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Marshall researchers set to lead new project

Aug. 12, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- Researchers at Marshall University are among the lead investigators on two projects to be funded through the state's Research Challenge Fund, the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission announced today.

Marshall faculty members Thomas Wilson, Richard Niles and Donald Primerano will help direct the projects - one to develop better electronics and the other to learn more about cancers affecting West Virginians. The projects began this month and will be conducted in cooperation with researchers at West Virginia University. Each project will receive a total of $1.35 million over the next five years.

The Research Challenge Fund was established by the state legislature in 2002 to provide seed money for new research. Projects funded through the program support the creation of research centers and start-up businesses, and foster economic development and work force advancement.

The funding to create a Center for Energy Efficient Electronics at Marshall and WVU will be used to investigate and develop devices that will lead to next-generation electronics that are smaller, faster and more energy efficient than current technology allows. The principal investigators on the project are Wilson, who is a professor of physics at Marshall; David Lederman, a professor of physics at WVU; and Alan Bristow, Mikel Holcomb and Tudor Stanescu, associate professors of physics at WVU.

According to the investigators, there is strong interest in the research community in the concepts of spintronics and magnonics, where spin degrees of freedom and magnetic excitations are used for information storage and processing. Spintronics and magnonics are expected to result in electronic devices that are faster and use substantially less power than current electronics because spin and magnetic excitation currents do not dissipate nearly as much energy as charge currents.

The second research project will further develop and expand the West Virginia Cancer Genomics Network to involve Marshall, WVU and Charleston Area Medical Center. Network partners will develop a genetic database for cancers with a higher incidence in West Virginia. Researchers will use the data in studies and clinical trials funded by federal and/or private grants and to help develop start-up biotechnology companies. Principal investigators for this study are Niles, who is a professor and chairman of Marshall's Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology; Primerano, who is a professor of biochemistry and microbiology at Marshall and the director of the university's Genomics Core Facility; William Petros, a professor of biochemistry at WVU; and Todd Kuenstner, the director of pathology at Charleston Area Medical Center.

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