Bailey awards will allow researchers to further their discoveries

By Dana Wilson, Office of the Vice President for Research

Two Bailey Research Career Development awards will launch efforts to treat disease and to create new, dynamic polymers.

Thomas Bobik, professor of microbiology, earned a three-year, $137,697 award. Arthur Winter, associate professor of chemistry, earned a three-year, $150,000 award.

Bobik will explore the use of an innovative compound, methanobactin, to remove copper in human tissue as a way to treat Alzheimer’s disease. Because this compound is rare in large quantities, Bobik’s specific aim will be to engineer E. coli for the production of larger quantities of methanobactin for use in testing. Due to its superior ability to bind copper, the compound also has potential applications for the treatment of cancer and Wilson’s disease, an inherited disorder where copper can’t be properly eliminated from the liver.

Winter will build upon his lab’s work with dynamic materials, including organic plastics that reversibly alter their physical state due to environmental changes. Through innovation with free radical building blocks, Winter’s lab may be able to create revolutionary materials that could be used to manufacture glues with switchable adhesion, environmentally-responsive coatings and surfaces, artificial muscles, and self-repairing materials. Similar advancements with metals have yielded commercially viable, advanced materials making future investment from outside sources a strong possibility.

Every year, the Bailey award is given to faculty whose research is innovative and not only increases fundamental knowledge, but also has practical applications. The goal of the award is to allow faculty to devote time toward high-risk, high-impact research that addresses emerging scientific, technical and/or societal problems resulting in practical applications and, in appropriate disciplines, extramural funding.

“Bailey award-winners are given the opportunity to pursue new transformative research thrusts that link fundamental questions to potential applications,” said Sarah Nusser, vice president for research. “These projects address critical neurodegenerative diseases and offer new possibilities for adhesive applications through the application of basic scientific discoveries, contributing to Iowa State’s exceptional track record in research and innovation.”

The Bailey Research Career Development Award was established by a gift from Carl A. and Grace A. Bailey. The award is $50,000 per year for up to three years.

Proposals for the next round of funding are due to colleges by November 13, 2018. Colleges then select one proposal each to submit to the Office of the Vice President for Research. For more information, go here.