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Kleiner, Torquato, Seyedsayamdost Awarded Dean for Research Innovation Funds

Awards- - By Catherine Zandonella, Office of the Dean for Research

Ralph Kleiner, assistant professor of chemistry, and Salvatore Torquato, professor of chemistry and the Princeton Institute for the Science and Technology of Materials, are 2018 funding recipients of the Dean for Research Innovation Fund for New Ideas in the Natural Sciences. Mohammad Seyedsayamdost, assistant professor of chemistry, is a 2018 funding recipient of the Dean for Research Innovation Fund for Industrial Collaborations.

The Dean for Research Innovation Funds are awarded annually to promising and forward-looking research across various subject areas and disciplines. This year’s funded projects range from open-ended studies in the natural and social sciences to targeted questions in cancer research, communications technology and sustainability. The projects are chosen by faculty-led committees based on the quality, originality and potential impact of the research.

Kleiner and his team will examine platinum-modified RNA in living cells to answer questions about how the the anti-cancer drug cisplatin’s effects on RNA contribute to its anti-cancer activity, drug resistance and side effects. The ultimate goal is to provide new directions for research on the role of RNA in diseases and treatments.

Torquato and Paul Steinhardt, the Albert Einstein Professor in Science and professor of physics, made a breakthrough discovery a few years ago when their labs created new light-controlling structures known as two-dimensional hyperuniform disordered photonic solids. With this new funding, the team will extend this concept to three-dimensional solids, which are essential if the technology is to find widespread application.

The Seyedsayamdost group will team with scientists from Johnson & Johnson to explore new ways to understand and treat virulent acne. The Princeton researchers will search for factors that may turn on genes that drive this behavior using specially developed methods for activating and studying genes that are usually inactive, or “silent.”

“These funds represent Princeton University’s commitment to support research that pushes boundaries in new directions,” said Dean for Research Pablo Debenedetti, the Class of 1950 Professor in Engineering and Applied Science and professor of chemical and biological engineering. “Through these funds, Princeton researchers can take that extra risk or explore that new path that they might otherwise not have taken.”

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