The Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research announces pre-proposal finalists for Creativity Hubs’ third round of funding to support interdisciplinary teams.

Image shows a city in the background with a superimposed image of a pregnant mother and child on top of the city image.

Creativity Hubs’ 2020 finalist teams span the UNC College of Arts & Sciences, four professional schools, 18 departments, five research centers and institutes, and four external institutions, highlighting the effectiveness of distinctive problem-solvers uniting to tackle large societal challenges. Projects supported by the program are expected to lead to sustainable, large-scale extramural funding and commercial opportunities.

The projects advancing to the next round of Creativity Hubs funding opportunities are:

Accelerated Discovery of Solar Energy Materials

Team: James Cahoon, the College, PI; Alexander Tropsha, UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, the College; Olexandr Isayev, School of Pharmacy; Jillian Dempsey, Frank Leibfarth, Alexander Miller, Rene Lopez, Ron Alterovitz, Collin McKinney, the College

Utilizing artificial intelligence methods originally developed for pharmaceutical innovations to discover applications for solar energy and solar fuel production.

First Mile to Health: Using Data Analytics to Identify and Overcome Transport Barriers to Care

Team: Noreen McDonald, the College, PI; Mark Holmes, UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research; Ashok Krishnamurthy, the College, RENCI; Alison Stuebe, School of Medicine; Crystal Cene, UNC School of Medicine, Sheps Center; Eleanor Wertman, UNC Health Care

Minimizing transportation barriers and improving access to health care with the development of a platform that will allow researchers, transportation agencies, health departments, and hospital managers to identify barriers and develop cross-sector solutions.

Protecting Pregnant Women from Enviromental Toxins

Team: Rebecca Fry, Gillings, PI; Jaye Cable, the College; Hudson Santos, UNC School of Nursing; Cathi Propper, Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute; Andrew George, Kathleen Gray, Institute for the Environment; Michael Piehler, the College, Institute for the Environment; Radhika Dhingra, Alex Keil, Kun Lu, Hazel Nichols, Andy Olshan, Julia Rager, Lisa Smeester, Mirek Styblo, William Vizuete, Gillings; Ilona Jaspers, Tracy Manuck, Michael O’Shea, Mark Zylka, School of Medicine

Improving health outcomes for pregnant woman in North Carolina by identifying toxins, air-based contaminants, exposure risks and the compounding health factors that environmental issues can cause.

Vector-Borne Disease: Epidemiology, Ecology & Response (VEER)

Team: Ross Boyce, School of Medicine, PI; Natalie Bowman, Kara Moser, School of Medicine; Michael Emch, Paul Delamater, the College, Sachiko Ozawa, School of Pharmacy; Todd BenDor, the College, Odum Institute; Michael Reiskind, Alun Lloyd, North Carolina State University; Carl Williams, Alexis Barbarian, N.C. Department of Health and Human Services; Sammy Choi, CPT Phil George, Womack Army Medical Center; Kim Brownley, Tick-Borne Infections Council of North Carolina, Inc.

Developing and implementing evidence-based, cost-effective surveillance and response systems to address vector-born disease, an epidemic affecting the entire state, but particularly those living in rural and underserved communities in North Carolina.

To date, the Creativity Hubs program has yielded amazing results and millions in extramural funding. The pre-proposal finalists for this round will present their projects in the spring. Winning team(s) will then be eligible for up to $500,000 in continued funding from the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research to execute their proposals over the next two years.

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

By UNC Research

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