The Alzheimer’s Disease Center at KU is studying the effects of exercise in preventing the disease.
Through a $3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, researchers are studying mitochondria, the structures within cells responsible for generating energy — essentially a cell’s battery.
The KU Alzheimer’s Disease Center is a wide-ranging initiative with key facilities and personnel at the Medical Center and at the Lawrence campus. The center is one of just 29 Alzheimer’s disease centers in the nation to receive National Institute on Aging designation and funding.
The goal of all NIA-designated centers is to translate research advances into improved diagnoses and care — and ultimately to find a way to cure and prevent Alzheimer’s disease. KU’s center focuses on mitochondrial genomics, metabolism, and neuroimaging.
“We’re all included in the concept of multiculturalism. Culturally responsive instruction helps children see themselves in the curriculum.”
— Matthew Gillispie,
clinical assistant professor of speech-language-hearing
KU graduate students will soon start working more closely with American Indian and Alaskan Native children with speech-language impairments, helping them develop the communication skills necessary for education and socialization.
The Culturally Responsive Early Literacy Instruction (CRELI) program — established through a $1.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education — will recruit and educate speech-language pathology graduate students from indigenous backgrounds. The grant will provide tuition, stipends, and faculty and peer mentoring for about 18 graduate students over the next five years.
CRELI will also include field experiences that pair students with American Indian or Alaskan Native children and their families.
Two KU technologies were featured at the University Research & Entrepreneurship Symposium, a showcase of the nation’s most promising university-based inventions for venture capitalists and entrepreneurs.
Mark Fisher, professor of biochemistry, presented new technologies to address protein-folding diseases such as Parkinson’s, cystic fibrosis, some cancers, diabetes, and emphysema. The other presenters, Heather Desaire, professor of chemistry, and Melinda Toumi, who recently received a doctorate in chemistry, are developing new protein production technologies applicable to many areas of biomedical research.
Only 33 technologies were chosen for presentations. KU was one of only seven institutions — including Harvard, Johns Hopkins, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology — that presented more than once.
Select KU partnerships across the nation
Ford, Microsoft, Samsung, Coca-Cola, ExxonMobil, and Bayer HealthCare are a few of the companies working with KU faculty and researchers
- San Francisco, Calif.
- San Jose, Calif.
Samsung(San Jose, Calif.)An inaugural member of KU’s ITTC affiliates program, which engages companies and shares research and educational expertise.
- Pasadena, Calif.
Materia(Pasadena, Calif.)Works with chemistry faculty in research projects and technology development.
- Denver, Colo.
- Topeka, Kan.
Westar(Topeka, Kan.)In addition to partnering in research, participates in career fairs, events, and internship programs and sponsors the KU Energy Club.
- Wichita, KS
Spirit Aerosystems(Wichita, Kan.)Works with the School of Engineering in research; participates in the Evening with Industry event, which connects students with employers.
- Pomona, Kan.
Emission Control Solutions(Pomona, Kan.)Works with mechanical engineering faculty to test functionality and limits of company technology.
- Omaha, Neb.
- Baton Rouge, La.
ExxonMobil(Baton Rouge, La.)Works with faculty in geology, petroleum engineering, and chemistry on a number of research projects.
- Atlanta, Ga.
Coca-Cola(Atlanta, Ga.)Worked with chemistry faculty to analyze ingredients used at the company.
- Glenview, Ill.
- Warsaw, Ind.
- Cincinnati, Ohio
- Rockville, Md.
- Gaithersburg, Md.
- Pittsburgh, Pa.
General Nutrition(Pittsburgh, Pa.)Works with Health, Sport & Exercise Science to understand supplementation’s effect on muscles during exercise.
- Princeton, N.J.
- Cambridge, Mass.
- New York, N.Y.
- Seattle, Wash.
- Redmond, Wash.
- La Jolla, Calif.
Ligand Pharmaceuticals(La Jolla, Calif.)Signed a lease with the BTBC to continue pursuing partnerships and drug-discovery research.
- Lawrence, Kan.
Kansas-based startups(Lawrence, Kan.)22 active startup companies in Kansas with products or ideas based on KU research.
- Olathe, Kan.
Garmin(Olathe, Kan.)Established a facility in BTBC as part of a software engineering internship program.
- Austin, Texas
Savara Pharmaceuticals(Austin, Texas)Co-founded by a KU assistant professor of pharmaceutical chemistry, raised $8.6 million to develop nanocluster dry aerosol technology.
- Houston, Texas)
Tertiary Oil Recovery Project(Houston, Texas)KU scientists traveled to Houston in 2012 to discuss nanotechnology with various companies, resulting in industry-sponsored research for TORP.
- Dearborn, Mich.
- Decatur, Ill.
- Tarrytown, N.Y.
“We always planned to add more space, but we didn’t think we’d need to until 2015. The market demand is there now, so we’re moving forward ahead of schedule.”
– LaVerne Epp,
executive chairman, Bioscience and Technology Business Center
An expansion of the Bioscience & Technology Business Center’s main facility will provide more space to house companies that want to partner with KU researchers and students, as well as new startup companies created by KU research.
Once the expansion is complete, the main facility will have 50,000 square feet of leasable space, which can accommodate approximately 20 tenant companies.
The BTBC network includes three facilities totaling 70,000 square feet of space and 29 tenant companies, making it the largest incubator network in the Midwest. These companies combine to employ more than 100 people.
The School of Business broke ground in 2013 on a new $65.7 million building. The 166,000-square-foot structure will be the largest academic facility ever erected at KU entirely through private support. It will open during the 2015-16 academic year, in time to celebrate the university’s sesquicentennial.
Sandra Billinger was about seven months pregnant when someone ran a stop sign and hit her car with enough force to spin it around 180 degrees. Her son, Michael Thomas, was delivered during an emergency C-section after the crash.
The injuries Billinger sustained —head trauma, a fractured wrist, and spinal nerve damage — caused seizures, debilitating headaches, and spiking blood pressure. Numbness in her hands and fingers left her unable to go back to her job as a dental assistant. Instead, she went back to school and completed a doctorate in rehabilitation science.
Today, Billinger, assistant professor of physical therapy and rehabilitation science, directs the School of Health Professions Research in Exercise and Cardiovascular Health laboratory.
Last spring, Billinger walked across the state of Kansas to promote the benefits of physical activity for stroke survivors and to raise money for the REACH lab. Her son, Michael, joined her on the 572-mile journey, which began at the Colorado state line. He celebrated his 20th birthday during the expedition.
“Doctors said being healthy and active before my car accident helped my recovery and probably saved my life,” Billinger says. “My son and I have been through a lot, and by completing this journey we hope we will inspire others to be physically active.”
As part of her campaign, Billinger raised $38,000, which will help her research team to better measure brain blood flow response during exercise early after stroke. The team’s study of the benefits of exercise during stroke recovery is also supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health.
“Movement is essential to health. Dance has powerful implications for the ways we participate in communities, not merely in terms of health, but also in terms of relationships.”
– Michelle Heffner Hayes
professor and chair, Department of Dance
Students from the University Dance Company performed jazz, ballet, baroque, and modern dance as part of a residency in central Kansas. The outreach event was coordinated with the Salina Community Theatre.
The company also taught two master classes in hip-hop and modern dance to children and adults.
The Jayhawk Health Initiative, founded by KU student Leigh Loving, provides health care to those in need while providing learning opportunities to students in pre-health programs. In summer 2013, the students traveled to Panama, teaming up with doctors to provide medical and dental care, medication, and health education to residents.
Received a grant from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society to study aerobic exercise, cognitive function, and sleep quality.
Presented research on post-traumatic stress disorder among journalists and nonmilitary personnel to the U.S. State Department.
Educated physicians in Wichita and Salina as part of innovative efforts to train exceptional doctors who want to practice in rural areas.