NDSU awarded $20 million grant for cancer research, industry collaborations

NDSU awarded $20 million grant for cancer research, industry collaborations

NDSU has received a five-year, $20-million grant from the National Science Foundation through the North Dakota Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, known as ND EPSCoR. The funding has two goals: research to better understand cancer and its interactions with bone, and an industry partnership to grow North Dakota’s bioscience and technology sectors.

“We are incredibly excited to have landed this grant from the National Science Foundation,” said NDSU President Dean L. Bresciani. “The funds awarded to NDSU will not only help advance crucial research, but also have an enormous impact on the well-being of our great state during these challenging economic times. Now more than ever, the contribution of our research universities is an absolutely crucial underpinning to the future of our state.” 

The award brings together researchers in computational science, material science and engineering, and cellular systems. The long-term goal is the development of technologies and therapies that better address the treatment of metastasized cancer. 

An exciting piece of this effort is the contribution from researchers and students at several North Dakota higher education institutions. Beginning July 1, the grant will fund a collaborative Center for Cellular Biointerfaces in Science and Engineering among 10 campuses. The center will integrate education efforts, build a diverse workforce and enhance partnerships and collaborations that strengthen research infrastructure and competitiveness. 

NDSU University Distinguished Professor Kalpana Katti and University of North Dakota Distinguished Professor Colin Combs will co-lead the center. A total of 27 faculty members will be assisted by both graduate and undergraduate student researchers. 

Researchers will focus on the growth of breast and prostate cancer cells that mimic primary and metastatic tumors. Meantime, collaborations will improve bioscience research capacity and advanced understanding of cancer cells and tumors. Center personnel also will help transition research into products and develop partnerships and collaborations with various stakeholders.

The grant provides programming for workforce development, education outreach, diversity and communication. Also included are faculty professional development, student training and K-12 student bioscience, engineering and computational exposure. 

“This project aims to foster collaboration among several universities, including institutions from underrepresented communities, to study and better understand biological interfaces related to cancer,” said NSF EPSCoR program manager José Colom-Ustariz. “Over the next five years, this project will not only increase research capacity and competitiveness within this jurisdiction, but will also address research of national importance by helping us understand the physical basis of tumor growth and metastasis.”

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