Seton Hall University and the Universidad de los Andes (Uniandes) in Colombia have formed a partnership designed to facilitate collaboration between the two institutions to drive innovations in research and educational practice, such as scientific discovery and application.
The partnership will allow for student and professor exchanges and present opportunities for grant funding from international agencies, and is also the latest in a series of internationalization initiatives at the University.
"I am delighted to learn about this great collaboration and look forward to an opportunity to advance our institutions' connections on research, teaching and other exchanges," said Katia Passerini, Ph.D., Provost and Executive Vice President. "We can use a lot of creativity and innovation to build bridges between our universities."
Founded in 1948, Uniandes is a private university located in the heart of Bogotá. It offers 16 doctoral programs and 63 master’s programs, as well as 39 undergraduate programs. Uniandes' campus is home to art galleries, abundant classroom and auditorium space and 163 laboratories for teaching and research. It was through laboratory research between faculty members from the Uniandes and the University that the seeds of this partnership were first planted.
"The collaborative efforts will start with an already established joint research program on peptide discovery for industrial and biomedical applications between professors Gregory Wiedman, Ph.D., of Seton Hall and Juan Cruz, Ph.D., of Uniandes," explained Silvia Restrepo, Ph.D., Vice President for Research and Creation at Uniandes. "They have been collaborating for the past two years and are planning to start a graduate student exchange program in the coming months."
Cruz discussed the current research project from which the partnership has grown, explaining that the basis of the study is the "search for new peptide sequences with applications as biosurfactants, antimicrobials and cell-penetrating agents." He went on to say that currently, he and Associate Professor Luis H. Reyes, Ph.D., from Uniandes are developing a new library of peptides via a non-rational approach with the aid of machine learning and molecular dynamics tools.
Through the partnership, the Uniandes researchers "are planning to synthesize the most promising candidates in Greg Wiedman's lab at Seton Hall and conduct the preliminary biophysical characterization. This will involve several graduate students from Uniandes and Seton Hall who will be able to receive training in advanced characterization tools, including fluorescence-based assays, secondary structural characterization, and antimicrobial testing," noted Cruz.
Wiedman also emphasized the role that both professors and students have in this research project, and especially the opportunities the partnership is providing for students to receive world-class training in this burgeoning area of biological science research: "The 3B Lab (Biochemistry, Biophysics, Biomaterials) at Seton Hall University recognizes that importance of collaborative efforts in science to improve the world. We are extremely excited for this agreement, which will provide the opportunity for our students at Seton Hall to work together with students from Uniandes. We know that this will strongly improve our work together on peptides for antimicrobial applications and for bioremediation; both of which are issues with international significance."
Cruz also added, "As our collaborative efforts consolidate, we are planning to expand our scope to the rational design of nanobioconjugates of enhanced antimicrobial potency to find new routes to tackle the increasingly worrisome issue of antimicrobial resistance, which is detrimentally impacting countries on a global scale."
"Sharing resources to learn together and solve real-world problems is at the heart of Seton Hall's internationalization initiatives," remarked Ines Murzaku, Ph.D., Director of Catholic Studies. "Through working in the fruitful international partnerships Seton Hall is developing, I can see our university's true faithfulness to the guiding principles laid out in our new strategic plan. This partnership will certainly facilitate Seton Hall serving and being enriched by our global community. And as with all of our internationalization efforts, our university's 'Catholicism is an enabling vision,' allowing us to share with and welcome those of all religious backgrounds. We are staying true to ourselves precisely by sharing our strengths and growing through collaboration with others."
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