Frontiers Conference at the University of Pittsburgh

University of Pittsburgh researchers play a leading role in a White House conference, co-hosted by Pitt and Carnegie Mellon, on the future of innovation.

Research Leaders

Jeremy M. Berg

Associate Senior Vice Chancellor for Science Strategy and Planning, Health Sciences

Berg’s research focuses on the relationships between the structures and functions of biological molecules, investigating biomolecule interaction inside cells through experimental and computational methods. He has made major contributions to understanding how zinc-containing proteins bind to DNA or RNA and regulate gene activity.

Donald S. Burke

Dean, Graduate School of Public Health

Burke leads the development of computational models and simulations of epidemic infectious diseases to evaluate prevention and control strategies. His research includes the development of diagnostics, clinical vaccine trials, population-based field studies, and computational modeling of epidemic control efforts.

Jennifer L. Collinger

Assistant Professor, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

Collinger is a research biomedical engineer at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Greg Cooper

Professor, Department of Biomedical Informatics, of Computational and Systems Biology, and of Intelligent Systems

Cooper’s research involves developing, investigating, and evaluating new modeling and algorithmic techniques that make Bayesian biosurveillance practical for real-time monitoring and diagnosing of the disease-outbreak status of an entire population to provide early, reliable detection of outbreaks of disease, whether natural or bioterrorist induced. Early detection of these outbreaks allows for the best possible medical response and treatment and improves the chances of identifying the source.

Nancy Davidson

Associate Vice Chancellor for Cancer Research

Davidson’s research provided the first description of epigenetic regulation of the estrogen receptor alpha gene through DNA methylation and/or histone modification in human breast cancer cells and demonstrated that inhibitors of DNA methyltransferase and/or histone deacetylases could lead to functional ER re-expression. These studies set the stage for work by many labs, including her own, to define the role of epigenetic gene modifications in hormone resistance in breast cancer.

Robert A. Gaunt

Assistant Professor, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

Gaunt’s research interests are in the areas of sensorimotor control and the development of neuroprosthetic devices. His research aims to restore sensations of touch and movement so that a person’s prosthetic limb feels like it is a part of them. He also works on methods to restore or improve bladder function through electrical stimulation of the spinal cord and peripheral nerves.

Tao Han

Distinguished Professor of High Energy Physics

Han’s research is in elementary particle physics theory, focusing on high-energy collider physics and in connection to astro-particle physics and cosmology. He formulates theoretical models of elementary particles and their interactions and develops strategies to test the theory by experiments and observations. This research, bridging the abstract theory and experimental observation, is the field of phenomenology.

Prashant Kumta

Edward R. Weidlein Chair Professor

Kumta’s research involves alternative green energy sources, including direct methanol fuel cells as power sources for consumer electronic devices as well as for remote and auxiliary power units for transportation; hydrogen as an alternative fuel produced by water electrolysis; supercapacitors, energy storage devices capable of delivering large amounts of electrical charge in a short time interval; biosensors, using carbon nanotubes as scaffolding for tissue engineering; developing nanomaterials for gene delivery and biotechnology, specifically calcium phosphate cements for bone regeneration

Jeremy Levy

Distinguished Professor of Condensed Matter Physics

Levy’s research interests center around the emerging field of oxide nanoelectronics, experimental and theoretical realizations for quantum computation, semiconductor and oxide spintronics, quantum transport and nanoscale optics, and dynamical phenomena in oxide materials and films.

Ron Poropatich

Executive Director, Center for Military Medicine Research

Poropatich is an experienced pulmonary/critical care medicine physician who served 30 years in the U.S. Army, retiring at the rank of Colonel with assignments at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command as the deputy director of the Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center.

Greg Reed

Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Reed’s research interests, teaching activities, and related pursuits are directed toward improving the capacity and security of the nation’s aging energy grid. With partners in the City of Pittsburgh, he is the lead in two projects in the White House’s MetroLab project, in which universities and municipalities combine their strengths to solve real-world problems.

Steven E. Reis

Associate Vice Chancellor for Clinical Research, Health Sciences

Reis is the founding director of the Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI), which fosters collaborative research that advances new medical therapies and technologies in clinical care while training clinical scientists and ensuring greater access to clinical trials for patients and the public.

R. Mark Richardson

Director, Brain Modulation Laboratory

Richardson’s clinical specializations are comprehensive epilepsy surgery, deep brain stimulation for movement and limbic disorders, and awake surgery in eloquent brain areas. His clinical expertise also includes intraoperative mapping to preserve brain function, including language, in patients who are awake during epilepsy and brain tumor surgery.

Joe Samosky

Visiting Assistant Professor, Bioengineering

Samosky’s research interests involve developing new techniques and technologies for medical simulation by defining and translating clinical experience and instructional goals into design ideas and new system features. His ultimate goal is better medical training with reduced risk and discomfort to patients and better outcomes for all.

Ervin Sejdic

Assistant Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering and Bioengineering, Department of Biomedical Informatics, School of Medicine

As the principal investigator in the iMED (Innovative Medical Engineering Developments) lab, Sejdic aims for iMED to become an international leader in dynamical biomarkers indicative of age- and disease-related changes and their contributions to functional decline under normal and pathological conditions.

In particular, he strives to develop clinically relevant solutions to such problems by fostering innovation in computational approaches and instrumentation that can be translated to bedside care.

Peter Strick

Distinguished Professor and Chair, Neurobiology

Strick's research focuses on four major topics: the motor areas of the cerebral cortex, specifically in movement and control, as well as in motor skill acquisition and retention; the motor, cognitive, and affective functions of the basal ganglia and cerebellum; the neural basis for the mind-body connection; and unraveling the complex neural networks that make up the central nervous system.

Nathan Urban

Vice Provost for Special Projects

A distinguished neuroscientist, Urban’s research involves physiological and computational analysis of the function of neural circuits. His research has been supported by the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, and Human Frontiers Science Program.

Chris Wilmer

Assistant Professor, Chemical and Petroleum Engineering

Wilmer’s research focuses on the use of large-scale molecular simulations to discover promising materials for energy and environmental applications. Using supercomputers managed by the Center for Simulation and Modeling, his research explores millions of hypothetical materials; he then works with experimental collaborators to synthesize the most promising ones.