An Oregon State University research lab led by Gregory Rorrer has just been awarded a $2M NSF grant as part of the Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation (EFRI) program for Engineering projects. Of the 15 ENG/EFRI awards for 2012, 3 were in the category of Synthetic Biorefineries research: "the large-scale use of micro-organisms that harness solar energy to produce chemicals and fuels from carbon dioxide." Rorrer's lab will study diatom photosynthesis as a means of creating biofuel, as well as two other bioengineered products. Diatoms are a type of algae with a unique biosynthetic ability to extract silicate from the ocean to create cell walls of nanostructured silica. According to the grant proposal, the OSU team will identify cellular processes and cultivation strategies towards the design of scalable systems for a future diatom-based photosynthetic biorefinery.
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Oregon State researchers recently discovered DNA in a nematode, a type of roundworm, that may provide an insight into the mechanisms of human aging. The researchers found a specific portion of DNA within the mitochondria of the nematode which displayed the characteristics of "selfish" DNA, in other words, DNA which actually hurts the animal's chances of survival. Scientists have previously found instances of selfish DNA occurring in plants, but this is the first example found in an animal. “We weren’t even looking for this when we found it, and at first we thought it must be a laboratory error,” said Dee Denver, Oregon State associate professor of zoology (photo left courtesy of OSU). "Selfish DNA is not supposed to be found in animals."
Oregon State University recently opened a new nutritional sciences building with the help of a record donation from philanthropists Bob and Charlee Moore, founders of Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods (photo courtesy of Oregonlive). The new facility was named the Moore Family Center for Whole Grain Foods, Nutrition and Preventive Health in their honor.
We’ve been writing a lot lately about real estate and the complexities of urban life science expansion. In terms of ingenuity and multi-agency collaboration, Portland’s expansion into the South Waterfront area in order to expand Oregon Health & Science University’s capacity and facilitate collaboration with other Oregon universities is uniquely impressive. Recognizing long ago that OHSU’s location offered limited growth opportunity in terms of surrounding real estate, officials looked down the hill to Portland’s South Waterfront district, and at a derelict salvage yard in particular. There was space there, between two bridges, but would it be a valuable expansion if researchers and students couldn’t get between the two campuses easily? How to convince the principal players that the locale would work?
Despite 400 million years of evolutionary success, amphibians are dying out, thanks to habitat loss, increased levels of UV radiation, invasive species, climate change, emerging infectious diseases, and agricultural contaminants. These factors all make the frog's life and that of his fellow cold-blooded tetrapods harder and harder. Realistically, it's nearly impossible to address most of the factors contributing to his endangerment in the time frame needed to stave off extinction.
The $62.5 million Linus Pauling Science Center on the corner of 29th and Campus Way in Corvallis, Oregon, is having its grand opening on Friday, October 14, 2011. The new 105,000-square-foot building will house the Linus Pauling Institute, chemists from the College of Science, and contain classroom and laboratory space for students and researchers studying chemistry, biology, and the life sciences. It is the largest donor-supported building project in the history of Oregon State University. In addition to providing building funds, some 2,600 other donors have made gifts totaling more than $21 million to support the educational and research programs that will be housed in the building.
All three major Oregon research universities (the University of Oregon, Oregon State, and Oregon Health and Science University) received record amounts of new funding during fiscal year 2009-2010. This record increase will likely spur the development of new programs and encourage new research innovation in Oregon.
Oregon State University Scientists Rich Carter, a professor of chemistry, and Hua Yang, a postdoctoral research associate have developed a new organic catalyst. This "organocatalyst" could make drug production worldwide more environmentally friendly, cost effective, and efficient.