Research on campus impacts South Dakota in many more ways than one

Ruth Brown

Ruth Brown

Scientific research projects at SDSU are helping expand economic development at the university and throughout South Dakota.

“All of the 2010 research centers are basically helping expand our research capability,” said Gary Johnson, system vice president for research of the Board of Regents. “They are helping boost research in South Dakota and will lead to more opportunities for the communities.”

All of the 2010 research centers are funded by the South Dakota Office of Economic Development and Tourism for the first five years and are then expected to be self-sustaining.

“Most of the research centers get grant money after their five years are up,” said Janelle Toman, director of information and institutional research for the Board of Regents. “They usually have no problems getting grants once the research starts to show great potential.”

One of the largest research projects at SDSU is the Translation Cancer Research Center project that is a collaborative project between Sanford Research and the Pharmaceutical Sciences Department at SDSU. The project began at the end of February and has funding until 2014.

“Dr. Dwivedi’s program is receiving about $2.28 million in funding,” said Johnson.

Chandradhar Dwivedi, head of the Pharmaceutical Sciences Department, said that the cancer research project focuses mainly on the diagnoses, treatment and prevention of different kinds of cancer.

Most of the actual lab work for the project is done at SDSU in Shepard Hall and the Veterinary Sciences Building.

“The project is a great collaboration between [SDSU] and Sanford,” said Dwivedi. “Most of the lab work is done at SDSU, and the actual work with humans is done at Sanford.”

The cancer research program has a focus on cancers, such as head and neck, as well as skin cancer.

“The current treatment of head and neck cancer can leave permanent scarring,” said Dr. John Lee, an ear, nose and throat doctor with Sanford.

Current treatment of head and neck cancer often involves a six-week treatment of radiation and chemotherapy that can permanently damage the body even though the patient may then be cured of the cancer.

“With this research, we hope to find a less morbid way of treating these kinds of cancer,” said Lee.

In addition to the cancer research, SDSU has also started a program using light energy to study biochemical pathways within living cells and how they interact.

“We really hope to enhance the quality of research and support commercialization,” said Ronald Utecht, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at SDSU. “It allows for a real research focus in the chemistry and biochemistry department.”

The Center for the Biological Control and Analysis by Applied Photonics is receiving $4.29 million in funding and is under the direction of Utecht.

“These projects are great for SDSU, especially in the Midwest,” said Dwivedi.

Recent proposals of research centers have been even more scientifically sophisticated than those of the past.

“There were 12 requests for proposals of research projects this time around, and we supported five of them,” said Johnson. “We do send out the proposals to be looked at by nationally known scientists for suggestions.”

Scientists that viewed the recent proposals say they are some of the best proposals they have seen since the 2010 research center project began in 2005.

“SDSU has really been stepping up to the plate with cutting-edge research and technology,” Johnson said.

New opportunities other than just scientific research will be a result of the quest for new and useful information.

“Economic development in South Dakota and the surrounding areas is expected to increase because of the research centers at SDSU,” said Johnson. “The research will provide new opportunities for faculty and graduate students, as well as actual or potential future partners.”

Hundreds of research projects continue on campus, improving the reputation of the university.

“The main intent of the 2010 research centers for SDSU is to make a more sustainable research program at the university,” said Kevin Kephart, vice president for research at SDSU and dean of the graduate school.