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Jill Johnson Receives $1 Million NIH Grant

Jill Johnson from the Biological Sciences department was awarded a 1 million dollar NIH grant. The grant is the result of an IBEST-funded pilot project, and will allow her to further study the Hsp90 function. Hsp90 is a global cellular regulator that controls the function of up to 15% of all cellular proteins, including many proteins that drive cancerous cell growth. Drugs that target Hsp90 block the function of cancer-causing proteins and stop tumor growth but are too toxic for general use. With this grant, Johnson and her collaborators hope to provide research that aids in the development of more selective and less toxic Hsp90-inhibiting drugs.

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Domestic Sheep Swabbed for Movi Bacteria

Wrestling sheep on a cold morning in order to swab their noses may sound strange, but what researchers learn from these swabs could help protect the sheep in the long run. Kim Andrews from the GRC took nasal swabs from over 75 young sheep on October 17, with the help of the University of Idaho Sheep Center team and Thibault Stalder from Eva Top's lab. These samples will soon be tested for Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae (Movi). This is the beginning of a study that aims to eventually aid in the creation of a vaccine to protect sheep against the Movi bacteria.

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Bacteria in the Human Vagina that Produce D-Lactic Acid Promote Resistance to Chlamydial Infections

Department of Biological Sciences Distinguished Professor Dr. Larry Forney, in collaboration with researchers from the University of Maryland, recently published a paper entitled “The cervicovaginal microbiota-host interaction modulated Chlamydia trachomatis infection” in the journal mBio that detailed their most recent study of the vaginal microbiome. Their research revealed mechanisms by which D-lactic acid produced by bacteria in the vagina might help protect women against Chlamydia trachomatis. These findings may enable the development of novel microbiome-based therapeutic strategies to protect women from infections and improve vaginal and cervical health.

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Polymorphic Games Receives Grant for Evolutionary Mobile Game

Professor Barrie Robison recently received a $74,700 IGEM grant from the Idaho State Board of Education. He and co-PI Terence Soule will use the grant to create a mobile version of the first game produced by the Polymorphic Games Studio, entitled “Darwin’s Demons”. The new version of Darwin’s Demons, will bring evolutionary procedural content generation into the world of mobile gaming. This technique uses evolutionary models to evolve original game content as the game progresses rather than relying on pre-programmed content—an innovative programming approach developed by Polymorphic Games. The studio has released two commercial games so far that utilize evolutionary procedural content generation, and both games get more difficult over time as the opponents’ appearance, behavior, and traits adapt to the choices and strategy of the player.

Polymorphic Games 
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Paul Rowley Interviews with IDH About Novel Antifungal Proteins

Dr. Paul Rowley of the Biological Sciences department was recently interviewed by the Infectious Diseases Hub about his work exploring novel antifungal proteins. With rising resistance to antifungals, there is a need for new approaches and new drugs to treat fungal infections. In his interview, Rowley speaks about his research identifying novel antifungal proteins from Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeasts and whether these could be translated into the medications of the future.

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One, remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Two, never give up work. Work gives you meaning and purpose and life is empty without it. Three, if you are lucky enough to find love, remember it is there and don't throw it away.

Stephen Hawking
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Graduate Brings Ear Cancer in Channel Island Foxes to Light

Sarah Hendricks spends her days analyzing white rhino genomes at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research as part of a program aimed at keeping the animals from extinction. She uses ground-breaking genetic techniques to assess, observe, and manage endangered species and prevent species extinction. It's the perfect job for Hendricks, who graduated from the University of Idaho in spring 2019 with a PhD in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology. As a U of I student, Hendricks went to Paul Hohenlohe, associate professor of evolutionary biology in the Department of Biological Sciences, and asked him if she could research the genetics of the foxes. Hohenlohe, who does similar work with Tasmanian devils, readily agreed. "While studying facial cancer in Tasmanian devils, my team found individual devils with tumor regression," Hohenlohe said. "The DNA sequencing of these individuals identified a gene that could play a role in that. Sarah and I believed that there might be something comparable happening with the foxes."

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DARPA Visits the University of Idaho on October 9th

U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) program officials from the Biological Technologies Office (BTO), the Defense Sciences Office (DSO) and the Information Innovation Office (I2O) will be on the U of I Moscow campus Wednesday, Oct. 9, for an all-day event where faculty members and others can learn about research funding opportunities.

Register DARPA Offices 
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Faculty Success Seminar Schedule Announced

The Research and Faculty Development team is pleased to announce the academic year schedule for our Faculty Success Seminars! These one-hour seminars will deliver information to enhance the competitiveness of proposals seeking funding to support research and scholarly efforts. These will take place from 12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. PT in IRIC 305, and will also be connected to other UI centers via Zoom. All seminars are open to faculty members, postdocs, and graduate students, and they will be recorded.

Seminar Schedule 

If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.

Isaac Newton

You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him discover it in himself.


The saddest aspect of life right now is that gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.

Isaac Asimov