Provost's Fund: Biomedical Research Projects

January 18, 2023

The LSU Provost’s Fund for Innovation in Research has announced $1.1 million in faculty research grants to 33 projects, including several focusing in the area of biomedicine and biotechnology, in support of sustained strategic priorities for the university and for Louisiana.

Launched in 2022, the Provost’s Fund supports interdisciplinary research in five priority areas, also known as the LSU Pentagon, which includes agriculture, biomedicine and biotechnology, coast and environment, defense and cybersecurity and energy.

Spanning Our Priorities

priorities pentagonWhile some of the newly funded projects fall within a single priority area, several span multiple priority areas. The strength of the Scholarship First Agenda lies not only in how LSU can drive research and innovation in agriculture, biomedicine, coast, defense and energy, but combine these areas in interesting ways to solve pressing problems in Louisiana and around the globe. In total:

  • Five faculty identified their projects as agricultural;
  • 19 faculty identified their projects as biomedical;
  • 13 faculty identified their projects as coastal;
  • Eight faculty identified their projects as defense-related;
  • 10 faculty identified their projects as energy-related.

Below is a list of current Provost’s Fund faculty research awardees focusing in the area of biomedicine and biotechnology.

See more information about the fund and the full list of awardees.


  • Assistant Professor of Communication Sciences & Disorders Eileen Haebig (LSU College of Humanities & Social Sciences) will lead a team to elucidate the relationship between motor and language abilities by examining verb processing—a category of words that is both highly associated with motor actions and highly predictive of broader language development—in autistic children. 
  • Professor of Chemistry Mario Rivera (LSU College of Science) will lead a team to establish a platform for antibiotic discovery at LSU that takes advantage of core research facilities on campus and springboards from Rivera’s previous discovery of inhibitors that kill biofilm bacteria tolerant to commercial antibiotics.
  • Assistant Professor of Kinesiology Nicholas Fears (LSU College of Human Sciences & Education) will improve the identification of motor skill delays in autistic children; there are 25,000 autistic children in Louisiana.
  • Professor of Kinesiology Alex Garn (LSU College of Human Sciences & Education) will help childbearing women use three-dimensional optical scanning technology to reduce postpartum weight retention as part of an eight-week pilot program. 
  • Professor of Biological Sciences Craig Hart (LSU College of Science) will characterize direct promoter activation by the chromatin domain insulator protein BEAF in fruit flies. 
  • Assistant Professor of Biological & Agricultural Engineering Kevin Hoffseth (LSU College of Engineering) will move beyond quantitative measurements of limb regeneration to predict the structural quality and function of regenerated bone using new computational tools.
  • Associate Professor of Biological Sciences Yong Lee (LSU College of Science) will test if Salmonella-delivered fructose-2,6-bisphosphatase or expressed PFKFB3-shRNA can decrease fructose 2,6-bisphosphate levels, and thus rapid cell cycle progression, in two human cancer cell lines.
  • Associate Professor of Biological Sciences Karen Maruska (LSU College of Science) will study the neural and molecular mechanisms of social defeat, or bullying, in cichlid fish to learn how thyrotropin-releasing hormone signaling can help determine whether individuals respond with resilience or susceptibility. The work could lead to new, targeted therapeutics for stress-related disorders, such as depression, anxiety and PTSD, in humans. 
  • Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences Anastasios Vourekas (LSU College of Science) will discover new ways to target mRNA through tRNA-derived small RNAs, or tRNA fragments, which play important regulatory roles in gene expression in human cells. The work could help advance our understanding of basic mechanisms of cellular response to stress and the pathogenesis of diseases such as cancer and neurodegeneration.
  • Assistant Professor of Textiles, Apparel Design & Merchandising Sibei Xia (LSU College of Agriculture) will develop body-tracking wearable technology for babies. Smart clothing, such as knitted hats made with thermochromic yarns that change color based on temperature, can help monitor babies’ health without a need for electricity.