Seed Science Center

A national center of excellence in seed research, education and technology transfer.  It operates the largest public seed laboratory in the world and administrates the new National Seed Health System.  The center also is a leader in international seed programs and has conducted programs in 70 countries in the last 12 years.

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Plant Sciences Institute

Ernst Rutherford is attributed with saying “Biology is akin to postage stamp collecting” (1903).  This quote reflects the sentiment that Biology is a descriptive science without predictive models.  With a few notable exceptions, e.g., Population Genetics, most biological sub-disciplines continue to be largely descriptive.  In the last 20 years collaborations involving biologists, engineers and informaticists have resulted in development of high throughput bio-technologies that can generate and catalogue data on every genomic base, transcript, protein, metabolite and all of the interactions among these entities at every stage in the growth and development of an organism.  The emergence of these incredible technical capabilities prompted the National Research Council to commission a panel to develop a set of recommendations for biological research in the 21st Century.

The resulting recommendations are focused on providing solutions to societal challenges in personalized medicine, food production , renewable energy and environmental integrity.  To successfully address these grand challenges will require transdisciplinary approches that will transform biology from a descriptive to a predictive science.  In particular, modelers from the physcial science and engineering disciplines will be essential intellectual partners.

The Plant Sciences Institute has always fostered multi-disciplinary approaches to plant science because we recognize that novel solutions to scientific challenges come from research partners working at the interfaces of scientific disciplines.  ISU has the intellectual and technological capabilities to provide leadership in addressing the grand challenges of biology.  In anticipation of emerging federal funding initiatives to address the grand challenges, the PSI is actively promoting and supporting trans-disciplinary team development through competitive Requests for Proposals in both team building and team enabling activities.

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Laurence H. Baker Center for Bioinformatics and Biological Statistics

Faculty in the Center for Bioinformatics and Biological Statistics engage in research to develop computational, graphical, statistical, mathematical, or algorithmic methods to interpret or mine information from biological data; apply quantitative approaches in biology; and bridge separate experimental biology areas with creative computational approaches.  Data can originate from molecular, cellular, anatomical, physiological, population, ecological, and systems studies.  The mission of the Center is to facilitate and enhance research in bioinformatics and biological statistics by fostering communications among the faculty, external laboratories, and granting agencies.  Another important role of the Center is to inform diverse researchers about new opportunities for applications in biology.  The 80+ faculty have their homes in 17 diverse departments and research units.

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Iowa Center for Advanced Neurotoxicology

The Iowa Center for Advanced Neurotoxicology at Iowa State University was established in 2007.  From offices located in the College of Veterinary Medicince, ICAN supports an interdisciplinary membership with primary research efforts in neurotoxicology.

As an emerging research specialty, neurotoxicology bridges not only the fields of toxicology and neuroscience, but also touches on a variety of other scientific areas, making it a truly interdisciplinary research specialty.  Because of the collaborative nature of research supported by ICAN, its members benefit from new and unique synergistic relationships for discovery not otherwise available in a single discipline environment.

ICAN has three major goals:

  1. Conduct fundamental research on both animal and human-related neurotoxicological probelms that are of special significance to Iowa and the United States.
  2. Train graduacte students and postdoctoral researchers in the field of neurotoxicology
  3. Develop technologies and treatment strategies (economic development/translational approach) for diagnosis and treatment of disease associated with the nervous system.

Research conducted by ICAN focuses on:

  1. Environmental neurotoxicology including nanotechnologies and nanotoxicology, environmental influences on cell signaling proteins, and related aberrant activities within cells including degenerative processes.  Proactive research places special emphasis on protective strategies.
  2. Parasite neurobiology that explores often unanticipated relationships between the genes and proteins of parasitic organisms.  Such research reveals new insights into fundamental biological mechanisms of neurotoxins in controlling parasitic organisms and critical related issues such as environmental impact and pesticide resistance.
  3. Neurodegeneration and nerve cell damage impacting Prion proteins in both humans and animals via diseases such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob and “Mad Cow.”

The importance of neurotoxicology continues to expand as new issues emerge relating to human, animal, and environmental health, and to their impact on both local and global economies.


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Center for Plant Genomics

The Center for Plant Genomics (CPG) conducts research and provides graduate education at the frontiers of structural and functional genomics. The CPG was designed to promote research advancements and foster collaborations among its members.  The CPG provides technical support for research projects that require high-throughput data collection and analysis (e.g. large-scale EST sequencing, mRNA and protein profiling, and genetic and physical mapping).  The Center also partners with engineers and physical scientists to develop, adapt, and/or evaluate novel technologies for genomics and proteomics research through its Microarray and Proteomics Facilities.  In addition, it partners with PSI members to support hypothesis-driven research that would benefit from access to high-throughput resources and/or genomic data sets.  The CPG contributes to the training of graduate students and early-career scientists in an environment that emphasizes the use of high-throughput technologies to address significant biological questions.  Access to these and other technologies enables students to explore new ideas and think in new ways about what research can and should be performed.

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Center for Integrated Animal Genomics

The Center for Integrated Animal Genomics (CIAG) at Iowa State University (ISU) comprises an interdisciplinary group of faculty and students using integrated systems-wide genomics approaches to address current and future challenges and opportunities in animal agriculture and human health.  Scientists at the Center work to identify, map and understand the function and control of genes to improve animal and human health.  CIAG embraces basic research areas of animal biology and veterinary medicine that build on current strengths at ISU and are predicted to be of particular importance in agricultural research in the next five to ten years.  These areas include functional genomics, comparative genomics and animal-microbe interactions and bioinformatics.

The potential impacts of CIAG are substantial.  Animal agriculture benefits through continued genetic improvement of important livestock qualities related to food quality and waste, through improvements in disease resistance and pre-harvest pathogen control, and through improved design and utilization of livestock feeds.  The fundamental scientific discoveries made using the integrated genomics approach contribute to permanent improvements in animal health and production systems that are compatible with current environmental concerns and long-term sustainability of agriculture.  Human health benefits accrue directly from food safety and public health considerations and directly through comparative genomics work with model species.  The understanding of basic molecular and cellular processes, for example, allows for rational design of therapeutic drugs and treatments.  It also enables more effective methods to combat bioterrorism mediated by infectious agents of animals, thus helping to secure the safety of the citizenry and the security of the food supply.  Finally, the Center has the opportunity to enhance economic development in Iowa for the animal and food industries.

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Center for Crops Utilization Research

The Center for Crops Utilization Research (CCUR) is responding to the urgent need to improve American agricultural competitiveness by developing new products, markets, and processing techniques, as well as by improving our understanding of the basic properties of agricultural products and their components.  Its broad mission includes expanding the market for Midwestern products by developing new technologies for food and feed products, biofuels, and biobased products.

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Biosafety Institute for Genetically Modified Agricultural Products

The Biosafety Institute for Genetically Modified Agricultural Products (BIGMAP) was established to provide independent, unbiased, and science-based evaluation of the risks and benefits of genetically modified agricultural products.  The institute also provides strategies for mitigating the risks to safeguard consumers and the environment.  It communicates the results of these activities to key policy and regulatory groups, private entities and the public in a transparent manner to build public trust.

BIGMAP is commited to developing the scientific safeguards and education needed to protect human health and the environment while introducting genetically engineering products and technology for economic development in Iowa and the U.S.

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NSF Engineering Research Center for Biorenewable Chemicals

Center for Biorenewable ChemicalsThe NSF Engineering Research Center for Biorenewable Chemicals (CBiRC) will develop the fundamental knowledge and technology and the academic and industrial partnerships needed to provide a foundation for U.S. industrial chemical production to be transformed from a petroleum-based industry to a renewable resource-based industry. It will educate a workforce capable of enabling this transformation.

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