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SEED Grants 2011

Tracking the Early Events in Atheroschlerosis using Multimedia/Molecular Imaging

Christopher Cutler
School of Dental Medicine, SBU

Paul Vaska


This novel proposal will bring together clinician-scientists and basic-scientists at SBU, with physicists at BNL in order to image and track the early events in the development of atherosclerosis. The SBU group includes experts in advanced cardiac imaging (M. Poon-SBU-SOM), cardiovascular medicine (D. Brown- SBU-SOM), periodontology/oral mucosal immunology (C Cutler-SBU-SDM) and the rat model of infectious disease (J. Grewal- SBU-SDM). This group has been working for several years on humans to learn the mechanistic links between chronic periodontitis and acute coronary syndrome. The project has reached the point where we need to conduct animal studies, under well- controlled conditions to prove the concepts set forth in humans. This requires experts in biological imaging, for which BNL is well known. We have thus initiated a collaboration with BNL physicists working on PET-MRI molecular imaging of the rodent brain: P. Vaska, D.J. Schyler and J. Fowler.

We propose this team approach to study the earliest events in atherosclerosis in rats. Due to the importance of translational outcomes to this study, we have enlisted the expertise of L. Golub at SBU-SDM and F. Johnson at SBU-Chemistry, both of whom are developing new anti-inflammatory drugs and will provide candidate actives for testing in this rat model for atherosclerosis.


William A. Higinbotham's Tennis For Two (1958): A Documentary

Raiford Guins
Comparative Studies, SBU

Kristen Nyitray
Library, SBU

Peter Takacs


The recent inclusion of video game hardware and software within collections held by cultural institutions dedicated to the historical preservation of material and digital artifacts is of great importance for the documentation of historical innovation in computer engineering and hardware and software design. It is of equal significance to the history of video games, especially as said inclusion furthers an understanding and appreciation of technology with a social, cultural, and educational context.

This Project proposes to establish the archive of record for Tennis for Two, the world's first interactive, screen-based computer game developed by William A. Higinbotham in 1958 at Brookhaven National Laboratory. Funding from a SBU-BNL Seed Grant would provide for the production and distribution of a video documentary of the history of Tennis for Two and the current recreation of the game by Peter Takacs and Gene Von Achen of BNL's Instrumentation Division. It would also support the expansion of the William A. Higinbotham Game Studies Collection (WHGSC), a larger collection development initiative that focuses on the history of video games within Special Collections and University Archives at Stony Brook University Libraries.


Structure and Function of Bacterial Nanotubes

David Thanassi
Microbiology, SBU

Huilin Li

Recent studies revealed that bacterial and mammalian cells may express thin, bridging structures or anotubes that link neighboring cells together. These nanotubes appear to be used for a novel form of cell-to-cell communication, allowing the intercellular exchange of proteins, signaling molecules and genetic material. Very little is known about how these nanotubular structures are formed or what is their primary function. We have discovered the presence of nanotubes expressed by the highly pathogenic bacterium Francisella tularensis. In contrast to nanotubes described to date, these structures do not appear to link bacterial cells together, but instead they protrude from the bacterial surface and are secreted into the extracellular medium along with spherical vesicles. Based on our initial characterization of the F. tularensis nanotubesand vesicles, we hypothesize that they function in the delivery of bacterial virulence factors to host cells and thus may be critical for the ability of F. tularnsis to cause disease. The purpose of this Seed Grant application is to establish a new collaborative project between Dr. David Thanassi (PI, Stony Brook University) and Dr. Huilin Li (Co-PI, Brookhaven National Laboratory) to use electron cryotomography to characterize the structure and formation of the F. tularensis nanotubes. This information will be combined with our ongoing biochemical and virulence studies to determine the function of the nanotubes in the pathogenesis of F. tularensis. These studies will advance the strategic missions of both institutions in bio-imaging and infectious disease research, and will provide the required preliminary results for the submission of a multi-PI, 5-year National Institutes of Health grant.

Development of Highly Transparent, Conjugated Polymer-Based Photovoltaic Solar Cells

T.A. Venkatesh
Materials Science and Engineering, SBU

Mircea Cotlet

Thin film polymer-based photovoltaic solar cells have real potential as cost effective replacements of the more expensive but more efficient silicon-based solar cells. Various polymer-based solar cell architectures have been explored recently. Irrespective of their architecture, most of the current polymer-based solar cells require active layers with thicknesses of at least 100 nm in order to efficiently absorb light to generate electricity. This makes conventional polymer-based solar cells opaque, thus preventing their application in technologies where transparency of the device is sought, for example in photovoltaic windows that could generate electricity using outdoor/indoor light while still maintaining their transparency. We have recently demonstrated an exciting breakthrough where thin film honeycomb structures made from polymer-fullerene blends exhibit high optical transparency and good photovoltaic current generation capability. Through the proposed research, we will work with an interdisciplinary team of scientists and engineers from Stony Brook University and Brookhaven National Laboratory and develop an enabling platform for the successful design and realization of transparent, flexible, and robust photovoltaic devices.

The Data Sensorium: Multi-Modal Explorations of Scientific Data

Daniel Weymouth
Music, SBU

Kevin Yager

The Data Sensorium is a natural extension of the mission and work of cDACT (Consortium for Digital Arts, Culture and Technology). The core faculty of cDACT come from the Departments of Art, Music, Cultural Studies and Computer Science, all of whom were specifically hired because of their experience and interest in cross-discipline, collaborative work. cDACT faculty and projects seek the intersection between theory and praxis, and between scientific and artistic viewpoints. We propose an expansion of the Data ensorium project to include collaboration between Stony Brook University and Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), focused on the development, evaluation and implementation of multimodal visual and auditory interfaces for the analysis of large scale data sets. Researchers at both institutions are already engaged in both visualization and sonification of data. But this work is inherently multifaceted: it requires research in perception and cognition as well as the development of complex tools for delivering sonification and visualization through multimodal display environments. Making data legible sensorially requires the integration of concepts from engineering, computer science, psychology, neurobiology, acoustics, music, design and the arts. This collaboration and conceptual integration is what the Data Sensorium is prepared to offer.

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