Watch out corn, you might just have some competition from the tequila plant in the modern day quest for biofuels. The DOE is funding a new $14.3M multi-lab project to study the CAM pathway in drought tolerant plants like agave, a hearty desert succulent. Dr. John Cushman in the department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Reno is receiving a new $7.6M grant, with a portion going to the University Liverpool in England as collaborators. The rest of the grant, $6.3M, is being divided between the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Newcastle University, and UT Knoxville. The name of this substantial new grant is: Engineering CAM Photosynthetic Machinery into Bioenergy Crops for Biofuels Production in Marginal Environments. Reno's high desert climate is an ideal center for this innovative biofuel research at a time when rainfall is becoming scarce and new solutions are going to have to be found if we plan to adapt to climate change.
Science Market Update
The University of Wisconsin at Madison is doing very well launching bioscience startups and attracting young entrepreneurs to set up shop near the sprawling campus on Lake Mendota. The University Research Park is so popular there's a huge Phase II addition several years in the planning and due to break ground any day. Funding for university spinoffs, like the NIH's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants, are helping to fuel Madison's bioscience economy too, as a team from the Dept. of Chemical and Biological Engineering just proved in securing $362,489 towards developing its novel advanced biomaterials for wound healing and surgical applications.
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