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Welcome to the biweekly electronic newsletter from Stanford Bio-X for members of the Bio-X Corporate Forum. The following are key links to the history of Bio-X and the Clark Center (hub of Bio-X): Bio-X Timeline, CLARK CENTER @ 10X, and President John Hennessy's article calling Bio-X and the Clark Center "A Cauldron of Innovation".
Please contact Dr. Hanwei Li, the Bio-X Corporate Forum Liaison if you would like to be added or removed from this distribution list, or if you have any questions about Stanford Bio-X or Stanford University.

Bio-X Core Programs

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. Currently, the IIP is in its 7th round, and awards approximately $4 million every other year in the form of two-year grants averaging about $200,000 each. The first 6 rounds have resulted in a 10-fold-plus return on investment, hundreds of publications, dozens of patents filed, and most importantly, the acceleration of scientific discovery and innovation. In total, Bio-X has awarded 164 IIP Seed Grants, with the 22 newest ones selected just last year from 142 Letters of Intent (LOIs).

The Bio-X Fellowships started in 2004, and are awarded every year to graduate students and postdoctoral scholars of Bio-X affiliated faculty whose projects are interdisciplinary and utilize the technologies of different fields to solve different biological questions. Our fellows have conducted exciting research, resulting in publications in high-impact journals and have been offered excellent positions in industry and academia. To date, Stanford Bio-X has a total of 198 Fellows. We announced the 25 new winners of the 2015 PhD Fellowship program during the Fellows Symposium on Oct 6, 2015. Click here to view the 198 Fellowship projects, and here for the oral presentations from previous symposiums.

The Bio-X Undergraduate Summer Research Program (USRP) trains ambitious and stellar undergraduates by supporting interdisciplinary undergraduate summer research projects. The program is an invaluable opportunity for students to conduct hands-on research, learn how to carry out experiments in the laboratory, and develop the skills to read and analyze scientific literature. To date, 371 awards have been given to the Stanford undergraduate community in the past 11 years. The 2015 USRP had 65 students selected from nearly 170 applicants, and the program culminated in the poster presentation of the latest Bio-X IIP Seed Grant Symposium in August. Click here to read the various USRP projects, and here for Faculty Talks by participating hosting faculty members each summer.

SYMPOSIUMS: Bio-X also holds symposiums every year that highlight our core programs, including the IIP Seed Grants Program Symposiums, the Fellows Symposiums, and the Annual Symposiums.

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


Killifish project explores the genetic foundation of longevity
Bio-X Affiliated Faculty Anne Brunet

Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have mapped the genome of an unusually short-lived fish, paving the way for scientists to use the organism to study how genes influence longevity. The researchers published the genome map of the African turquoise killifish Dec. 3 in Cell, along with early insights into the genetic determinants of its life span. Using a statistical analysis that looks at mutation rates across different organisms, the scientists found evidence that some of the same rare genes that have persisted in the killifish gene pool over centuries have also persisted in the gene pools of some unusually long-lived animals. The researchers wonder if this means there are certain genes that evolution has “tuned” to create varying life spans. "The range of life spans seen in nature is truly astonishing, and really we have very little insight into how this has evolved or how this works," said Anne Brunet, PhD, professor of genetics at Stanford and senior author of the study. "By having the genome of this fish and comparing it to other species, we start seeing differences that could underlie life span differences both between species and also within a species." The study's lead author is Dario Valenzano, PhD, a former postdoctoral scholar in Brunet's lab who now directs his own lab at the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Aging.


Biologists develop novel antiviral approach to preventing viral infections that cause dengue fever
Bio-X Affiliated Faculty Judith Frydman

The virus that causes dengue fever infects an estimated 390 million people per year. Infection often leads to symptoms so severe that it was once called "breakbone fever" for the pain it causes, or even death. It's the fastest-growing and most prevalent mosquito-borne virus in the world, and although a third of the world's population is at risk of infection, there currently aren't any effective antiviral treatments or vaccines. A new study of the virus, led by Judith Frydman, a professor of biology and of genetics at Stanford, shows how disrupting a critical cellular pathway in the host can block the virus's life cycle at multiple steps. Drugs targeting this pathway could prevent virus infection in human and mosquito cells without eliciting drug resistance, the main problem in most antiviral therapies. This strategy, detailed in the journal Cell, could offer novel therapies against the dengue fever virus, also known as DENV, as well as other related human pathogens, such as West Nile virus, yellow fever and tick-borne encephalitis.


Researchers find sleep gene linked to heart failure
Bio-X Affiliated Faculty Euan Ashley

Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have identified a gene that, when working properly, appears to reduce the risk of heart failure and improve treatment outcomes, highlighting a possible target for the development of new drugs. The gene codes for a protein that was first identified when a mutated form was shown to cause narcolepsy. Caring for patients with heart failure costs the United States $40 billion a year, according to Euan Ashley, MRCP, DPhil, associate professor of cardiovascular medicine at Stanford. Despite the condition’s enormous impact, few new treatments have been developed, and those that exist produce varied responses among patients. One major challenge to the development of new treatments has been the lack of genes that can be confidently associated with heart failure. Ashley is hopeful that the new finding will open doors to evaluating possible treatments. The research is described in a paper published online Nov. 30 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Ashley is the senior author. The lead author is Marco Perez, MD, assistant professor of cardiovascular medicine, who said the study was motivated by the observation that individual patients with heart failure often respond differently to the same types of medical interventions.


Infertile men have a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, study finds
Bio-X Affiliated Faculty Michael Eisenberg

Men diagnosed with infertility have a higher risk of developing other general health ailments, including diabetes, ischemic heart disease, alcohol abuse, and drug abuse, compared with fertile men, according to a study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine. The study, published online Dec. 7 in Fertility and Sterility, is one of several conducted by investigators at the medical school that suggest male infertility is associated with higher rates of mortality and health problems unrelated to reproductive health. The study's lead author, Michael Eisenberg, MD, assistant professor of urology and director of male reproductive medicine and surgery at Stanford, hopes the findings will encourage more men diagnosed with infertility to seek follow-up care. "For members of this group of reproductive-age men, they usually don't go to the doctor unless there is a big problem," Eisenberg said. "A lot of time fertility is one of the first things that brings them to the doctor, so in some ways that might be an opportunity to engage the health-care system and see what's going on with their general health."


Common treatment for prostate cancer appears to double Alzheimer’s risk
Bio-X Affiliated Faculty Nigam Shah

A review of the electronic medical records of thousands of prostate cancer patients at two major medical institutions revealed a nearly two-fold increase in the rate of Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis among those treated with androgen deprivation therapy. The study, by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine and the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, demonstrates emerging techniques for extracting biomedical data from ordinary patient medical records. The paper was published online Dec. 7 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. Nigam Shah, MBBS, PhD, associate professor of biomedical informatics research at Stanford, is the senior author. The lead author, Kevin Nead, MD, is a resident at the University of Pennsylvania who got his medical degree at Stanford.


Stanford engineers develop 'invisible wires' that could improve solar cell efficiency
Bio-X Affiliated Faculty Yi Cui

A solar cell is basically a semiconductor, which converts sunlight into electricity, sandwiched between metal contacts that carry the electrical current. But this widely used design has a flaw: The critical but shiny metal on top of the cell reflects sunlight away from the semiconductor where electricity is produced, reducing the cell's efficiency. Now Stanford scientists have discovered how to hide the reflective upper contact and funnel light directly to the semiconductor below. Their findings, published in the journal ACS Nano, could lead to a new paradigm in the design and fabrication of solar cells. (See video here.) "Using nanotechnology, we have developed a novel way to make the upper metal contact nearly invisible to incoming light," said study lead author Vijay Narasimhan, who conducted the work as a graduate student at Stanford. "Our new technique could significantly improve the efficiency and thereby lower the cost of solar cells."


Stanford engineers invent process to accelerate protein evolution
Bio-X Affiliated Faculty Jennifer Cochran and SPRC Executive Director Tom Baer, and Bio-X Bowes Fellow Sungwon Lim

All living things require proteins, members of a vast family of molecules that nature "makes to order" according to the blueprints in DNA. Through the natural process of evolution, DNA mutations generate new or more effective proteins. Humans have found so many alternative uses for these molecules – as foods, industrial enzymes, anti-cancer drugs – that scientists are eager to better understand how to engineer protein variants designed for specific uses. Now Stanford engineers have invented a technique to dramatically accelerate protein evolution for this purpose. This technology, described in Nature Chemical Biology, allows researchers to test millions of variants of a given protein, choose the best for some task and determine the DNA sequence that creates this variant.


January 12, 2016, 12:15 pm - 1 pm
Clark Center S361, Stanford, CA
Pre-Seminar for Bio-X Frontiers in Interdisciplinary Biosciences "Cell survival under starvation"
Speaker: Kang Shen, Stanford
January 14, 2016, 12:15 pm - 1 pm
Clark Center S360, Stanford, CA
Seminar for Bio-X Frontiers in Interdisciplinary Biosciences - "Cell Survival Under Starvation"
Speaker: Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz, NIH
Stanford University
Stanford Bio-X
Bio-X Seed Grants
The Stanford 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 Stanford Bio-X or Stanford University, please contact Dr. Hanwei Li, the Bio-X Corporate Forum Liaison, at 650-725-1523 or, or Dr. Heideh Fattaey, the Executive Director of Bio-X Operations and Programs, at 650-799-1608 or

Release Date: 
December 14, 2015