TUE AM News: New research tool offers improved method for studying microbes; DNC organizers announce JCP Construction as event contractor

— UW-Madison scientists have created a tool to improve the efficiency of microbial research, a quickly growing field that could lead to new medical therapies. 

Interest in microbial interactions has risen in recent decades as clinical studies have illuminated the complex relationships between human health and colonies of microbes within the body. More than 100 trillion bacteria live in the human gut alone, and these microbes are involved with numerous diseases including inflammatory disorders, cancers, depression and diabetes. 

The tool’s lead inventors, Ophelia Venturelli and Philip Romero, are both researchers in the university’s biochemistry department and have applied for a patent on their invention. In the meantime, WARF is looking for commercial partners to aid in the development process. 

Late last year, their team was announced as winners of the WARF Innovation Award, which came with a $10,000 cash prize. 

WARF says the research tool could “add a key technology” to the research industry. Sequencing tools were valued at $885 million in 2018 and are expected to hit $2 billion by 2023, according to the info sheet. Plus, WARF says human microbiome-based drugs are expected to be worth $9.3 billion in 2024. 

Researchers continue to find new connections between microbes and human health, but studying these interactions in a laboratory context has proven difficult. According to an info sheet from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, millions of microbial species have never been cultured, “severely limiting the extent to which they can be characterized and studied.” 

The new research tool enables scientists to study large-scale interactions between large groups of microbes, whereas prior research has only analyzed pure microbe cultures and didn’t address interactions between these tiny organisms. 

According to the info sheet, the new method uses genetic sequencing to boost capacity for studying microbiomes up to 10,000-fold. 

See more: http://www.wisbusiness.com/2020/new-research-tool-offers-improved-method-for-studying-microbes/ 

— Organizers for the Democratic National Convention have announced JCP Construction of Milwaukee will be the general contractor for DNC 2020. 

The Democratic National Convention Committee also said yesterday that Milwaukee-based Hargrove will handle event management. 

JCP Construction has been involved in some of the city’s largest developments in recent years, including Milwaukee Mitchell Airport, Northwestern Mutual Tower and Commons, and Fiserv Forum, where the convention will be held. 

Another local business called Populous has been tapped as the “event architect,” partnering with American Design Inc. on design elements for the convention. 

Construction and event management efforts will be led by DNCC Senior Director of Hall Management Jeffrey Wexler, according to a release. 

“The eyes of the country will be on Milwaukee during the 2020 Democratic National Convention and we are intent on ensuring attendees and viewers alike feel the energy and excitement of our host city,” said DNCC CEO Joe Solmonese. 

More than 50,000 visitors are expected to come to Milwaukee for the upcoming convention, to be held July 13-16. 

See the release: http://www.wispolitics.com/2020/democratic-national-convention-committee-names-construction-and-event-management-teams-for-2020-democratic-national-convention-in-milwaukee/ 

— The Department of Safety and Professional Services isn’t backing draft legislation from Republican authors aimed at reducing the agency’s backlog of commercial plan reviews. 

The proposed legislation is supported by industry stakeholders and would exempt certain construction and plumbing projects from the plan review process. 

“While aspects of this draft legislation align with the secretary’s goals and priorities, code changes can be complex and Secretary Crim believes the legislation would benefit from further input from building code councils,” said DSPS Communications Director Jen Garrett.

Amid complaints about the review delay from GOP lawmakers and building industry representatives, Crim recently instituted internal changes to the scheduling process and called on building code councils to recommend a new risk-based approach to reviewing plans. 

In an emailed statement, Garrett said Crim “shares the senators’ interest” in improving the plan review process and has been seeking other opportunities to do so. Plus, she said Crim “welcomes legislation that affords the agency greater flexibility to optimize operations without compromising public safety.” 

John Schulze, director of legal and government relations for Associated Builders and Contractors, said Republican senators are planning to circulate the legislation this week. 

See an earlier story on the issue: http://www.wisbusiness.com/2020/building-plan-review-backlog-prompts-search-for-solutions/ 

See the most recent release from the agency: http://www.wisbusiness.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/building-plan-councils-release-.pdf

— Assembly Republicans have rolled out a package of bills designed to boost the struggling agriculture industry.

In a Capitol news conference yesterday, they also said they intended to tweak some of Gov. Tony Evers’ State of the State proposals aimed at helping farmers. But Rep. Tyler August said some of Gov. Tony Evers’ measures to help farmers “take us in the wrong direction with simply just adding a bunch of government employees.”

“They need actual help, they don’t need more government bureaucrats,” the Lake Geneva Republican said.

An Evers spokeswoman fired back that it was “unfortunate that (Republicans) didn’t support some of these ideas when the governor first proposed them in the budget a year ago, but it’s good news that they’re ready to work together on these issues now.”

The package, which includes five bills as well as amendments to the two special session bills Evers called for during his address last month, aims to take on both short- and long-term challenges facing the ag industry.

In the short term, the package includes two provisions that would modify the state’s tax code to help farmers: one bill would create an up to $7,500 credit for property taxes levied against farms; another would expand the number of self-employed individuals could subtract from their income taxes for costs stemming from health insurance.

See more at WisPolitics.com: http://www.wispolitics.com/2020/mon-pm-update-assembly-republicans-roll-out-bill-package-to-help-ag-industry/ 

— Phishing emails claiming to be from local health departments are using the coronavirus investigations to get to personal information. 

“We urge you to be very cautious, avoid clicking on suspect links in communications, and above all do not provide personal information to an unknown source,” State Health Officer Jeanne Ayers said yesterday during a call with reporters. 

The Department of Health Services is warning people they should only expect an email related to the coronavirus if they were already in contact with a local health department. Plus, health departments will notify patients beforehand if they plan to email them. 

Fifteen people have been investigated for the virus in Wisconsin. Thirteen of those patients tested negative for the virus, while one case is pending and another has been confirmed, Ayers said.

The patient who has the virus is quarantined at home and “doing well,” according to Traci DeSalvo, epidemiology section chief at DHS. 

Keep up with the coronavirus in Wisconsin: http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/disease/coronavirus.htm 

See more on coronavirus prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention-treatment.html 

— American Family Children’s Hospital in Madison is getting a joint $200,000 donation from nonprofit groups to buy a machine used in cancer treatment. 

The Lions Club of Wisconsin, Lions Clubs International Foundation and Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer provided the funding for a new flow cytometer, which analyzes cells for various cancer therapies. That includes immunotherapies, which rely on the immune system to treat cancer. 

According to a release, the connected UW Carbone Cancer Center already had its own flow cytometer that was available to all researchers. But now pediatric cancer specialists can access the technology within their own lab space. 

Dr. Mario Otto, a pediatric oncologist with UW Health, says the new machine will “make a big impact” on the effort to develop better cancer treatments for children. 

“This instrument will enhance our research capabilities and move us forward faster,” he said in a statement. 

See the release: http://www.wisbusiness.com/2020/uw-health-the-wisconsin-lions-lions-clubs-international-and-macc-fund-donate-200000-to-american-family-childrens-hospital/ 

— A seed-stage venture capital fund called the Winnow Fund has received investment commitments from Johnsonville Ventures, MGE Energy Inc. and the Capital Times. 

The Winnow Fund is backed by the Badger Fund of Funds, meaning its capital can only be invested in Wisconsin. But according to Ken Johnson, Wisconsin Partner for the Badger Fund of Funds, the new investors saw that as a positive. 

“There’s been a lot of criticism over the years that Wisconsin companies don’t support the venture community,” Johnson said in a statement. “But when they’re offered an opportunity to invest in a Wisconsin-based fund that’s focused on growing the state’s startup community, they will step up.” 

A Madison-based private equity firm called Inventure Capital has also committed capital after the fund announced its first closing in November. The fund’s managers aren’t disclosing the size of the new investment commitments. 

Listen to a recent podcast with Richelle Martin, managing director of the Winnow Fund: http://www.wisbusiness.com/2019/wisbusiness-the-podcast-with-richelle-martin-managing-director-of-the-winnow-fund/ 

See more on the Winnow Fund: http://winnowfund.com/ 


# Report: Population decline in Wisconsin’s rural counties is getting worse


# JCP Construction selected as general contractor for DNC

# New CEO of Sprecher hopes someday to take Glendale brewery international 


# Wisconsin Republicans push five new bills to boost farmers, overall price tag still unknown




– Quad acquires Mexican creative agency specializing in point-of-sale advertising


– Wisconsin, international cheese makers compete as consumer demand for specialty dairy grows



– La Causa planning $4.7M corporate office on former Rockwell Automation property 


– Democratic National Convention names Milwaukee minority-owned firm as construction manager



– Mayor Barrett discusses central city jobs, loss of Strauss in State of the City: Slideshow



– Ag in the Classroom holding National Ag Day activities



– What ‘normal’ weather is will change



– Ascension Wisconsin plans new medical clinic in Mequon

– Judy Gardetto donates $1.1 million to Advocate Aurora Health


– Beverage innovation and growth pushes TechniBlend to a new home in Brookfield


– Red Kettle campaign for Salvation Army of Milwaukee County exceeds goal


– Cost overruns for UW-Madison construction projects draw attention from lawmaker



– Irgens moving forward with two office buildings at The Corridor

– Irgens readies two new office buildings in Brookfield



– Frozen road law expanded across most of Wisconsin



– Retail development proposed at former Pepino’s restaurant in Brookfield


– We Energies to sponsor streetcar operations during DNC

– We Energies sponsors downtown streetcar with $100,000 for operations



– Sen. Jon Erpenbach and Rep. Sondy Pope: Voucher programs are a costly detriment to Wisconsin



<i>See these and other press releases: 

http://wisbusiness.com/index.iml?Content=82 </i>

Pixelle: Acquires specialty papers business from Verso

UW Health: The Wisconsin Lions, Lions Clubs International and MACC Fund donate $200,000

Dept. of Safety and Professional Services: Building plan councils release