RTI International researchers launch collaborations with UNC, NCSU, Duke

Research includes precision medicine, nanotechnology and K-12 computer-science education


RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC — Teams of researchers from RTI International and local universities will work together on projects about precision medicine, nanotechnology, and K-12 computer-science education.

RTI researchers are involved in three of the four teams that were awarded funding from the Game-Changing Research Incentive Program, or GRIP, which is designed to promote visionary research that furthers the strategic interests of both NC State and RTI.

GRIP launched this year under the auspices of the Office of the NC State Vice Chancellor for Research, Innovation, and Economic Development, with support from RTI and the Kenan Institute for Engineering, Technology, and Science.

The three projects are:

  • The NCSU/RTI Program in Genetic Discovery and Prediction
  • Water Sustainability through Nanotechnology: Nanoscale Science and Engineering at the Solid-Water Interface
  • Computer Science for All K-12 Students

The NCSU/RTI Program in Genetic Discovery and Prediction

The Program in Genetic Discovery and Prediction team will spend the next three years seeking insights on the genetic associations of disease by mining data from publicly available sources. The results will have implications for precision medicine, an emerging field that holds great promise for the prevention and treatment of complex, difficult-to-treat diseases.

Carol Hamilton, Ph.D., the director of RTI’s bioinformatics program, will serve as co-leader of the effort along with NC State University statistics professor Fred Wright, Ph.D. Other RTI researchers involved in the project will be Wayne Huggins, Michelle Krzyzanowski, Rebecca Boyles, James Balhoff, and Stephen Hwang.

The collaboration will build on RTI’s existing work on the PhenX Toolkit, which is helping to standardize measures of medical trait and environmental exposures for use in biomedical research. The NC State researchers bring strengths in quantitative and statistical genetics.

Water Sustainability through Nanotechnology: Nanoscale Science and Engineering at the Solid-Water Interface

The Water Sustainability through Nanotechnology project brings together researchers from RTI, NC State, Duke University, and the University of North Carolina system’s Water Resources Research Institute.

Research environmental scientist Khara Grieger, Ph.D, will lead RTI’s efforts on this project, which will pursue research and development of nanotechnology-based solutions to ensure a sustainable water supply such as biofouling on desalination membranes, energy extraction from wastewater, and nanotechnology-based water monitoring sensors that can be used for precision agricultural engineering and space applications.

Computer Science for All K-12 Students

Computer Science for All K-12 Students aims to bring computational thinking and digital-age workplace skills into elementary and secondary education.

Senior vice president for education and workforce development, Kimberly O’Malley, Ph.D., will represent RTI on this team, which has the backing of several education-focused initiatives and offices within NC State, including the Friday Institute, College of Education, Center for Educational Informatics, and Department of Computer Science.