New grant money to ease cancer research

Sara Bertsch


 SDSU has recently received a research grant of $100,000 from the Board of Regents to acquire an in vivo imaging system. 

Last year, the BOR received an additional $1 million to work specifically with institutions said Paul Turman, Associate Vice President for Research and Economic Development in Pierre. 

The BOR received various proposals for the grant. The selection process was very competitive. The grant has two parts: collaboration and innovation. SDSU sent in proposals for both of these, but was only awarded 50 percent of the funds for the innovation grant. 

The principal investigator Hemachand Tummala, assistant professor in the pharmaceutical science department, formed the proposal for the innovation grant that was sent to the BOR. He worked on it for three months. His proposal was for SDSU to acquire an in-vivo imaging system that costs $200,000. 

“It will save time, save money and save animals,” Tummala said, “I’m very happy I got at least $100,000.” 

The system allows researchers to label and provide treatments to living organisms such as plants or mice instead of killing and dissecting the organisms. It provides multiple measurements and researchers are able to examine the living organisms. The system is only used for drug research. 

In vivo means alive or inside the body Tummala said. The system scans for fluorescent light, chemical luminance or infrared rays. Researchers can inject animals or plants with the certain chemical or chemical luminance and then place the animal in the machine. The machine then will do a scan for fluorescent light, chemical luminance and infrared rays. All of this can be done without killing the animal. 

The in vivo imaging system also works like an X-ray machine. The machine’s main focus will be on cancer of any types. 

Tummala plans to share the system with many people. “My goal is to create a core central facility for everyone … We can generate some money to make sure the system is maintained … everyone in the department can access it.” 

Before the machine can be acquired the rest of the funds must first be acquired. The BOR only provided $100,000 and gave SDSU a deadline to the end of the next fiscal year to get the rest of the money, according to Kevin Kephart, Vice President of Research,“The state views us as an investment and opportunity to bring in 


 equipment to make us more competitive,” Kephart said.

If the money can’t be acquired by the deadline they hope to work with the BOR and see what other options are available, said Jim Doolittle, associate vice president. “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. We’d hate to give it back.”

Prior to sending in their proposal to the BOR, SDSU had to go through their own competitive selection process before choosing one. All proposals go through Kephart and his office, including Doolittle and associate deans from across campus.

Several faculty members created letters of intent which included a description in a few pages of their proposal. The proposals would then go through a screening process to find the ‘best of the best,’ according to Doolittle.

A total of 11 pre-proposals were submitted to Kephart and his office. After much consideration, Tummala’s proposal for the in vivo system was chosen. From there SDSU submitted it to the BOR where it was selected among many other proposals.

“The last couple of sessions we’ve been impressed with research across the state… We [BOR] are very supportive and we want to allow them to engage,” Turman said