Notre Dame researchers to tackle autism, preeclampsia and more through new funding

Author: Brandi Klingerman



Nine faculty from the University of Notre Dame have received awards for five projects from the Advanced Diagnostics and Therapeutics’ (AD&T) Discovery Fund. Each year, grants from the Discovery Fund are awarded to researchers who propose novel technologies and diagnostics that can improve human and environmental health.

“The Discovery Fund is intended to support exciting and ambitious research with the potential to have high impact,” said Paul Bohn, director of AD&T and Arthur J. Schmitt Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry. “By funding these projects, AD&T is facilitating faculty in successfully navigating the path from an initial idea to achievable results that can be translated to real-world applications.” 

Recipients of the 2018 AD&T Discovery Fund awards are:

  • Brooke Ammerman, assistant professor of psychology, and Ross Jacobucci, assistant professor of psychology, for their project titled, “Using integrative data mining to improve the prediction of suicide: An initial application.” This research aims to use machine learning and data integration to clarify the relationship between various risk factors at multiple levels of analysis to improve the prediction of distinct suicide outcomes. The results of this project will provide insights into important variables to target in suicide prevention and intervention strategies.
  • Brandon Ashfeld, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and Jeremiah Zartman, associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, for their research, “Design and development of new therapeutics for trisomy 21 phenotypes.” Trisomy 21, or an extra copy of chromosome number 21, is the most common form of down syndrome. The long-term goal of this project is to identify a viable therapeutic to treat Down Syndrome phenotypes as well as other cognition diseases like Alzheimer’s disease. 
  • Donny Hanjaya-Putra, assistant professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering, and David Go, the Rooney Family Associate Professor of Engineering, for their study called, “Stem cells and their exosomes: to model and predict preeclampsia.” The aim of this research is to identify early predictive biomarkers of preeclampsia and develop innovative treatment strategies for this disease, which is responsible for nearly 15 percent of all premature births. 
  • Maria Holland, Clare Booth Luce Assistant Professor of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, for her project, “Cortical thickness variation as a biomarker for Autism Spectrum Disorders.” The goal of this study is to establish relationships between the mechanics of brain development and thickness of the cortex, or the brain’s outer layer, that could lead to new objective measures for early diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder via medical images.
  • Thomas O’Sullivan, assistant professor of electrical engineering, and Patrick Fay, professor of electrical engineering, for their research titled, “Optical sensors that enable wearable quantitative time-resolved tissue optical spectroscopy.” This research aims to create sensors that enable the next generation of wearable optical technologies for non-invasive sensing and imaging for personal wellness and medicine.

To learn more about AD&T research, opportunities, and affiliated faculty, please visit


Corrine Hornbeck / Administrative Assistant

Advanced Diagnostics and Therapeutics / University of Notre Dame / 574.631.8183 / @NDdiagnostics

About Notre Dame Research:

The University of Notre Dame is a private research and teaching university inspired by its Catholic mission. Located in South Bend, Indiana, its researchers are advancing human understanding through research, scholarship, education, and creative endeavor in order to be a repository for knowledge and a powerful means for doing good in the world. For more information, please see or @UNDResearch.