RAPID CITY, S.D. (July 2, 2013) - South Dakota School of Mines & Technology imaging experts will play an integral role in a collaborative research center that will lead to new biotechnologies to heal injuries and maintain human health.
The South Dakota Board of Regents and the governor's office on Monday announced the new South Dakota Research & Innovation Center has been created to link university-based research and National Science Foundation research priorities. The new Governor Research Center will be a collaboration between researchers from SDSU, SDSM&T and the University of South Dakota, along with private-sector involvement from Sanford Health and Avera Health.
Steve Smith, Ph.D., director of the School of Mines nanoscience and nanoengineering program, will lead the SDSM&T contingent, which will be based on bio-nanoscience with a focus on imaging at the nanoscale level. Smith is a physicist with expertise in optical imaging, specifically molecular-level or so-called super resolution microscopy applied to bio-physics and bio-materials.
The proposal will be under the project direction of Adam Hoppe at South Dakota State University. Researchers will use advanced imaging techniques and computational analysis to bridge current understanding of the consequences of plant and animal genetics, gleaned from bio-informatics, with knowledge of the influence of cellular architecture, discovered through imaging. The work will advance the discovery of new plants that are more productive and disease resistant than current varieties and lead to new biotechnologies to heal injuries and maintain human health.
"Molecular level knowledge of biological processes will continue to be one of the frontiers of science, extending long past our lifetimes," said Smith, who runs a state-of-the-art imaging and spectroscopy laboratory at the School of Mines campus ideal for the proposed work. "The applications to human health, agriculture, etc. are too numerous to list. Imaging is the first step in understanding. With understanding comes new strategies for fighting disease, improving health and longevity and developing new bio-products."
The state plans to commit $12 million in funds over the next six years to allow for translational research activity at the new center, generated from basic research conducted through NSF's Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR).
SDSM&T's portion is expected to be in the range of $4 million over the life of the project, according to Smith.
"This is a very important endeavor for SDSM&T, as we will be expanding our expertise in optics, imaging, nanoscience and bio-physics, and likely building good relationships with the biotech industry in South Dakota, something good for SDSM&T and South Dakota," said Smith, who is currently funded through the NSF biomaterials program to study protein interactions by imaging single molecules. His work with the new research center is a natural extension of that work.
Founded in 1885, the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology is a science and engineering research university located in Rapid City, S.D., offering bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees. The university enrolls more than 2,400 students from 32 countries, with a student-to-faculty ratio of 14:1. The average starting salary for 2012 graduates was $62,696 with a 98 percent placement rate. Find us online at www.sdsmt.edu.