WID Researchers Looking to the Future with UW2020 Awards

Fourteen investigators from the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery are principal investigators, co-PIs, and collaborators on the latest round of UW2020 awards from the WARF Discovery Initiative. Of the 17 innovative projects, with an average award amount of $432,442, seven include WID faculty, staff, and Discovery Fellows.

The projects were chosen from 111 proposals submitted from across the UW–Madison Campus. The initiative is funded by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation.

This is the fourth round of UW2020 project selections and brings the total UW2020 projects to 66, since the first round awards were announced in 2016. The goal of UW2020 is to stimulate and support cutting edge, highly innovative and groundbreaking research at UW–Madison and the acquisition of shared instruments or equipment that will open new avenues for innovative and significant research.

“While previous rounds of UW2020 projects are now maturing and realizing their potential, we are excited to infuse the initiative with a new class of inspiring and novel projects that continue to showcase UW–Madison’s highly competitive and forward-thinking world-class faculty and staff researchers,” says Norman Drinkwater, interim vice chancellor for research and graduate education. “UW–Madison remains very grateful to WARF for continuing to support and partner with us on this initiative.”

The Graduate School also is supplying direct support for some research assistants.

Krishanu Saha, assistant professor of biomedical engineering at WID, studies human cell engineering, including CRISPR gene editing and epigenetic reprogramming. Saha is the lead investigator on a project to generate new CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing tools capable of making precise edits to new types of tissues, expanding the impact of genomic medicine to treat new diseases. He is also a co-PI on a project to establish advanced gene editing technologies on campus to accelerate researchers’ ability to create genetically modified animal models of human disease.

WID’s Data Science Hub is also partially funded by UW2020 with principal investigator and professor of statistics Brian Yandell. WID researchers Michael Ferris, Lauren Michael, and Robert Nowak are co-PIs.

The following are the seven projects in which WID investigators are involved. The full list of fourth round UW2020 proposals is available here.

Advancing CRISPR-mediated Genome Editing Technology at UW–Madison to Model Human Disease
Co-Investigator: Krishanu Saha

Building a Translational Research Pipeline to Personalize Diabetes Prevention and Treatment
Collaborator: Federico Rey

Gene Editing Nanomedicines to Correct Pathogenic Mutations in Retinal Pigmented Epithelium
Principal Investigator: Krishanu Saha
Co-Principal Investigator: Shaoqin Sarah Gong

Toxoplasma Infection and Brain Function
Co-Principal Investigator: Sushmita Roy

Accelerating Lead Optimization to Clinical Application Using Microscale Thermophoresis to Quantify Molecular Interactions
Collaborators: John Denu, John Yin

Acquisition of an Illumnina NovaSeq Next Generation DNA Sequencer for UW–Madison
Co-Principal Investigators: David Baum, Jo Handelsman, Federico Rey, Rupa Sridharan

Data Science Hub for UW–Madison
Principal Investigator: Brian Yandell
Co-Principal Investigators: Michael Ferris, Lauren Michael, Robert Nowak

A version of this story first appeared at research.wisc.edu.