$11M NIH grant will fund biomedical research at University of Delaware

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IMAGE: University of Delaware Professor Joe Fox (top right) leads the Center of Biomedical Research Excellence that has won a second phase of funding from the NIH. Newly added to the…
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Credit: Composite image by Jeffrey C. Chase

Biomedical research at the University of Delaware has fresh fuel for the next five years, as the National Institutes of Health has renewed a Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) grant for a second phase, worth more than $11 million.

This COBRE grant is focused on Discovery of Chemical Probes and Therapeutic Leads and is led by Joseph Fox, professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.

The work of this team of scientists is focused on discovery of new molecules that can be used to study and treat diseases such as breast cancer, renal cancer, Crohn’s disease, tuberculosis and Legionnaires disease.

“Interdisciplinary collaboration is a hallmark of UD research, and this renewal grant from the National Institutes of Health recognizes the successful track record and the continued excellence of an exceptional team of biomedical researchers and its leader, Professor Joe Fox,” said University of Delaware President Dennis Assanis. “Their work will advance the development of new therapies for treating diseases that have afflicted so many. We congratulate this team and look forward to the exciting developments to come.”

The research team will be based at UD’s Science, Technology and Advanced Research (STAR) Campus.

“By locating aspects of this program in the Ammon Pinizzotto Biopharmaceutical Innovation Center at STAR Campus, UD will coalesce a vibrant community of researchers working in drug discovery, development and manufacturing further cementing UD’s leadership in pharmaceutical innovation,” said Charles G. Riordan, vice president for research, scholarship and innovation.

Five new researchers have been added to the grant in this phase, including Catherine Fromen (chemical and biomolecular engineering); Jeff Mugridge and Juan Perilla (chemistry and biochemistry); and Ramona Neunuebel and Karl Schmitz (biological sciences).

The grant extension also will further expand the center’s capabilities with development of a Proteomics Core to allow custom synthetic chemistry, Fox said.

The first phase of the grant produced many advances, including 11 major NIH grants, and led to new techniques now used for drug-discovery work by major pharmaceutical companies and research groups around the world.

“This has had an impact on science and human health,” said Fox. “It is exciting for the outstanding cohort of colleagues who will benefit from this grant. Some of our most successful faculty were hired and supported during Phase 1. There are some real rock stars in there. It has been great. And the idea that we’ll be able to do this again is exciting to me.”

The first-phase grant cohort included Catherine Leimkuhler Grimes, Joel Rosenthal, Donald Watson and Mary Watson (chemistry and biochemistry); April Kloxin (chemical and biomolecular engineering); and Edward Lyman (physics and astronomy and chemistry and biochemistry). The first phase also supported pilot project funding to nine additional research groups and supported the

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University of Delaware faces second lawsuit seeking COVID-19 refunds

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A hectic weekend was turned into a socially-distanced several days as only a portion of the student body returns to live on campus.

Delaware News Journal

There are now two lawsuits seeking tuition and fee refunds from the University of Delaware for the pandemic-marred spring semester.

A new lawsuit was filed last week on behalf of a woman who was a student at the university in the spring semester. It claims the school breached its contract with students by not offering adequate tuition and fee refunds after ending in-person classes and services in response to the pandemic last spring. 

Similar to a lawsuit filed in August, the new complaint also seeks class-action status to more broadly represent spring 2020 semester students who paid tuition and fees they feel should have been reimbursed. 

It was filed by attorneys with the Cross & Simon firm in Wilmington, as well as attorneys from a South Carolina group of lawyers that have filed similar lawsuits across the country. Those attorneys did not reply to request for comment for this story. 

A person walks along the green at the University of Delaware next to Main Street in Newark.  (Photo: Jerry Habraken, Delaware News Journal)

BACKGROUNDLawsuit seeks refunds for University of Delaware spring semester marred by pandemic

The lawsuit seeks to represent all students who paid tuition or fees for in-person instruction and were denied that service. If those students or those who paid students’ costs wish to be represented by the lawsuit, the court will have to approve classes of plaintiffs as the litigation moves forward.  

The university’s spring semester began on Feb. 11 and a month later, the school announced it was suspending classes for two days ahead of spring break. It also decided the school would transition to online learning for the balance of the semester.

The lawsuit argues students paid a higher price to the university for in-person education and campus educational and lifestyle amenities. Because that was limited or no longer offered for part of the spring semester, those students are owed a refund, the litigation states.

Not providing full refunds unjustly enriches the university and constitutes a breach of its agreement with students, the lawsuit states.

A spokesperson for the university declined to comment on the litigation. Attorneys representing the school have not filed responses to the lawsuit in court.

The lawsuit is similar to a challenge filed in August by students and their parents seeking refunds for tuition. 

It claims that some of the plaintiffs have received refunding of unused housing costs and some fees associated with the spring semester, but no refund in tuition costs. The students state in the complaint that they each paid more than $17,000 in tuition, as well as other fees, to the school for the spring semester. 

That lawsuit seeks a refund of the prorated portion of tuition and fees, proportionate to the amount of time that remained in the spring semester when classes moved online and campus services ceased

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From teacher to Joe Biden’s Delaware first lady

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Dr. Jill Biden has championed for her husband, Joe Biden, throughout his political career. But she has her own incredible accomplishments.

USA TODAY

All anyone could talk about that day were the yellow roses.

During the 1976-1977 school year, a courier delivered three dozen long-stemmed roses to the desk of Saint Mark’s High School newest English teacher. The women in the office were buzzing about their beauty. The men commented on their exorbitant cost. 

Even teenage boys took notice. 

When the teacher, for whom the flowers were for, opened the card, her cheeks blushed. Everyone already knew who Jill Jacobs’ admirer was — some of them likely voted for him.

More than 40 years later, retired teachers and some former students can still recall the day Ms. Jacobs received those yellow roses. It represented an important chapter in the life of Jill Biden: Her first year of teaching full-time, while also dating a gregarious U.S. senator whose ambitions included the White House. 

“She always knew where she was going.”

Barbara Reilly

During this year at Saint Mark’s, Jill began to establish her long career as an educator. Her kind gestures, tough grading and stylish outfits are still remembered by students decades later.

At 25, she also cautiously began to enter what would become her life as mother and senator’s wife, all while trying to find independence from her partner. She would continue to do so for years to come. 

“She was always self-possessed,” said Barbara Reilly, who taught English at Saint Mark’s for decades. “She always knew where she was going.”

As a teacher and later a professor, Jill’s office had no photos of her husband, only of her children and grandchildren. Some students never knew who she was married to. When Jill defended her doctoral dissertation in education from the University of Delaware in 2007, she did so in her maiden name. Joe Biden was not allowed in the room out of concern that his presence would sway opinions. 

If Jill Biden’s husband is elected president come Nov. 3, that first year at Saint Mark’s may offer a glimpse at the early life of a potentially historic first lady — one who plans to have a job outside the walls of the White House. 

“I want my own money, my own career, my own identity,” Jill Biden told The News Journal in 2007.

“He realizes,” she said of Joe Biden, “that he’s not my life and my love.”

‘A banner year for the discovery of Middle English’

On the first day of teacher orientation, Barbara Reilly knew she liked her instantly. Jill Jacobs was smart and confident. She seemed like a natural teacher. 

“And I thought, ‘Merciful goodness she’s beautiful,’ ” she laughed. 

The two teachers formed a tight bond that year, particularly since the English department shared an office. It was a social group, where belly laughs were frequent. Reilly, already

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University of Delaware will increase on-campus residencies

School President Dennis Assanis said first-year students and seniors will be given the chance to take advantage of the extended capacity first.

The school will also eliminate spring break to minimize out-of-state travel.

The spring semester will also bring the return of some sports. Winter sports begin Nov. 25 and fall sports will begin Jan. 23.

The university has suffered a large budget deficit due to the coronavirus pandemic, Assanis said. A drop in first-year and out-of-state students contributed to a tuition deficit of more than $80 million.

In late September, the school said it will perform cost-saving measures, such as layoffs, voluntary staff hour reductions and unpaid leave programs.

All of these plans are subject to change.

“Of course, it is difficult to say with certainty what will happen in the weeks and months ahead, so our plans must remain flexible to accommodate the evolving nature of the pandemic,” Assanis said.

As of Oct. 18, 406 students and staff members have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the school’s COVID-19 dashboard.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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