The Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research (OVCR) has chosen eight research teams to develop comprehensive proposals as part of the first round of this year’s Creativity Hubs awards.

Creativity Hubs bring together investigators across diverse disciplines and fields to establish virtual networks for research connectivity and convergence. Projects supported by the initiative are expected to lead to sustainable, large-scale extramural funding or commercial opportunities.

The eight finalists will publicly present their proposals on Thursday, May 2, from 9 to 11 a.m. in 133 Rosenau Hall. In June, two of the eight teams will be selected as recipients of up to $500,000 in funding from the research office to execute their proposals over the next two years.

In all, the OVCR received 23 Creativity Hubs proposals, involving 207 UNC researchers representing 46 departments across 12 schools.

The eight finalist proposals address a range of challenges. Projects and team leaders include:

  • Developing strategies for incorporating genomics and drug dosing data into electronic health records, which predict adverse medical outcomes and help educate clinicians on how best to incorporate this information into treatment plans.
    • Tim Wiltshire (lead), Bradford Powell, and Gail Henderson
  • Providing novel approaches to emergency preparedness, response, and recovery through a new platform that improves communication between relief organizations and affected populations during an emergency.
    • Aunchalee Palmquist (lead), Dilshad Jaff, and Peggy Bentley
  • Utilizing artificial intelligence methods originally developed for pharmaceutical innovations to discover materials for application to solar energy and solar fuel production.
    • Jim Cahoon (lead) and Alex Tropsha
  • Developing small-molecule anti-viral drugs that target virus-induced changes to kinase proteins; the team proposes to use a combination of proteomic, bioinformatic, and chemogenomic approaches to aid in their drug discovery campaign.
    • Nathaniel Moorman (lead), Lee Graves, Bill Zuercher, Ken Pearce, and Xiaodong Wang
  • Establishing a dynamic integrated data system to identify which patients would benefit the most — in terms of improved outcomes and cost savings — from tailored, integrated clinical and community services.
    • Beth Mayer-Davis (lead), Jonathan Berg, and Michael Kosorok
  • Preparing for future extreme events by constructing baseline geospatial, demographic, and survey-based data that will enable rigorous assessment of impacts and policy responses.
    • Elizabeth Frankenberg (lead), Todd BenDor, Barbara Entwisle, Rick Luettich, Ted Mouw, Mike Piehler, and Conghe Song
  • Combining chemical biology approaches with epigenetics to identify, develop, and apply chemical tools to better understand epigenetic processes.
    • Brian Strahl (lead) and Samantha Pattenden
  • Designing and implementing a comprehensive linked data system for health outcomes in North Carolinians, with specific focus on opioids and motor vehicle crashes, which represent the predominant causes of death among N.C. residents during the first half of their lives.
    • Marisa Domino (lead) and Rebecca Naumann

Creativity Hubs awardees are guaranteed proposal development assistance from the Office of Research Development to pursue large-scale, follow-on awards that spring from the program’s funding. The office will also work with the teams not selected to further build their projects and connect them to other funding opportunities.