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 spring, we will have our call for proposals for the 6th round of seed grants from our faculty. Competition is intense, and the criteria for the proposals include innovation, high-reward, and interdisciplinary collaboration. To view the different projects that have been funded, please click here.


Every year, two symposia are held at the Clark Center to showcase the seed grant projects. Talks that are presented at the symposia are recorded, and can be viewed here. THE NEXT IIP SYMPOSIUM WILL TAKE PLACE AT THE CLARK CENTER ON MONDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2012. Please click here or see below in EVENTS for the list of speakers. Fresh off the press is the list of poster titles that will be showcased after the talks.

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.


Annual Symposium

REvolution - Transcending the Past

Bio-X will be hosting its annual symposium on March 12-13, 2012 from 9 am to 5:30 pm on both days in the Clark Center Auditorium. This two-day symposium on modern aspects of evolution will highlight recent developments and prospects for the future in a spectrum of contexts including: microbial evolution in the laboratory, rapid human-driven evolution, and evolution of cancers and immune repertoires within individuals. After a day and a half of general-audience talks, the second afternoon will be an informal workshop with talks by Stanford students and postdoctoral Fellows on future directions in experimental evolution including technological and theoretical advances and hopes.



Principles for applying optogenetic tools derived from direct comparative analysis of microbial opsins is a publication in Nature Methods Volume 9 No 2. The senior author is Bio-X affiliated faculty Karl Deisseroth, who is a Clark Center resident and heads the Optogenetics Innovation Lab. Three of the authors are Bio-X Fellows, including Joanna Mattis (one of the three first authors), Lisa Gunaydin, and Viviana Gradinaru.
ABSTRACT: Diverse optogenetic tools have allowed versatile control over neural activity. Many depolarizing and hyperpolarizing tools have now been developed in multiple laboratories and tested across different preparations, presenting opportunities but also making it difficult to draw direct comparisons. This challenge has been compounded by the dependence of performance on parameters such as vector, promoter, expression time, illumination, cell type and many other variables. As a result, it has become increasingly complicated for end users to select the optimal reagents for their experimental needs. For a rapidly growing field, critical figures of merit should be formalized both to establish a framework for further development and so that end users can readily understand how these standardized parameters translate into performance. Here we systematically compared microbial opsins under matched experimental conditions to extract essential principles and identify key parameters for the conduct, design and interpretation of experiments involving optogenetic techniques.

Scientists turn skin cells into neural precursors, bypassing stem-cell stage
Bio-X affiliated faculty Marius Wernig
Mouse skin cells can be converted directly into cells that become the three main parts of the nervous system, according to researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine. The finding is an extension of a previous study by the same group showing that mouse and human skin cells can be directly converted into functional neurons. The multiple successes of the direct conversion method could refute the idea that pluripotency (a term that describes the ability of stem cells to become nearly any cell in the body) is necessary for a cell to transform from one cell type to another. Together, the results raise the possibility that embryonic stem cell research and another technique called “induced pluripotency” could be supplanted by a more direct way of generating specific types of cells for therapy or research. This new study, published online Jan. 30 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is a substantial advance over the previous paper in that it transforms the skin cells into neural precursor cells, as opposed to neurons.

Stanford/Packard imaging study shows how humor activates kids' brain regions
Bio-X affiliated faculty Allan Reiss
For the first time, researchers have scanned the brains of children watching funny videos to examine which of their brain regions are active as their sense of humor develops. The new findings from the Stanford University School of Medicine show that some parts of the brain network that respond to humor in adults already exist in 6- to 12-year-olds, though the neural circuits become more sophisticated as kids grow. The researchers hope the work will provide a base for understanding how positive emotions, such as a sense of humor, could affect a child’s well-being. “Humor is a very important component of emotional health, maintaining relationships, developing cognitive function and perhaps even medical health,” said Allan Reiss, MD, who directs the Center for Interdisciplinary Brain Sciences Research at Stanford. Reiss is the senior author of a study describing the new findings, published Feb. 1 in the Journal of Neuroscience.

Women report feeling pain more intensely than men, says study of electronic records
Bio-X affiliated faculty Atul Butte
Women report more-intense pain than men in virtually every disease category, according to Stanford University School of Medicine investigators who mined a huge collection of electronic medical records to establish the broad gender difference to a high level of statistical significance. Their study, published online Jan. 23 in the Journal of Pain, suggests that stronger efforts should be made to recruit women subjects in population and clinical studies in order to find out why this gender difference exists. The study also shows the value of EMR data mining for research purposes. Using a novel database designed especially for research, the Stanford scientists examined more than 160,000 pain scores reported for more than 72,000 adult patients. From these, they extracted cases where disease-associated pain was first reported, and then stratified these findings by disease and gender. “None of these data were initially collected for research, but this study shows that we can use it in that capacity,” said Atul Butte, MD, PhD, the study’s senior author.



February 7, 2012, 12 pm - 1 pm
Alway Bldg Rm 114, Stanford, CA
"Integrating Muscle Biopsy and Molecular Genetics in the Diagnosis of Muscular Dystrophies"
Speaker: Steven A. Moore, MD, PhD, Professor of University of Iowa
February 8, 2012, 4 pm - 5 pm
Clark Center Auditorium, Stanford, CA
"Frontiers in Biology: Atp-dependent and independent mechanisms for regulating chromatin structure"
Speaker: Geeta Narlikar, PhD, Professor at UCSF
Nanotechnology Seminar Series
February 9, 2012, 5:30 pm - 6:30 pm
LPCH Freidenrich Auditorium, Stanford, CA
"Uncovering New Biology Using Secretome-Based Expression and Protein Microarray Screening Platforms for Receptor/Ligand Discovery"
Speaker: Lino Gonzalez, Jr., PhD, Genentech, Inc.
February 14, 2012, 4 pm - 5 pm
Li Ka Shing Center 130, Stanford, CA
"A new look at defects in peripheral tolerance in type one diabetes"
Speaker: Garry Fathman, MD, Professor of Stanford University
February 13, 2012, 1 - 5 pm
Clark Center Auditorium: Stanford, CA

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

1:10 pm - Quantitative analysis of virus spread with and without cell lysis - Karla Kirkegaard (Microbiology & Immunology)

1:30 pm - Measurement and modeling of the persistence length of native and reconstituted chromatin - Aaron Straight (Biochemistry)

1:50 pm - Computational analysis of tumor morphology to build prognostic models and discover biological networks in breast cancer - Daphne Koller (Computer Science)

2:10 pm - Bio-mechanical force sensing and remodeling by cell-cell junctions in multicellular tissues - Bill Weis (Structural Biology)

2:30 pm - Environmental control of cell and genome size: A case study of Foraminifera - Jonathan Payne (Geological & Environmental Sciences)

2:50 pm - A novel approach for the structural determination of oligomeric complexes by in-silico prediction methods and mass spectrometry: Application to the chaperonin TRiC - Michael Levitt (Structural Biology)

3:10 pm - Elucidating on the mechanism of protein-protein interactions in epigenetic events from electronic spectroscopy measurements - Roger Howe (Electrical Engineering)

3:30 pm - Optical stimulation of neural stem cell grafts and modulation of existing neural circuit deficits - Gary Steinberg (Neurosurgery)

3:50 pm - Closing comments

4:00 pm - Reception and poster session (Nexus Cafe)



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: 
February 06, 2012