Illinois State University’s Dr. Marilyn Prasun and Dr. John Sedbrook have been named 2021 Researchers to Know by the Illinois Science and Technology Coalition (ISTC). The annual list highlights researchers at Illinois universities who have made significant advances in their field.  

Prasun was named in the Improving Health Outcomes category. Her research focuses include heart failure, atrial fibrillation, biomarkers, symptom management, quality of life, medication adherence, and patient education. “Both as an advanced practice nurse and researcher, Professor Prasun has dedicated her career to improving patient outcomes,” said ISTC Director Matthew Bragg.  

Sedbrook was named in the Sustainability and Future Ag category. His research leverages gene editing to create new varieties of crops for human use. “Professor Sedbrook’s work has the potential to turn pennycress, which is typically considered a weed, into valuable animal feed, biodiesel, and even jet fuel,” noted Bragg.  

Prasun and Sedbrook join Dr. Paul Garris, Dr. Christopher Mulligan, Dr. Jin Ho Jo, Dr. Allison Harris, and Dr. Andrés Vidal-Gadea as Illinois State faculty members previously recognized by the ISTC since the recognition began in 2018. “It is exciting to see Illinois State faculty continue to be recognized by the ISTC for their innovative efforts,” said Associate Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies Dr. Craig C. McLauchlan. “The success of our faculty is a testament to the University’s commitment to providing an environment for faculty research, creativity, and advancement.”  

The ISTC is a member-driven nonprofit organization dedicated to growing Illinois’ economy and expanding economic opportunity through support for science, technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship. Discover all the 2021 Researchers to Know.

Dr. Marilyn Prasun head shot
Dr. Marilyn Prasun

Marilyn Prasun 
Prasun is the Carle BroMenn Endowed Professor in the Mennonite College of Nursing at Illinois State University. She has worked with patients diagnosed with heart failure in both the hospital and ambulatory care setting for more than 20 years as an advanced practice nurse and researcher. She works closely with graduate nursing students completing their terminal degree and teaches research. 

Prasun has served as primary investigator and co-investigator on several research studies regarding heart failure and has published in multiple journals. She was the 2002 recipient of the American Heart Association Martha N. Hill New Investigator of the Year Award, sponsored by the Council on Cardiovascular Nursing for her research regarding diuretic titration in patients with heart failure. She continues her research in heart failure and recently completed a funded study examining provider’s accuracy in assigning New York Heart Association (NYHA) classifications. The results of this study were presented at the American Heart Association scientific sessions and will be in press in the fall. She developed a NYHA-FC guide to facilitate assignment and the research team just completed a second study examining provider’s accuracy of assigning class while using the guide.  

Active in many professional organizations, Prasun is a fellow in the American Heart Association. She is a charter member of the American Association of Heart Failure Nurses (AAHFN) where she has served as president and now serves as the chair of the Heart Failure Patient Foundation and the Nursing Research Consortium. In 2019 she was given the AAHFN Distinguished Member Award for her service and contributions to heart failure nursing. 

Professor John Sedbrook with pennycress at Millenium Park in Chicago.
Professor John Sedbrook with pennycress at Millennium Park in Chicago.

John Sedbrook 
Sedbrook is a professor of genetics in the School of Biological Sciences. His research focuses on fundamental and translational research aimed at developing new crops to be grown sustainably on otherwise fallow farmland. Sedbrook and his team, in collaboration with the startup company CoverCress, Inc., have domesticated the weed, pennycress, into the oilseed cash cover crop, Covercress, by employing CRISPR gene-editing technologies in combination with traditional breeding. The crop Covercress will be commercially launched in 2022. When fully adopted, Covercress has the potential to produce up to 3 billion gallons of canola-quality seed oil annually along with high-protein seed meal. 

The strength of Sedbrook’s research has led the U.S. Department of Energy to fund a $13 million nationwide project named the Integrated Pennycress Resilience Project (IPREP), led by Sedbrook at Illinois State University, to improve the stress resilience of the crop, Covercress. This funding comes on the heels of a $10 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2019 that funds the Integrated Pennycress Research Enabling Farm and Energy Resilience (IPREFER) project, which has the goal of establishing domesticated pennycress throughout the Midwest as a new oilseed cash cover crop.  

Sedbrook has received the 2020 Illinois State University Outstanding University Researcher Award and the 2017 Illinois State University College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding College Researcher Award and holds three patents for his groundbreaking work.