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Round 4 of X-Grants program awards $7 Million to 8 interdisciplinary projects

Round 4 of Texas A&M University’s X-Grants program has selected eight interdisciplinary research projects to share $7 million in funding, the Division of Research announced today. The program is an initiative of the 10-year, $100 million President’s Excellence Fund.

The funded projects represent 73 A&M faculty members and researchers from 13 colleges and schools — Agriculture & Life Sciences, Architecture, Business, Education & Human Development, Engineering, Law, Liberal Arts, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Public Health, Science, and Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, plus the Global Health Research Complex, Texas A&M AgriLife Research and University Libraries.

Interim Vice President for Research Jack G. Baldauf said the X-Grants program is designed to foster forward-thinking research that establishes collaborations across the artificial boundaries of academic disciplines.

“Interdisciplinary research is often the source of the world’s most significant breakthroughs,” Baldauf said. “This year’s X-Grants projects offer the potential for life-enhancing advancements in pandemic response, cultural heritage, pediatric care, psychological treatment, vaccine development and more. Congratulations to the research teams that submitted these inspiring proposals.”

Titles and team leaders for each of the eight projects are:

“Mapping and Meeting the Directed Evolution of a Pandemic,” Benjamin Neuman, professor, Department of Biology, College of Science

“MitoX: Targeting Mitochondria to Improve Human Health,” Weston Porter, professor, Veterinary Integrative Biosciences, College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences

“Design and Delivery of Personalized, AI-assisted, Accessible, Positive-affect Treatments for Depression,” Annmarie MacNamara, assistant professor, Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences, College of Liberal Arts

“Effective Real-world Telemonitoring of Chronic Disease for the Underserved,” Mark Lawley, professor, Wm Michael Barnes ’64 Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering, College of Engineering

“A Multidisciplinary Platform to Develop Thermally Stable and Highly Efficient mRNA Vaccines,” Qing Sun, assistant professor, Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering, College of Engineering.

“Understanding the Impact of Expansion of Health Insurance Coverage in Texas on Financial Well-being,” Benjamin Ukert, assistant professor, Department of Health Policy and Management, School of Public Health

“The Gulf Coast Heritage Preparedness Initiative,” Andrea Roberts, assistant professor, Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning, College of Architecture

“Saving Babies Born with Birth Defects: Crafting Epigenetic Risk Scores to Reduce Racial Disparity in Mortality,” Theresa Morris, professor, Department of Sociology, College of Liberal Arts

A total of 224 one-page proposals were submitted for Round 4, 78 of which were chosen for preliminary proposals. Twenty-eight were selected to submit final proposals. After oral presentations and reviews by three reviewers each, a panel met and chose the eight proposals for funding.