NOVA S OU T H E AS T E RN UN I V E R S I T Y RESEARCH NOVA S OU T H E A S T E R N U N I V E R S I T Y D I V I S I ON O F R E S E A R C H A N D E CONOM I C D E V E LO P M E N T S P R I N G 2 0 2 3 R E P O R T
CONTENTS RESEARCH ENVIRONMENT NSU Core Research Facilities | 4 Clinical Trial Opportunities | 6 Licensing Opportunities | 6 NSU Research Hub Highlights | 8 NSU Educational Outreach Highlights | 10 RESEARCH BRIEFS Human Disease: The Front Line | 14 Human Condition: Interfaces | 18 Botany Disease: Branching Out | 20 Animal Disease: Reef Revival | 21 Crossover Impact: Intersections | 22 Teaching Aids: Revelations | 24 Health Equity: Protocols | 26 Student Research: Impressions | 28 RESEARCH METRICS Sponsored Funding | 36 Sponsored Funding Sources | 36 FY 2022 Awards by Unit | 37 Expenditures Rankings | 37 Vision 2025 Goal Progress | 37 Internal Award Highlights | 38 APPENDIX
1 NOVA S OU T H E AS T E RN UN I V E R S I T Y KEN DAWSON-SCULLY, PH.D. President and CEO, Nova Southeastern University NOVEL APPROACHES “[We] will equip [our students] with the flexibility of mind and imaginative power necessary for creative work in our world of rapidly advancing scientific knowledge” and give them “the skills and appreciation necessary for a full and rewarding life.” Nova University News Release, September 20, 1967; Miami Herald, May 22, 1967 The declaration came after a series of breakfast meetings in the early 1960s to discuss growth for Greater Fort Lauderdale: “We have just got to have a research university!” Known as The Oatmeal Club, a group of South Florida pioneers envisioned the boon born from a university focused first on science and technology. While few universities at the time taught computer courses, Nova Southeastern University’s (NSU’s) founders foresaw the value of supplying scientists and inventors for expanding technology markets and highly trained students for emerging industrial and governmental entities. Computing became one of NSU’s first three subjects, along with electrical engineering and physical oceanography. In 1967, an inaugural class of 17 students began graduate-level studies inside a downtown storefront on Las Olas Boulevard. NSU’s novel model helped attract an advisory board comprising American science and business leaders and a faculty comprising acclaimed scientists, including two Nobel Laureates. One wealthy inventor even responded to an article about NSU by dropping off an envelope with a pledge for $1 million handwritten on the back flap. In producing the university’s first widely distributed annual report on research, this reflection sheds light on the road we have traveled and our pathway to preeminence. At the time of inception, NSU was the first technical university established in the United States in 20 years. Instead of colleges, it created research centers. The faculty-to-student ratio started as one-to-one. And all faculty members possessed terminal degrees from renowned universities. This helps explain why research by students is integrated into everything we do, and how NSU can offer an array of dual admission options to bright talents. NSU’s economic impact to Florida currently exceeds $4 billion. Our research activities span the globe. And we are dedicated to Making Yours a Healthier World. We invite you to learn more. This report includes briefs on select patents and projects. GEORGE L. HANBURY II, PH.D. GARY S. MARGULES, SC.D. Vice President for Research Associate Provost and Senior Vice President for Research and Economic Development Welcome Message GEORGE L. HANBURY II, PH.D. KEN DAWSON-SCULLY, PH.D. GARY S. MARGULES, SC.D.
Nova Southeastern University (NSU) is committed to advancing knowledge and finding solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges through its cutting-edge facilities, labs, equipment, and researchers. With state-of-the-art research hubs, advanced technology, well-equipped laboratories, and special partnerships, NSU provides the resources researchers need to explore complex issues and make significant contributions to society. NSU also features complementary facilities that play a vital role in contributing to an expanded environment of scholarship, research, and meaningful experiences for the university, the community, and beyond. By embracing the intersection of art, culture, and science, NSU contributes to a more comprehensive understanding of the world around us. RESEARCH ENVIRONMENT 2
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4 NSU CORE RESEARCH FACILITIES Nova Southeastern University operates five fee-for-service facilities available to internal, as well as external, researchers. All are located within NSU’s Center for Collaborative Research on the Fort Lauderdale/Davie Campus. Flow Cytometry Core Introduction: Flow cytometry provides extensive insight into the biological and physical properties of cells. As single cells flow past a laser or lasers within a pressurized solution, each is analyzed for visible light scatter and a broad range of fluorescence parameters. Wavelengths of light are converted into digital signals to relay measurements. A cell sorter purifies and collects samples for further analysis. Application: Characterization of cancerous cells, isolation and assessment of transgene expression in modified cells, and immune repertoire profiling are among the services. Technology: Principal assets include one analytic instrument (BD Fortessa X-20 SORP) and one sorting instrument (BD AriaFusion SORP). Technique: Flow cytometry facilitates fluorescence analysis and preparative sorting of both human and mouse cells to the BSL-2 plus level. Support: The core also provides data analysis support and operates workstations with FACSDiva and FlowJo software. Imaging Core Introduction: Cellular events can be captured as video in living animals or at more conventional rates as scans with high information density. Application: It advances investigations in neuroscience, biology, biomedical sciences, chemistry, geosciences, physics, and other disciplines. Technology: Principal assets comprise a confocal microscope (Zeiss LSM 880), an inverted, automated imaging system (Life Technologies EVOS), and a high-content screening platform (CellInsight CX7). Techniques: Assistance with a range of light microscopic techniques and digital image analysis is available. Support: The core also provides microscopy training. Vivarium Core Introduction: NSU’s state-of-the-art Vivarium Core Facility is outfitted with Tecniplast Green Line IVC cages. Each room is equipped with temperature, humidity, and light controls. In addition, all holding rooms have VHP ports to maintain an SPF environment. The vivarium contains two separate holding areas: a barrier suite and a non-barrier suite. NSU’s animal care and use program is accredited by the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International (AAALAC). Application: Vivariums house and care for live animals, allowing researchers and their students to investigate biological and behavioral responses to stimuli and potential treatments for various cancers, Alzheimer’s Disease, infectious diseases, and more. Technology: The elements described above maintain a stable environment for the comfort and safety of the species who live and work in the lab. Support: NSU’s vivarium staff members provide daily husbandry of animals, facility maintenance, veterinary oversight, and technical assistance.
5 Genomics and Bioinformatics Core Introduction: NSU Core services include library construction and DNA sequencing for various genomics-level applications, including whole genome sequencing, exome sequencing, and transcriptomic profiling. The sequencing data can show specific genetic changes occurring within the genome of any organism. Transcriptome profiling reveals information on which genes in an organism are expressed in various tissues, allowing researchers to potentially model how organisms might adapt to changing environments. Application: Genomics and bioinformatics offer gateways to deeper understanding of how organisms, from corals to humans, function in healthy and diseased states. Technology: Principal equipment assets include Illumina’s NextSeq 500 platform and NanoString’s novel, digital, color-coded barcode technology on the nCounter analysis system. Support: Customized open-source and commercial software for data analysis are offered in conjunction. Cell Therapy Core Introduction: NSU’s Cell Therapy Core Facility provides expertise in processing of cells from primary tissues; expansion and differentiation of cells, including immune and stem cells; genetic modification of cells by viral vectors; and development of cell-based therapy products; among other services. Application: Quality assurance and control are essential to complying with NIH and FDA guidelines. Technology: NSU ensures a high-quality research environment by providing a HEPA filter, particle-controlled GLP-quality cell and tissue processing laboratory. Support: The lab boasts well-established SOP-driven processes and technical/lab support by experienced staff assistants. For a description of services, equipment, and pricing, or to request a quote, please visit nova.edu/research/core-facilities or reach out via email. Robin Krueger, Ph.D. Scientific Director for Research Facilities email@example.com CONTACT NOVA S OU T H E AS T E RN UN I V E R S I T Y Scan to email.
6 NSU CLINICAL TRIAL AND LICENSING OPPORTUNITIES Room to Breathe Starting out in an amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) clinic as a University of South Florida student in Tampa, Florida, Lauren Tabor Gray, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, noted a lack of interventions. Loss of breathing and inability to clear the airway are the leading causes of death among ALS patients, yet “We had absolutely nothing to offer these patients as a speech pathologist or respiratory therapist,” Tabor Gray said. The modus operandi was to wait until breathing became bad and then use an exterior breathing device, such as a noninvasive volume ventilator. Patients with less fragile diseases like Parkinson’s disease have benefited from exercise programs and Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT) for decades. During her doctoral studies, Tabor Gray mentored under the first clinical researcher to investigate early intervention respiratory training in ALS, Emily Plowman, Ph.D. The pursuit became the focus of her doctoral degree work in neurorehabilitation. In her own line of research, she further investigated exercise-based respiratory interventions that are implemented early in the disease to improve function over time and to mitigate the loss of critical breathing and swallowing functions. Last year, her lifelong dedication to ALS patients led her to NSU. NSU boasts the largest speech-language pathology master’s degree program in the country, she noted. The juxtaposition in resources for academics and research opened new doors and paved the way to securing larger grants that can help ALS and other patient populations as well. “My team and I have received smaller foundation grants in the past, but we needed an administrative research team to help collate all the ancillary documents needed to secure our first U.S. Department of Defense grant,” Tabor Gray said. “At NSU, everyone rallies behind you.” Attending the NSU Grant Lab Chat sessions opened Tabor Gray’s eyes to “all the things that were possible and the people poised to help connect the silos that can exist within a university.” She also leveraged NSU’s grant writing assistance and carved out time for research writing thanks to the support of leadership at the NSU Health Neuroscience Institute. When research implications extend beyond the lab, NSU’s Office of Clinical Research steps in to help. Our experts support investigative teams through standardized procedures and regulatory and operational assistance. Best practices ensure participant safety as NSU advances human health through clinical trials. One bonus? Faculty members from across the university can collaborate with these centralized colleagues whose own bodies of work are impressive. Here are two stories to that point. The primary question of the new grant is whether an early intervention can be implemented that combines lung volume recruitment and expiratory muscle strength training to improve breathing, airway protection, and clearance in patients. “The study fills a very important gap in current literature,” Tabor Gray added. We need to know if professionals can intervene early and if such interventions change the trajectory of decline in the short term, with longer-term outcome implications. Among the other grant facets is the ability to work with a respiratory physiotherapist in Melbourne, Australia, who has been performing a standard of care for ALS patients that has not yet been introduced in the United States. For Tabor Gray’s purposes, the team is using FDA-approved devices that have just never been combined with ALS treatment in this country. “What I like about clinical research is that you can implement it pretty directly,” Tabor Gray said. “There are not a lot of steps in between what we are doing in this grant and what we are able to use in a clinic with an actual patient.”
Candid Smiles Years ago, NSU’s participation with an early product test and premarketing study helped launch one of the most-used whitening products in the market, recalled Cristina Godoy, D.D.S., M.P.H., CCRP. The team witnessed the evolution of the product and provided research supporting a successful bid for the ADA seal from the American Dental Association. Fast-forward to today, when NSU continues to have a hand in advancing consumer dental products. One study is testing a new whitening delivery method for over-the-counter use. And Godoy was part of the recently released U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on Oral Health. She is also collaborating with Andrew Ozga, Ph.D., on the microbiome pertaining to oral health and working with Toshihisa Kawai, D.D.S., Ph.D., and Mark Cayabyab, Ph.D., on identifying oral biomarkers related to COVID-19 infections. Understanding the why fuels Godoy’s passion: “Why are we doing things that way?” “What is the best product for this procedure, this particular patient treatment?” Obtaining evidence brings satisfaction. “We want to contribute to the backstage of dentistry and other health fields, so clinicians can make informed, effective, evidence-based decisions for clinical care,” Godoy said. “That’s my main goal—to add on to the evidence, helping people achieve their vision for improving health care.” LICENSING OPPORTUNITIES NSU’s Office of Technology Transfer identifies and helps researchers negotiate the protection and commercialization of intellectual and technological inventions. We invite you to browse through the university’s list of available technologies and reach out to us if any of them suit your commercial interests. Together, we can help these technologies fulfill their commercial potential and make a positive social impact. CLINICAL TRIAL OPPORTUNITIES Susan Breno, CCRC Manager, Clinical Research firstname.lastname@example.org CONTACTS TABOR GRAY GODOY NOVA S OU T H E AS T E RN UN I V E R S I T Y Scan for more. Scan for more. Scan to email. Junko Kazumi, Ph.D. Director of Technology Transfer email@example.com Arunodoy Sur, Ph.D. Technology Licensing Officer firstname.lastname@example.org Scan to email. Scan to email. 7 Scan for more.
8 Guy Harvey Oceanographic Research Center Noble: NSU’s Guy Harvey Oceanographic Research Center was awarded LEED® Silver Certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. The 87,000-square-foot research facility occupies a 6-acre site on NSU’s 10-acre Oceanographic Campus nestled within Dr. Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park, with easy access to Florida’s coral reef. Advanced tools and resources allow students, researchers, and the community to study oceanographic and environmental issues affecting one of earth’s greatest natural resources: coral reef ecosystems. Notable: Dedicated labs facilitate ongoing research related to conservation biology and genetics, microbiology and genetics, systems biology and genetics, coral histology, coral monitoring and restoration, stony coral, deep-sea biology, ichthyology, invertebrates, physical oceanography, remote sensing and geographic information system (GIS) mapping, and reproduction and evolution. Novel: The National Coral Reef Institute (NCRI) was established by congressional mandate in 1998 and operates out of the Guy Harvey Oceanographic Research Center, making NSU the largest coral reef research center in the world. The NCRI is recognized by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as one of its external research institutes. NSU research scientists and students utilize both offshore and onshore nurseries to grow “new” corals, which are then outplanted to reefs to help them rebound from stressors such as increasing ocean temperatures. NSU’s nursery is also used to house corals and other reef organisms that must be quarantined before transfer to other facilities. Most recently, the nursery has become a safe harbor for multiple coral species traumatized by stony coral tissue loss disease and removed from various reefs until this mortality threat subsides. NSU’s Guy Harvey Oceanographic Research Center is also the headquarters for the Broward County Sea Turtle Conservation Program. NSU researchers and volunteers monitor 24 miles of county beaches, mark turtle nests, and collect data for local, state, and federal conservation agencies. A celebrated design masterpiece is one anchor for NSU’s Halmos College of Arts and Sciences. Named for the world-renowned wildlife artist and conservationist, the Guy Harvey Oceanographic Research Center is home to the Guy Harvey Research Institute (GHRI), the Save Our Seas Shark Foundation Research Centre (SOSF-SRC), and the National Coral Reef Institute (NCRI), to name three highlights. NSU RESEARCH HUB HIGHLIGHTS $37.4 Million college funding awards for FY 2022 $3.89 Million latest funding for coral disease research By the Numbers
DIVING DEEP Into the Abyss The DEEPEND Consortium—comprising more than 120 participants to date, including over 40 NSU graduate students— continues to work around critical pre-disaster data gaps to assess long-term impact. DEEPEND research encompasses studies of biodiversity, ocean circulation, genetics/genomics, contamination, carbon cycling, and numerical modeling. DEEPEND’s biodiversity studies have changed the way we look at the open ocean. For example, 1 out of every 10 fish species now known to live in the Gulf of Mexico was identified by DEEPEND research. Tracey T. Sutton, Ph.D., and his consortium of scientists note signs of resiliency among the smallest organisms (plankton), but declines of larger animal populations appear to be ongoing. Thus, a decade later, we have no indication that the Deepwater Horizon disaster is over. Long-term population trends are a focus of DEEPEND’s funding from the NOAA RESTORE Science Program. Apart from the oil-spill assessment, DEEPEND’s deep-sea research has global implications. During the day, scores of deep-pelagic nekton (fishes, crustaceans, and cephalopods) hide from predators in the deep, dark depths. At night, they rise to feed on plankton and micronekton in surface waters. This process drives the “biological pump,” which is the ocean’s primary way of locking carbon in the deep sea. “Without deep-pelagic animals to transport carbon into the deep-water column, the only place for carbon to go is into our atmosphere,” Sutton explained. “A crash below means a crash above. And that includes commercial fisheries. So, these remain trillion- dollar questions worldwide.” Deep-sea realms remain largely understudied, even as human encroachment and resource extraction continuously rises. The Deepwater Horizon exploded in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010. The ensuing oil/gas leak at the wellhead 5,000 feet below caused the largest and deepest marine oil spill in history. NSU’s Tracey T. Sutton, Ph.D., developed an ongoing program to understand the effect on the Deep Gulf. 9 NOVA S OU T H E AS T E RN UN I V E R S I T Y Deep Awareness Tamara Frank, Ph.D., is a consortium scientist and fellow NSU professor who helped develop new methods to collect deep-sea animals without exposing them to lethal temperature changes or blinding light levels. Her deep-sea findings illuminate scientific understanding while connecting students with real university research. Through a new National Science Foundation grant to study the visual ecology of shrimp found at the deep-sea hydrothermal vents, students on Native American reservations in South Dakota and Colorado will also learn about oceanic research and how organisms relate and adapt to their surroundings. Frank will be presenting two- and three-day sessions on visual ecology with multiple hands-on activities. For example, using “portholes” covered with blue filters, students will be able to see what deep-sea animals see and understand why deep-sea animals do not have color vision. “There’s no visible downwelling light below 1,000 meters, yet a lot of animals below these depths have large and lovely eyes,” Frank said. “So, they have to be specialized for seeing bioluminescence.” Such ideas inspire researchers and students alike. SUTTON Scan for more. FRANK Scan for more.
10 NSU CORE RESEARCH FACILITIES NSU EDUCATIONAL OUTREACH HIGHLIGHTS Alvin Sherman Library, Research, and Information Technology Center Noble: The library hosts the Open Classroom series by NSU’s Farquhar Honors College and much more. The downstairs children’s area includes a multipurpose breakout room for multigenerational events. The student-run NSU Writing and Communications Center provides assistance to students and residents alike. Programming includes financial literacy workshops, computer camps, music and culture festivals, and genealogy education. Notable: NSU’s Alvin Sherman Library is also home to the Craig and Barbara Weiner Holocaust Museum of South Florida and the Holocaust Visual History Archive; the 500-seat Rose and Alfred Miniaci Performing Arts Center; the 150-seat Adolfo and Marisela Cotilla Gallery; and the Morton and Geraldine Terry Atrium, used for special events. Novel: For years, budding entrepreneurs, like the founders of Banana Wave, have incubated their businesses alongside doctoral students conducting dissertation research. Now, a new public-private partnership, the Alan B. Levan | NSU Broward Center of Innovation, spans the entire top floor. Famously referred to as “The World’s First Theme Park for Entrepreneurs,” the center supports the founder’s journey and provides programs, events, and wraparound services, so early-stage start-ups can scale up their business. One of Florida’s largest public library buildings belongs to the private research university, NSU. Towering five stories, the 325,000-square-foot research hub just marked its 20th anniversary as a unique, joint-use collaboration with Broward County, Florida. It is the home library to NSU faculty members and students, as well as people across Broward County, of all ages, and even overseas. 250,000 average number of items circulated per year 147,356 number of library cards issued since opening day 1,000,000+ annual number of visits to the library’s online databases HOURS: Library by the Numbers Public Access Mon.–Thurs. 7:00 a.m.–11:00 p.m. Friday 7:00 a.m.–10:00 p.m. Saturday 7:00 a.m.–8:00 p.m. Sunday 10:00 a.m.–11:00 p.m. Scan for more.
11 NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale Noble: The NSU Art Museum’s celebrated permanent collection contains more than 7,500 works and is known for its significant collection of Latin American, contemporary art with an emphasis on women, Black and Latinx artists, and African art that spans the 19th to the 21st century. Notable: The NSU Art Museum’s 83,000-square-foot building contains 25,000 square feet of exhibition space, a 256-seat auditorium, and a museum store and cafe. Among its highlights is the country’s largest collection of 19th and early 20th century paintings and drawings by the American realist William Glackens, and the most extensive holding in the United States of works by post-World War II, avant-garde CoBrA (artists from Copenhagen, Brussels, and Amsterdam, who resisted German occupation during World War II and emerged in the war’s wake). Novel: Two scholarly research centers complement the collections: the Dr. Stanley and Pearl Goodman Latin American Art Study Center and the William J. Glackens Study Center. The NSU Art Museum provides access to the highest level of visual artistic expression throughout time and from around the world. Diverse exhibitions, dynamic public programs, and an exceptional collection combine to inspire audience members of all ages, while fostering original research and intellectual inquiry. Situated midway between Miami-Dade and Palm Beach, in the heart of downtown Fort Lauderdale, the NSU Art Museum is the hub of the South Florida art coast. NSU Marine Environmental Education Center Another successful NSU/Broward County partnership is the Marine Environmental Education Center (MEEC) at the historic Carpenter House in Hollywood, Florida. Visitors enjoy hands-on learning, animal encounters that include live turtle feedings, and conservation fun that extends to the sand dunes and ocean’s edge. Interactive marine conservation displays, local art exhibitions, the charms of a historic property, and a gift shop complete the experience. Notable: Programming for school groups offers a curriculum tailored to marine and coastal ecosystems. Novel: In addition to helping visitors explore the wonders of South Florida’s beach ecosystems, the MEEC staff members host sea turtle release events during the summer. This is in collaboration with the Broward County Sea Turtle Conservation Program, which is operated by NSU. HOURS: Tues.–Sat. 11:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. Sunday Noon–5:00 p.m. Open until 7:00 p.m. the first Thursday of each month. HOURS: Tues.–Sat. 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. NOVA S OU T H E AS T E RN UN I V E R S I T Y Scan for more. Scan for more.
THE FRONT LINE No battle station can be left unmanned, nor gained ground left unchecked, when it comes to waging war on disease. Artillery is outdated. Advancements meet resistance. Surviving microbes pass along intelligence. Many lines of defense help limited populations. Some therapies mitigate one threat while introducing new dangers. Old enemies elude us still. Infectious agents reemerge. And easily curable diseases can turn deadly again. Warrior researchers, their Cutting off a tumor’s blood supply is one strategy that hallmarks research by Appu Rathinavelu, Ph.D., and his team. Six patents have been issued and one patent for treating a brain cancer called glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is in their sights. The next step is to clinically establish the efficacy of the team’s novel therapies in treating patients suffering from solid tumors. NSU aims to form collaborations with pharmaceutical companies that can facilitate clinical trials and commercial development of therapeutic treatments for the benefit of cancer patients. Human Disease highly skilled teams, and students are making valuable discoveries and contributions as the following eight examples demonstrate. For most, funding from agencies and philanthropists have helped catapult their campaigns to critical points for humanity. Now, mission completion depends on licensing and trial opportunities. The end goals include economic development across the state and nation and increased survival rates and quality-of-life improvements across the globe. Operation GBM 14 D R O B I S O N T I A D E M E P U R P O S R E D R G N E N T I I N V A T E M L R C N C E R R S T B E A M I N O N O M E L A N A T R A I H N V L E U A N I C A N C E R O O S L I D G U MINOND LATIMER ROBISON RATHINAVELU Scan for more. B A I N T U M
NOVA S OU T H E AS T E RN UN I V E R S I T Y Chemotherapy agents often target cancer cell DNA. But cancer cells can evade death by repairing the damage. Worse, such reversals often trigger drug resistance and increase the probability of tumor recurrence. Jean Latimer, Ph.D., and her team homed in on nucleotide excision repair (NER) and invented a way to inhibit genes essential to NER function in malignant cells. This could spur new procedures for treating certain late-stage breast tumors. Latimer’s invention, related to the use of NER treatment of cancer, is available for licensing. Some melanoma treatments render healthy cells toxic. Others are prone to resistance. Preliminary data show that pharmacological and genomic modulation (influencing gene expression levels without changing the cellular DNA) adjusted immune pathways expression. Armed with this, Dmitriy Minond, Ph.D., investigated whether spliceosomal modulation could overcome drug resistance by potentially regulating malignant cells that try to stimulate an immune response. Minond is responsible for two therapeutic patents— one for treating metastatic melanoma and one for treating rheumatoid arthritis. Cerebral amyloid angiopathy (CAA) contributes to the risk of stroke, cognitive decline, and several forms of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. Evidence suggests that taking some high blood pressure medicines that target the renin-angiotensin system is associated with a reduced risk of dementia, but no one has looked at whether they affect CAA or the buildup of proteins on blood vessel walls. So, Lisa Robison, Ph.D., is testing common drugs for new fields of combat, as repurposed drugs can also reduce the risk of negative effects. Operation NER Operation Spliceosome Operation CAA 15 Scan for more. Scan for more. Scan for more.
With no single underlying cause to pinpoint, patients can suffer for years without diagnosis of a complex disease. Even then, prognosis setbacks persist. Infectious agents wreak havoc. Multiple prescriptions multiply side effect risks. And environmental, genetic, and lifestyle factors compound fallout. To navigate such tough terrain, Travis Craddock, Ph.D., There is a mechanism by which bacteria resist antibiotics called the “inoculum effect.” While researchers have known about it since the 1950s/1960s, no one has been able to describe how it occurs across all antibiotics. Robert Smith, Ph.D., and some of his students discovered an answer, prompting further study. Opportunistic pathogens infect Clearing Landmines The Inoculum Effect is developing a computational pipeline that implements artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to design better therapeutic strategies. Another line of defense emerging from Craddock’s lab is a metadatabase for mapping interactions between drugs, genes, and proteins so doctors can identify potential adverse effects for treatments involving multiple drugs. R A T A B A S C A D D O C K M E T A O T A N I B I I S I C R E S C E T A N S M T H I D O N O A T E L D S I A E E S H N L I W A K M I N F L A M T I O N E N O C L O M O N N A I T B I D E S C I N A Y B A Y C B V A S P E N G T R C K I 16
NOVA S OU T H E AS T E RN UN I V E R S I T Y 17 people who are immunocompromised or who have primary infections. Typically, bacteria counteract the antibiotic’s effect by changing an aspect of their genetics. With the inoculum effect, however, bacteria band together to avoid sustained impact. Smith plans to design adjuvants to administer alongside antibiotics that will stunt or prevent such harmful alliances from forming. People with periodontitis unwittingly pump scores of bacteria into blood circulation every day, just from eating or brushing their teeth. Toshihisa Kawai, D.D.S., Ph.D., and his research group discovered that overactivation of bacteria-reactive lymphocytes in gum tissue causes pathogenic bone destruction. The pathogenic property is what permits periodontal bacteria to penetrate circulation and deliver bacterial virulence factors to remote organs. A recent study, for example, found periodontal bacteria in the brain of patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Fortunately, Kawai’s lab also excels in the generation of therapeutic monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) and has developed a unique method of generating mAbs with the potential to treat periodontitis and related bone-destructive diseases, including osteoporosis, bone cancer metastasis, and rheumatoid arthritis. The Periodontitis Plague THE FRONT LINE Human Disease Extreme inflammation is a well-known indicator of immune-mediated diseases, but the regulatory activities of IL-10 expressing regulatory B cells (B10 cells) and their potential role in resolving inflammation is not well understood. Xiaozhe Han, D.M.D., Ph.D., together with Kawai, aim to complete the picture. One facet is how B10 cells promote production of specialized pro-resolving mediators (SPM). Reconnaissance of the actions of SPM and their roles on innate and adaptive immune responses could lay the groundwork for identifying diagnostic markers and therapeutic targets to facilitate treatment of periodontal disease and potentially other immune- mediated osteolytic conditions such as osteoporosis or rheumatoid arthritis. Second-Strike Capability The world has lived with the HIV/AIDS pandemic for four decades and the COVID-19 pandemic for three years. A new patent granted to Mark Cayabyab, Ph.D., and his collaborators protects proposed technology with clinical potential to develop therapies for inflammatory, allergic, and autoimmune diseases. One bonus is that Cayabyab’s approach involves oral inoculation. (The oral polio vaccine is a past example of this noninvasive method.) His novel strategy was used to construct a recombinant A Vaccine to Salivate Over vector that expresses HIV antigens. Initial testing demonstrated an ability to induce B- and T-cell responses, which means that mucosal antibodies can be implemented to prevent penetration of the mucosa by pathogens such as HIV. This is an important breakthrough, as there currently is no cure or vaccine, to treat Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrom (AIDS). Better still, clinical potential is not limited to HIV vaccine and licensing is possible. CRADDOCK SMITH KAWAI HAN CAYABYAB Scan for more. Scan for more. Scan QR code for Clearing Landmines brief. Scan QR code for The Inoculum Effect brief.
INTERFACES One character separates cure from care. One’s character can propel pursuit of both. At NSU, researchers explore expressions of well-being and cast for answers to complex conditions. This requires casting a net not only over patients, but their surroundings. And caring not only for patients, but those who surround them. Everything must be considered—in, out, and around. Even a cure cannot guarantee a person’s well-being. Addressing all points of interaction or interfaces can. Of course, that is easier said than done. Behind each interface is a system unto its own. And circumstances continually change. Human Condition Tools and Training The Florida S.T.E.P.S. initiative (School Toolkit for K–12 Educators to Prevent Suicide) is based on 40 years of work by Scott Poland, Ed.D. In 2021, NSU distributed a tangible binder with tips, tools, assessments, and references to public and private schools across the state. Since then, Poland has embarked upon a three-phase training expedition. He and his team trained several hundred school administrators and/or mental health personnel in each of the county school districts of Palm Beach, Miami-Dade, and Hillsborough. The third charge in the current grant is to form a parent advisory group. Poland received the Helping Parkland Heal Award for providing psychological strategic planning and training for staff members and parents immediately after the 2018 school shooting. Suicide prevention is an ongoing process requiring widespread involvement. Trauma and Heart Health Over the past 20 years, research findings have reinforced a link between post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and cardio- vascular disease risk. For example, past studies by Jeff Kibler, Ph.D., and his research team, show there are higher rates of unhealthy lipids, high blood pressure, and obesity in individuals with PTSD. But there has been little focus on the treatment of PTSD-related health problems. Kibler and his team are exploring factors such as sleep, stress management, and nutrition. The goal is to help individuals who treat PTSD address both psychological and physical health risks. Doctoral student and research coordinator Abby Dopico is training other clinical psychology students to conduct cardiovascular assessments for the project. Research assistants are also learning to implement the intervention. 18 Scan for more. Scan for more.
NOVA S OU T H E AS T E RN UN I V E R S I T Y Mind Wandering After a decade of studying pieces of the overall model examining the impact of stress on inflammation and cognition, Jonathan Banks, Ph.D., and Jaime Tartar, Ph.D., set out to test their full model. Their two labs show that mind wandering is a cause and consequence of stress. Inflammation often occurs during chronic periods of stress. Exploring the role of mind wandering and propensity for negative thoughts related to stress could lead to targeted behavioral interventions, to protect attention and reduce inflammation. Inflammation occurs when the immune system is responding to an irritant. To recommend how people can redirect attention and action toward the actual irritant—stress—the team aims to quantify a range of biomarkers and build a better model of what is happening in the chronic stress system. Chronic Suffering The U.S. deployed around 800,000 troops to the Kuwait region during the Persian Gulf War (1990–1991). An estimated 25–30 percent came back ill. Most still suffer from a chronic condition now called Gulf War illness (GWI). Current medical treatment only addresses symptoms. The need to fully understand the mechanisms of the disease persists. A new grant is helping Lubov Nathanson, Ph.D., to evaluate GWI patients and build upon prior work. From blood samples, Nathanson will study individual white blood cells and evaluate B- and T-cell receptors and inflammatory gene expression changes in all immune cell types using state-of-the-art single cell RNA sequencing technology. The technique identifies which exact immune cells are causing problems. Better therapeutic targets could help doctors treat GWI, not just its resulting symptoms. Dignity and Daring In three to five years, individuals with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease) typically become dependent on machines to support daily activities. Patients ultimately succumb. Eduardo Locatelli, M.D., M.P.H., hopes to aid these patients he refers to as pALS by developing interventions that slow disease progression and improve quality of life. Maintaining independence and improving survivorship while working toward a cure are top goals. His NSU Health clinic offers expert care for pALS and caregivers, as well as patients and loved ones grappling with Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Since the clinic is multidisciplinary, pALS are seen by multiple specialists in the same visit. The clinic is now located within NSU’s Center for Collaborative Research building. Business Ailments Research by Xiaochuan Song, Ph.D., and Baiyun Gong, Ph.D., involves investigating workplace isolation, organizational justice, and negative consequences, like turnover, which can cost a company 33–50 percent of an employee’s annual salary, according to some reports. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that Florida ranks in the top 10 states with the highest turnover rate. In response to the pandemic, more than 75 percent of U.S. organizations have implemented remote working arrangements. An NSU community partner interviewed local business leaders and confirmed that most will adopt a mix of in-person and remote work modes. But remote work can amplify negative dynamics and proliferate inaccurate evaluations. Song and Gong aim to help business leaders with research-backed development of innovative solutions. KIBLER NATHANSON SONG POLAND 19 TARTAR LOCATELLI BANKS Scan for more. Scan for more. Scan for more. Scan for more.
20 BRANCHING OUT Botany Disease Sensing Disease Electronic versions of the human eyes, nose, and tongue can help diagnose botany disease, according to Jose Ramos, Ph.D. And these innovative devices are inexpensive and mobile. Other tools, such as quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR), cannot be used in the field and require advanced training. Ramos uses all three e-Devices to capture data from sabal palm trees and detect lethal bronzing disease (LBD). The e-Nose recognizes when an infected plant releases specific volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The e-Tongue tests the sap that transports LBD disease when introduced by piercing-sucking insects. The e-Eyes relay a wavelength spectrum that becomes a signature representation of that tree’s health condition. Ramos’ team, which includes biomedical engineering students, found the machine learning model’s prediction accuracy to be 100 percent. Natural Pesticides Billions have been spent using pesticides to mitigate crop damage. For 15 years, Aurelien Tartar, Ph.D., has analyzed biocontrol agents (microbes) to search for genes that could help manufacture new insecticides. Proteomics is a tool that could hold the key to identifying novel biopesticides in mold-like organisms. Realizing that extensive experience in this technique would prove critical, Tartar applied for, and won, a sabbatical grant to advance his training in proteomics. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and its National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) funded the scientific training Tartar requested. Following his sabbatical, Tartar plans to submit a pilot study on identifying novel biopesticides to the USDA. RAMOS RENEGAR WALKER TARTAR e e e NEELY Scan for more. Scan for more.
NOVA S OU T H E AS T E RN UN I V E R S I T Y 21 Animal Disease REEF REVIVAL Part I When coral disease hit South Florida nine years ago, the largest, oldest coral colonies in the region began dying in a matter of weeks. Brian Walker, Ph.D., was serendipitously mapping these corals, some larger than minivans and more than 300 years old, to highlight their important ecological functions and recognized a dire need. So, he directed his focus on the emerging calamity and forged strong collaborations with experts in coral reef disease. Walker’s team was the first group performing disease interventions on the reefs in 2018. The team currently visits about 100 corals monthly to save these corals, track spatial and temporal disease patterns, and study why some corals are more resistant to the disease. Under Construction Part II When a devastating coral disease that originated in South Florida spread into the Florida Keys and elsewhere in the Caribbean, Karen Neely, Ph.D., sprang into action. Armed with a Florida Department of Environmental Protection grant, she and her team began developing in-water intervention strategies. The result was a topical medicine for dying corals. Every two months, more than a dozen priority reefs are visited to monitor the treatments; apply additional medicine, if needed; and collect information on the health of affected corals. Health histories of several thousand corals have been aggregated as a result. In addition, Neely has provided training and information to other professionals working in areas experiencing this disease to try to mitigate this underwater outbreak. Part I Scan for more. Part II Scan for more. Part III Threatened corals have found refuge and a chance to repopulate thanks to NSU’s onshore nursery and coral propagation efforts by Abigail Renegar, Ph.D. Fragmentation from adult colonies yields smaller corals that grow faster, so they can be replanted to help reefs rebound sooner. Disease is a recent reason NSU nursery work has intensified. Displacement from dredging and bulkhead replacements is another. Additional “stressors” like increasing ocean temperatures and toxins also prompt recovery and rescue efforts. As of February 2023, NSU is caring for more than 300 coral colonies and 4,000 coral fragments; more than 1,500 corals from the nursery have already been transplanted. NSU’s nursery comprises eight 400-gallon raceways—the SEACOR system that includes thirty individual tanks and two indoor propagation systems with two 200-gallon raceways each. All boast independent life-support systems. Part III Scan for more.
22 INTERSECTIONS Crossover Impact Ripple Effects Skin cancer is the most common cancer worldwide. But absorption poses the risk, not mere sun exposure. Absorption of ultraviolet light generates molecular vibrations that can structurally damage DNA, leading to a mutation and, possibly, cancer. Brian Van Hoozen, Ph.D., proposes that DNA damage may be avoided by neutralizing light-induced vibrations with the vibrations of nearby water molecules. The first step, however, is understanding how DNA vibrates and the role the solvent plays in those vibrations. Using quantum mechanical calculations and infrared spectroscopy, Van Hoozen and Maria Ballester, Ph.D., hope to see how often vibrations pass from DNA to water molecules, and if it is a common mechanism by which skin cancer is avoided. Hybrid Studies Research projects by Jose Lopez, Ph.D., on genomic sequences of essential microbes bear significance for both ecology and biomedical science. Plants and animals are two major groups of living organisms. Understanding how organisms relate to one another can help address diseases that impact one or both, including humans. Bryozoans are microscopic marine invertebrates known to produce bioactive compounds (bryostatins) that have multiple potential therapeutic applications for treating cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. Lopez’s lab characterized the genome of a bryozoan named Bugula Neritina, which contributed to two large-scale genome projects. Another study may reveal environmental and anthropogenic triggers, so scientists can prevent repeat occurrence of harmful algae blooms. Such blooms drive away aquatic life and produce toxins that can sicken or kill people and animals. A collaborative shark study with Mahmood Shivji, Ph.D., could improve bite-treatment protocols. Under Construction
NOVA S OU T H E AS T E RN UN I V E R S I T Y Cancer and Space Randall Gregg, Ph.D., is currently pursuing three areas of research. One centers on microgravity impact upon the immune system and cancer growth. Dendritic cells coordinate the T-cell response, which is key to successful cancer immunotherapy. Gregg has shown that simulated microgravity differentially activates dendritic cells with modulating affects upon T-cell activity, possibly accounting for dysfunctional immune reactivity demonstrated by astronauts of longterm spaceflight. The lab has been working on how microgravity influences melanoma cell growth, viability, and susceptibility to T-cell cytotoxicity. The work will lead to a NASA proposal to investigate the findings aboard the space station. Insight into how the stress of microgravity influences immunity and cancer may have great benefit to patients on earth. VAN HOOZEN GREGG LOPEZ 23 Scan for more. Scan for more. Scan for more.
24 REVELATIONS Teaching Aids Surf Breaks Imagine surfing school. Early on, all types of students are on board with learning STEM subjects. Later, fears arise about traversing the waters of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Interest shifts among girls especially. Hui Fang (Angie) Su, Ed.D., and co- principal investigators Jia Borror, Ed.D., and Teri Williams, Ph.D., recently explored interventions to tide them over. Her team worked with 37 young women in ninth grade from low socioeconomic backgrounds. Over 15 weeks, the students attended art-based workshops covering botany, chemistry, microbiology, and more—think tai chi paired with engineering, beads with astrophysics/astrochemistry, hydrophobicity with making boba tea balls, and music with medicine. The results suggest a three-prong approach: early outreach; a sustained, nationwide program for girls; and advanced opportunities for those showing positive relationships with STEM. SU Scan for more.
NOVA S OU T H E AS T E RN UN I V E R S I T Y Undergrad Research Arthur Sikora, Ph.D., finds biochemistry and molecular biology fascinating. He thinks students can, too, when combining lessons with research. He and a group of collaborators recently funded by the National Science Foundation are implementing modules that move students away from rote memorization to engagement in the scientific process. The grant investigates course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs). Sikora already introduced a CURE curriculum to his class. Students use in silico tools to predict the function of a protein and then use in vitro methods to study the protein in the lab. This and other CUREs are designed to be adaptable to instructors and course structure variables. They also target commonly assessed learning outcomes. Next steps include meeting with professors across the country to identify barriers to CURE adoption and designing CUREs that can be interdisciplinary to reach more students. 360-Degree Learning The use of 360-degree immersive virtual reality (iVR) videos in higher education is nascent, but already in play at NSU. Martha Snyder, Ph.D., joined forces with Steven Kramer, Ph.D., to implement iVR vignettes in a master’s degree-level Quality Management course. After classroom learning, students entered a furniture store via iVR. Sights and sounds presented around them as store employees assembled chairs. The video could be stopped and started to point out potential areas of waste in the assembly process. Students were able to take notes and participate in breakout sessions—all in virtual-reality spaces. Quantitative data from two surveys and qualitative data through interviews will help gauge how well the videos foster quality management competencies and how students perceive their experience. The goal is to connect theory with technology and technology to people, as well as to understand how to best use iVR to facilitate experiential learning. SIKORA SNYDER 25 Scan for more. Scan for more.
26 Homeless Healthfulness Susceptibility to dementia and early onset aging are two health disparities among people experiencing homelessness. The current research of Gesulla Cavanaugh, Ph.D., builds upon a previous project funded by the American Heart Association to explore health outcomes impacting such individuals. She and her team are investigating how repeated exposure to stressors (i.e., chronic stress) may spur development of dementia. Health literacy and rapid screening scores using the Montreal Cognitive Assessment Test (MoCA) comprise some of the data collection. Raymond Ownby, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A., developed a tool on health literacy. Patrick Hardigan, Ph.D., is assisting with statistical analysis. A neurologist from Nicklaus Children’s Hospital is providing analysis related to blood samples, grip strength, MoCA scores, and electrical activity of the brain. PROTOCOLS Health Equity Survivor Care The efficacy of trauma-informed care depends upon how well survivors feel about the care they received. That’s the premise behind a new study by Sandrine Gaillard-Kenney, Ed.D., and co-principal investigator Brianna Kent, Ph.D. One twist, however, is the use of a participatory method called photovoice. After receiving dental care, human trafficking survivors will be prompted to take photos in their environment throughout the following week. During a debriefing, participants relay the meaning behind a photo and how it relates to their dental experience. Communicating through photographs can be less threatening than surveys. Survivors often have not had access to health care in years, let alone dental care. Their input can improve care and help secure funding to provide tailored services. ? ? ? ? ? ?nova.edu