USF Research News

University of South Florida partners on $1.7M grant for marine research

August 05, 2014

Center for Drug Discovery and Innovation to continue Antarctica studies

TAMPA, Fla. (Aug. 5, 2014) – University of South Florida's Center for Drug Discovery and Innovation and Department of Chemistry have received a new award for marine research in the Antarctic. The $1.7 million award, from the National Science Foundation, will support a research collaboration between USF and the University of Alabama at Birmingham focused on marine chemical ecology.

The four-year grant will support the Antarctic Marine Chemical Ecology research program.

USF Researcher Alan Maschek collects sea sponges (Photo: Bill Baker)
USF Researcher Alan Maschek collects sea sponges (Photo: Bill Baker).

While scuba diving in water temperatures as low as minus 1.8 degrees centigrade (29 degrees Fahrenheit), researchers will collect marine algae and invertebrates and perform studies involving the collected samples in Antarctica, and then return to USF for chemical analyses of the samples that aim to uncover chemical signaling substances.

"This award reflects intense scientific interest in the unusual ecology we have uncovered in our prior two decades of research in Antarctica," said Bill Baker, professor of chemistry and director of the USF Center for Drug Discovery and Innovation (CDDI).

"It also reflects the broader impact of our drug discovery studies using chemistry we find in these uncommon organisms thriving in Antarctica's frigid marine environment."

Bill Baker (l) with researcher Alan Maschek in front of the R/V LM Gould (Photo: Jim McClintock)
Bill Baker (left) with researcher Alan Maschek in front of the R/V LM Gould (Photo: Jim McClintock).

Baker, who has made more than a dozen trips to Antarctica, will lead the program, along with colleagues from UAB, Jim McClintock, professor of physiology and ecology of aquatic and marine invertebrates, and Chuck Amsler, professor of marine ecophysiology and chemical ecology. Two USF graduate students and a postdoctoral associate will also travel to Antarctica during three different years as part of the program.

"Having a center like CDDI brings together scientists and engineers from across the university and around the country to develop treatments for human diseases and public health concerns," said Paul R. Sanberg, senior vice president for research and innovation at USF.

"CDDI is in a unique position to facilitate interdisciplinary collaborations with USF researchers—collaborations that accelerates the translation of therapeutics into clinical applications that can help patients and benefit society."


The University of South Florida is a high-impact, global research university dedicated to student success. USF is a Top 50 research university among both public and private institutions nationwide in total research expenditures, according to the National Science Foundation. Serving nearly 48,000 students, the USF System has an annual budget of $1.5 billion and an annual economic impact of $4.4 billion. USF is a member of the American Athletic Conference and a Charter Member Institution of the National Academy of Inventors.


Source: University of South Florida Research & Innovation

Media Contact: Bill Baker, 813-974-0274,