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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

Oct. 6, 2006

Researchers divvy up state funds for economic development projects

by Mike Krapfl, News Service

Iowa State researchers will use $3.69 million of state funding to advance research in the biosciences, information technology and advanced manufacturing.

The research supports the Iowa Department of Economic Development's efforts to enhance these industries in the state. The department asked the Battelle Memorial Institute's Technology Partnership Practice to recommend strategies for developing the industries. As part of that effort, the Legislature appropriated $8.2 million to Iowa's three regent universities for research related to the industries. The Board of Regents, State of Iowa, approved Iowa State's plans for its share of the research money Sept. 28.

"These research projects will help the state reach its goal of creating high-wage, high-growth industries for the state," said John Brighton, vice president for research and economic development. "The projects also help Iowa State achieve its vision of putting science and technology to work."

Iowa State will send about $1 million of the Battelle research money to its new Nutrition and Wellness Research Center. The money will support five projects focused on developing special carbohydrates from Iowa crops that can help improve health and lead to several patents, a startup company and industry interest.

One of the projects is Ruth MacDonald's study of how different soybean components can prevent inflammatory bowel disease, a condition that can increase a person's risk for colon cancer. MacDonald, interim director of the center and professor and chair of food science and human nutrition, said preliminary results are promising.

MacDonald said the center's research projects will take a multidisciplinary approach. The projects will involve food scientists, nutritionists, plant scientists and even some taste tests to make sure people want to eat the new foods and food ingredients.

Here's a summary of the funds, by research category:

  • $1.006 million to advanced food projects. Researchers will: develop corn containing starch that resists digestion and can be used to produce healthy ethnic foods, quantify the impact of flaxseed lignans on cholesterol reduction, use a new processing technology to develop digestion-resistant starch from corn starch, and use biotechnology to develop new digestion-resistant starch from corn.
  • $910,000 to bioeconomy projects focused on producing new fuels, lubricants and other biorenewable materials from crops grown in Iowa.
  • $650,000 to information technology projects. The funding will create an Information Science Technology Institute at the research park that will focus on developing collaborative research and development projects with private industry. The institute is expected to spin off as many as six start-up companies within five years.
  • $573,000 to animal systems projects that focus on creating large animal models for disease research. Researchers will develop enzyme, gene and animal stem cell treatments for animal and human diseases, screening technologies for transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (such as mad cow disease) and animal models that will aid in the understanding of fat cell physiology in humans.
  • $450,000 to biosecurity projects. The research focuses on protecting plant, animal and human health.
  • $100,000 to advanced manufacturing projects to help companies improve supply chain logistics and provide training about new ideas in product design and production.


"The projects also help Iowa State achieve its vision of putting science and technology to work."

John Brighton, vice president for research and economic development