Welcome to the biweekly electronic newsletter from the Bio-X Program at Stanford University for members of the Bio-X Corporate Forum. Please contact us if you would like to be added or removed from this distribution list, or if you have any questions about Bio-X or Stanford.

Seed Grant Program

SEED GRANTS FOR SUCCESS - Stanford Bio-X Interdisciplinary Initiatives Program (IIP)

The Bio-X Interdisciplinary Initiatives Program represents a key Stanford Initiative to address challenges in human health. The IIP awards approximately $3 million every other year in the form of two-year grants averaging about $150,000 each. From its inception in 2000 through the fifth round in 2010, the program has provided critical early-stage funding to 114 different interdisciplinary projects, involving collaborations from over 300 faculty members, and creating over 450 teams from five different Stanford schools. From just the first 4 rounds, the IIP awards have resulted in a tenfold-plus return on investment, as well as hundreds of publications, dozens of patents filed, and most importantly, the acceleration of scientific discovery and innovation.

THIS YEAR IS OUR 6TH ROUND OF SEED GRANTS, AND WE'VE RECEIVED 118 LETTERS OF INTENT (LOIs). We're currently in the process of reviewing the selected LOIs, which will have full proposals as part of their seed grant applications. Competition is intense, and the criteria for the proposals include innovation, high-reward, and interdisciplinary collaboration. To view the 114 different projects that have been funded from the first 5 rounds, please click here.

** SAVE THE DATE ~ AUGUST 27, 2012: Each year, Bio-X holds 2 annual IIP symposia which showcases the awarded seed grant projects. The next one will take place on Monday, August 27, 2012 in the Clark Center Auditorium. Please click here for the oral presentation agenda. The last symposium was held on February 13, 2012, and over 150 attendants were present for the 8 podium presentations and 103 poster presentations. The recorded talks are now online.

We are cultivating and are highly successful in building meaningful collaborations with numerous corporate colleagues. New collaborations through our seed grant projects are highly encouraged. To learn about how to get involved, please contact Dr. Hanwei Li or Dr. Heideh Fattaey.




Every year, graduate students and postdoctoral scholars of Bio-X affiliated faculty are highly encouraged to apply for the Bio-X Fellowships, which are awarded to research projects that are interdisciplinary and utilize the technologies of different fields to solve different biological questions. Students are encouraged to work collaboratively with professors of different departments, thus creating cross-disciplinary relationships among the different Stanford schools. Our fellows have conducted exciting research, resulting in publications in high-impact journals and have been offered excellent positions in industry and academia.

** On Thursday June 21, 2012, our 18 newest Bio-X Fellowship awardees were just announced at the BIO-X FELLOWS SYMPOSIUM. The symposium also consisted of four 15-minute presentations and thirty-five 1-minute research introductions that truly demonstrated the synergy of different yet distinctive disciplines, merged together to address various life bioscience questions. To date, we now have a total of 126 Bio-X Fellows. To view the numerous projects that have been awarded over the years, please click here.

Many fruitful collaborations and relationships have been established with industry through these fellowships. Please contact Dr. Hanwei Li or Dr. Heideh Fattaey if you'd like to learn more about how to get involved with the Bio-X Fellowships.



Genetic mutations that cause common childhood brain tumors identified by team led by Stanford/Packard researchers
Bio-X Affiliated Faculty Yoon-Jae Cho

Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital have identified several gene mutations responsible for the most common childhood brain tumor, called medulloblastoma, adding evidence to the theory that the diagnosis is a group of genetically distinct cancers with different prognoses. These and accompanying findings are likely to lead to less-toxic, better-targeted treatment approaches over the next two years, the researchers said. “We tend to treat all medulloblastomas as one disease without taking into account how heterogeneous the tumors are at the molecular level,” said Yoon-Jae Cho, MD, an assistant professor of neurology and neurological sciences at Stanford, a pediatric neurologist at Packard Children’s and a co-senior author of the new research. “This paper represents a finer-grained view of the genetic landscape of these tumors and provides us with some leads on how to develop new therapies.” The other senior authors are Scott Pomeroy, MD, PhD, neurologist-in-chief at Children's Hospital Boston, and Matthew Meyerson, MD, PhD, professor of pathology at Harvard and a senior associate member at the Broad Institute. The research, which appeared online in Nature July 22, is part of a large, ongoing effort to characterize genetic errors in medulloblastoma.

Researchers discover reviled substance involved in Alzheimer's can reverse paralysis in mice with multiple sclerosis
Bio-X Affiliated Faculty Lawrence Steinman

A molecule widely assailed as the chief culprit in Alzheimer’s disease unexpectedly reverses paralysis and inflammation in several distinct animal models of a different disorder — multiple sclerosis, Stanford University School of Medicine researchers have found. This surprising discovery, reported in a study published online Aug. 1 as the cover feature in Science Translational Medicine, comes on the heels of the recent failure of a large-scale clinical trial aimed at slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s disease by attempting to clear the much-maligned molecule, known as A-beta, from Alzheimer’s patients’ bloodstreams. While the findings are not necessarily applicable to the study of A-beta’s role in the pathology of that disease, they may point to promising new avenues of treatment for multiple sclerosis.

New research shows how enzyme key to cell replication gets ferried to chromosome tips
Bio-X Affiliated Faculty Steven Artandi

Stem cells are special. Nestled in muscle and skin, organ and bone, they bide their time over years or decades until called to replace damaged or lost tissue. One secret to their longevity is an enzyme called telomerase, which stills the relentless ticking of the molecular clock that limits the life span of other cells. This cellular fountain of youth prevents the progressive shortening of the tips of our chromosomes that occurs with each cell division. But the presence of telomerase can be a double-edged sword: The same activity that ensures long life for stem cells can also keep a cancer cell dividing long after its aging neighbors have thrown in the towel. Conversely, a malfunction can prevent stem cells from doing their job and lead to devastating diseases. Now, for the first time, researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have identified how telomerase is recruited to chromosome ends — and figured out a way to block it.

Stanford scientists use microbes to make "clean" methane
Bio-X Affiliated Faculty Alfred Spormann

Microbes that convert electricity into methane gas could become an important source of renewable energy, according to scientists from Stanford and Pennsylvania State universities. Researchers at both campuses are raising colonies of microorganisms, called methanogens, which have the remarkable ability to turn electrical energy into pure methane – the key ingredient in natural gas. The scientists' goal is to create large microbial factories that will transform clean electricity from solar, wind or nuclear power into renewable methane fuel and other valuable chemical compounds for industry. "Most of today's methane is derived from natural gas, a fossil fuel," said Alfred Spormann, a professor of chemical engineering and of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford. "And many important organic molecules used in industry are made from petroleum. Our microbial approach would eliminate the need for using these fossil resources." While methane itself is a formidable greenhouse gas, 20 times more potent than CO2, the microbial methane would be safely captured and stored, thus minimizing leakage into the atmosphere, Spormann said. "The whole microbial process is carbon neutral," he explained. "All of the CO2 released during combustion is derived from the atmosphere, and all of the electrical energy comes from renewables or nuclear power, which are also CO2-free." Methane-producing microbes, he added, could help solve one of the biggest challenges for large-scale renewable energy: What to do with surplus electricity generated by photovoltaic power stations and wind farms.



Structural Biology
August 7, 2012, 4 pm - 5:15 pm
Li Ka Shing Center, Room 120, Stanford, CA
“Structural Insights into Ligand Binding Selectivity and Activation of G Protein Coupled Receptors”
Speaker: Brian Kobilka, MD, Stanford University
August 8, 2012, 9 am - 10 am
Clark Center Auditorium, Stanford, CA
“Point-Of-Care Microchips For Cancer Early Detection”
Speaker: Shuqi Wang, MD, PhD, Harvard University
Neurology and Neurosciences
August 10, 2012, 8 am - 8:50 am
Li Ka Shing Center, Room 130, Stanford, CA
“The emergence of neurohospitalists and the future of inpatient neurologic care”
Speaker: S. Andrew Josephson, MD, UCSF
Chemical and Systems Biology
August 24, 2012, 12 pm - 1 pm
Munzer Auditorium, Stanford, CA
“Mitochondrial genomics: new insights into an ancient organelle”
Speaker: Vamsi Mootha, MD, Harvard Medical School
Bio-X IIP Symposium
August 27, 1 - 5 pm
Clark Center Auditorium: Stanford, CA

Symposium Talk Titles and Speakers:
1:00pm ~ Introduction

1:10pm ~ Novel Molecular Force Probes to Investigate the Mechanism of Touch Sensation ~ Prof. Alexander Dunn (Chemical Engineering)

1:30pm ~ Examining the threshold of T cell memory by AFM-based receptor mapping ~ Prof. Manish Butte (Pediatrics)

1:50 pm ~ Imaging the Ovarian Cancer-Associated Protein AXL to Stage Disease and Monitor Therapy ~ Prof. Edward Graves (Radiation Oncology)

2:10pm ~ Computerized Quantitative Imaging Assessment of Age-Related Acute Macular Degeneration ~ Prof. Daniel Rubin (Radiology)

2:30pm ~ A compact optical sensor for parallel analysis of blood components ~ Prof. James Harris (Electrical Engineering)

2:50pm ~ Rapid Laser-based Diagnostic Tool for Pulmonary Tuberculosis ~ Prof. Robert Byer (Applied Physics)

3:10pm ~ Novel Silk Scaffolds for Pancreatic Islet Encapsulation ~ Prof. Magali Fontaine (Pathology)

3:30pm ~ Protection of mitochondrial functions in neurons from patients with Huntington’s diseases ~ Prof. Xin Qi (Case Western Reserve University)

3:50pm ~ Closing comments

4:00pm ~ Reception and poster session (Clark Courtyard)



Stanford University
Bio-X at Stanford University
Bio-X Seed Grants
The Bio-X Interdisciplinary Initiatives Program (IIP) provides seed funding for high-risk, high-reward, collaborative projects across the university, and have been highly successful in fostering transformative research.
Office of Technology and Licensing "Techfinder"
Search the OTL Technology Portal to find technologies available for licensing from Stanford.
Stanford Center for Professional Development
- Take advantage of your FREE membership!
- Take online graduate courses in engineering, leadership and management, bioscience, and more.
- Register for free webinars and seminars, and gets discounts on courses.
Stanford Biodesign Video Tutorials on how FDA approves medical devices
A series of video briefs recently produced by the Stanford Biodesign Program teaches innovators how to get a medical device approved for use in the United States. This free, online library of 60 videos provides detailed information on the Food and Drug Administration regulatory process, short case studies and advice on interacting with the FDA.

To learn more about Bio-X or Stanford University, please contact Dr. Hanwei Li, the Corporate Forum Liaison of Bio-X, at 650-725-1523 or lhanwei1@stanford.edu, or Dr. Heideh Fattaey, the Executive Director of Bio-X Operations and Programs, at 650-799-1608 or hfattaey@stanford.edu.

Release Date: 
August 06, 2012