Author: cad15121

Dr. Jessica Rouge Receives NSF CAREER Grant

The National Science Foundation recently announced UConn faculty member Jessica Rouge as the recipient of a CAREER grant. The funding, which comes from the NSF’s Macromolecular Supramolecular and Nanochemistry program, will enable the Rouge group to develop novel chemical crosslinking strategies that can be incorporated into DNA nanomaterials. Using a new DNA-surfactant assembly strategy that generates DNA nanoshells compatible with cells and enzymes, the major goal of the grant is to synthesize a combination of peptide and synthetic crosslinkages that can control the nanomaterials assembly and disassembly in complex biological environments. These materials will be specifically designed to have selectivity for certain chemical stimuli that can initiate chemical and/or biochemical reactions. Such strategies are important for developing more sensitive biological sensors and more accurate drug delivery systems.

To learn more about the grant, click here.

Dr. Jessica Rouge and Dr. Nicholas Leadbeater Receive Grants Toward Development of Novel Therapeutics 

Researcher in the School of Pharmacy on Nov. 8, 2018. (Sean Flynn/UConn Photo)

The Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) recently announced recipients in the inaugural funding round for the Program in Accelerated Therapeutics for Healthcare (PATH). PATH is a partnership that includes the OVPR, the School of Pharmacy, and the School of Medicine to accelerate the translational pathway for researchers to convert their discoveries to new medical therapeutics.

Under PATH, funding is provided to academic research programs designed to quickly develop novel therapeutic approaches focusing on well validated molecular targets for specific disease areas with an unmet treatment need in the current commercial marketplace. Projects focusing on a wide range of therapeutic interventions (small molecule, biologic, antibody, peptide, gene therapy) are eligible for consideration.

Two UConn Chemistry Professors, Dr. Jessica Rouge and Dr. Nicholas Leadbeater were recipients of the PATH grants. Continue reading

Science Activity Day at UConn

In the past few months, UConn Chemistry has held numerous events to expand its outreach within the Connecticut community. Some of the more recent events that were held involved the UConn Chemistry Department partnering with local schools in an effort to teach young students about what pursuing an interest in Chemistry can do for them post-graduation. On April 25th and May 17th, the Department opened its doors to various high schools for a day of lectures, demonstrations, and hands-on laboratory activities for students.

The April 25th trip was coordinated by the Early College Experience office and Dr. Fatma Selampinar, with activities hosted by Dr. Jessica Rouge, Dr. Gaël Ung, and their graduate students (Alyssa H., Saketh G., Mark T., Kaitlynn A., Erin B., Nishya M. and Rebecca F.).  To kick off the day’s events, students learned about fluorescent molecules and biomacromolecules that can build structures at the nanoscale. During Dr. Ung’s activities, students were taught the principles of fluorescence and how light interacts with molecules. They were exposed to scientific thinking and given the opportunity to construct glow sticks. The students were asked to determine why molecules glowed and made hypotheses that they then verified experimentally. Later, the students gathered and shared the results of their experiments to observe the relationship between chemical structure and a molecules ability to glow.

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Lightweight of Periodic Table Plays Big Role in Life on Earth


Although hydrogen is the lightweight of the chemical elements, it packs a real punch when it comes to its role in life and its potential as a solution to some of the world’s challenges. As we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the periodic table, it seems reasonable to tip our hat to this, the first element on the table.

One oxygen atom is connected to two hydrogen atoms to make water. Liaskovskaia Ekaterina/

Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, but not on Earth due to its light weight, which allows the gas to just float off into space. Hydrogen is essential to our life – it fuels the sun, which converts hundreds of million tons of hydrogen into helium every second. And two hydrogen atoms are attached to one oxygen atom to make water. Both these things make our planet habitable.

Not only does hydrogen enable the sun to warm the Earth and help create the water that sustains life, but this simplest of all the elements may also provide the key to finding a clean fuel source to power the planet.

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UConn Chemist Receives NIH Grant to Synthesize Molecule for UTI Research

Colonies of a coliform bacteria (E. coli) (Getty Image)

The process of developing a treatment for any infection or disease is long and arduous, and it often involves finicky samples and a lot of unknowns. But sometimes that process can be helped along with a little chemistry between different scientific fields of study.

Researchers working on developing a more effective treatment for infections would benefit greatly from being able to study exactly how a pathogen infects the body. UConn chemistry professor Mark Peczuh specializes in making this possible.

Peczuh recently received $275,000 from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to develop a molecule used to study an alternative approach to preventative treatments for urinary tract infections (UTI).

Urinary tract infections affect upwards of 10 million people, primarily women and the elderly, every year. If a UTI is left untreated, it can infect the kidneys and lead to more serious symptoms.

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