vinicia Biancardi, Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Pharmacology;
  • Sarah Zohdy, Department of Pathobiology, who holds a joint appointment with the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences;
  • Nancy Merner, Department of Pathobiology;
  • Bruce Smith, Department of Pathobiology, and Doug Martin and Chad Foradori, Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Pharmacology; and
  • Kayla Corriveau, Debra Taylor and Julie Gard Schnuelle, Department of Clinical Sciences.

Today’s announcement is part of an initiative funded through the Presidential Awards for Interdisciplinary Research (PAIR) created last year by President Leath to propel Auburn to new levels of research and development distinction. The PAIR funding will span three years.

Additional research topics include rural health disparities in poverty-stricken areas, treating the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease, neuroscience research and graduate education, reducing carbon dioxide emissions or using them for other means, and other critical areas of human and environmental health.

Project teams were selected from three award tiers: Tier 1 for new teams, with funding up to $100,000 per year; Tier 2 for established teams, with funding up to $250,000 per year; and Tier 3 for high-impact teams, with funding up to $500,000 per year.

All proposals received an in-depth evaluation from Auburn’s associate deans for research, and Tier 3 proposals were also externally evaluated. Top-evaluated proposals were those that most closely aligned with the goals of PAIR as stated in the program guidelines. From 101 proposals received, 11 project teams will receive funding (the two top-evaluated proposals per tier for up to three years of funding, as well as five additional, top-evaluated Tier 1 proposals for two years of funding with a third-year no-cost extension available).

A complete list if the Tier I, Tier II and Tier III research teams and detailed descriptions of their research projects is available online at:

CVM-related project teams are:

Tier III – High Impact Teams
Additive Manufacturing of Durable, Next Generation Implants and Orthotics – $1,275,000 over three years

Project Team:
Kayla Corriveau, clinical sciences
Debra Taylor, clinical sciences
Julie Gard Schnuelle, clinical sciences
Nima Shamsaei, mechanical engineering
Scott Thompson, mechanical engineering
Jeff Suhling, mechanical engineering
Hareesh Tippur, mechanical engineering
Michael Zabala, mechanical engineering
Daniel Silva Izquierdo, industrial and systems engineering
Aleksandr Vinel, industrial and systems engineering
Xiaoyuan Lou, materials engineering
Amal Kaddoumi, drug discovery and development
Jayachandra Ramapuram, drug discovery and development
Robert Arnold, drug discovery and development
Lakami Baker, management

This project aims to determine best methods for using additive manufacturing (“3D printing”) to fabricate conformal, drug-delivering (and non-drug-delivering) implants and performance-enhancing/rehabilitative orthotics for both small animals (dogs, cats) and humans. This work should better position AU to compete for health science funding, e.g. from the National Institutes of Health. PAIR funding will be used to considerably enhance the capabilities of Auburn’s recently-initiated Center for Additive Manufacturing Excellence.

Tier II – Established Teams
Establishment of a Center of Neuroscience (CNS) – $637,500 over three years

Project Team:
Bruce Smith, pathobiology
Doug Martin, anatomy, physiology and pharmacology
Chad Foradori, anatomy, physiology and pharmacology
Vishnu Suppiramaniam, drug discovery and development
Miranda Reed, drug discovery and development
Richard Hansen, drug discovery and development
Rajesh Amin, drug discovery and development
Timothy Moore, drug discovery and development
Randall Clark, drug discovery and development
Muralikrishnan Dhanasekaran, drug discovery and development
Amal Kaddoumi, drug discovery and development
Rusty Arnold, drug discovery and development
Peter Panizzi, drug discovery and development
Ramesh Jeganathan, nutrition, dietetics and hospitality management
Michael Greene, nutrition, dietetics and hospitality management
Mona El-Sheikh, human development and family studies
David Chae, human development and family studies
Chris Newland, psychology
Jennifer Robinson, psychology
Jeff Katz, psychology
JoEllen Sefton, kinesiology
Matt Miller, kinesiology
Allan David, chemical engineering
Chris Easley, chemistry and biochemistry
Thomas Denney, MRI research center/electrical and computer engineering
Gopikrishna Deshpande, MRI research center/electrical and computer engineering
Thomas Beck, VCOM/cell biology and physiology

With the long-term objective of establishing the CNS as a flagship entity for Auburn University, the project team will engage in activities to foster extramurally-supported neuroscience research including (1) infrastructure development in which CNS members will be given priority access, including core facilities operated by CNS members, (2) biweekly CNS work-in-progress meetings and a monthly CNS seminar series creating awareness of the scope of neuroscience and neurological disease research on campus, fostering interdisciplinary collaborations and multi-investigator applications for extramural funding; (3) a yearly retreat with an organized symposium with outstanding national members of the neuroscience community, as well as senior research administrators from federal agencies; (4) formation of “CNS Ad Hoc Review Committees” to provide internal and external pre-submission reviews of manuscripts and grant applications by study section members of various funding agencies; (5) bridge funding for those faculty members with scored but not funded extramural proposals related to neuroscience; and (6) development of a proposed neuroscience certificate program (MS/PhD).

Tier I – New Teams
Emerging Contaminants Research Team – $150,000 over two years

Project Team:
Dean Schwartz, anatomy, physiology and pharmacology
Jennifer Panizzi, anatomy, physiology and pharmacology
Vinicia Biancardi, anatomy, physiology and pharmacology
Joel Hayworth, civil engineering
James Stoeckel, fisheries, aquaculture and aquatic sciences
David Blersch, biosystems engineering
This project will establish the Auburn University Emerging Contaminants Research Team (ECRT), initially comprised of researchers from Auburn University’s College of Engineering (Civil), the College of Agriculture (Biosystems Engineering and Fisheries), and the College of Veterinary Medicine (Anatomy, Physiology and Pharmacology). The team will study the behavior, fate, ecological and human health consequences, and mitigation of emerging contaminants of concern. Initially, the ECRT will focus on a class of emerging contaminants of recent and growing interest and concern to major extramural funding groups and the general public: emerging per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs).

PFASs represent a large group of purely synthetic organic compounds with known or suspected endocrine disrupting properties in both humans and wildlife.

A Prototype Framework of Climate Services for Decision Making – $150,000 over 2 years

Project Team:
Sarah Zohdy, forestry and wildlife sciences and pathobiology
Di Tian, crop, soil and environmental sciences
Brenda Ortiz, crop, soil and environmental sciences
Puneet Srivastava, biosystems engineering
Jasmeet Lamba, biosystems engineering
Sanjiv Kumar, forestry and wildlife sciences
Xing Fang, civil engineering
Bo Liu, computer science and software engineering

The goal of this project is to develop and incorporate science-based climate information and prediction into planning, policy and practice at the regional, national, and global scales. The central hypothesis is that that the unified climate information system (UCIS) will provide actionable climate services and result in improved climate resilience and risk management practices in agriculture, natural resources, and public health sectors.

Extra-virgin Olive Oil Prevents Conversion of Mild Cognitive Impairment to Alzheimer’s Disease – $150,000 over two years

Project Team:
Nancy Merner, pathobiology
Amal Kaddoumi, drug discovery and development
Thomas Denney, MRI Research Center/electrical and computer engineering
Gopikrishna Deshpande, MRI Research Center/electrical and computer engineering
Ronald Beyers, MRI Research Center/electrical and computer engineering
Jennifer Robinson, psychology
Annie Kirby, VCOM/cell biology and physiology
Darren Beck, VCOM/cell biology and physiology

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder of the elderly that afflicts about 30 million patients globally and over 5 million Americans in the US. Despite the considerable research effort to prevent, treat, or cure Alzheimer’s disease, effective strategies remain lacking. Many disease hallmarks have been identified among which is the compromised blood-brain barrier (BBB). Team members have developed a high-throughput screening assay to identify hit compounds that rectify the BBB integrity from vascular amyloid toxicity associated with AD progression. One of the identified hits is polyphenols-rich olive oil, i.e. extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO). In multiple subsequent preclinical studies, the research team was able to show the positive effect of EVOO on modulating the disease hallmarks, including the leaky BBB, in mouse models of AD. The natural extension of this work is to test EVOO performance, in addition to other identified lead compounds, in human clinical studies.