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, IN OUR 6TH ROUND OF SEED GRANTS, WE'VE RECEIVED 118 LETTERS OF INTENT (LOIs), AND 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.

Each year, Bio-X holds 2 annual IIP symposia which showcases the awarded seed grant projects. The most current symposium was held on February 13, 2012 at the Clark Center, 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 utilizes 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 excellent jobs in industry and academia.

The 2012 Bio-X Fellowship awardees will be announced soon. Competition is intense, with only ~15% of proposals accepted each year. To view the numerous projects that have been awarded over the years, please click here.

** On THURSDAY, JUNE 21, 2012, the BIO-X FELLOWS SYMPOSIUM will be taking place at the Clark Center Auditorium between 2 to 5 pm. The symposium will be composed of 4 15-minute talks and one-minute introductions of the various research done by the Fellows, as well as the announcement of the new Bio-X and Bio-X SIGF Fellows by Dr. Carla Shatz. Please see below under EVENTS or click here for the symposium details.

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.



Bioengineer Stephen Quake wins $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize
Bio-X Affiliated Faculty Member Stephen Quake
Stephen Quake, PhD, a professor of bioengineering and of applied physics at Stanford University and an investigator for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, has been named the 2012 winner of the $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize. Holder of over 80 patents, founder of at least four companies based on his conceptions and inventor of technologies that have transformed science and medicine, Quake does work that cuts across a diverse array of fields, such as genomic sequencing, microfluidics, immunology, infectious disease and medical diagnostics. His innovations include a rapid DNA sequencer, a non-invasive prenatal test for Down syndrome and the biological equivalent of the integrated circuit. “We are thrilled to honor Steve Quake, whose groundbreaking work in the field of molecular measurement has created new devices and technologies that will contribute to improving health,” said Dorothy Lemelson, chair of The Lemelson Foundation, a private philanthropy that funds the Lemelson-MIT Program. “Stephen has also been a pioneer in inventing new tools that will allow others to engage in scientific discovery and the prototyping of new biomedical devices quicker and easier, paving the way for even more breakthrough ideas.” Quake is one of an emerging class of scientists in the burgeoning discipline of bioengineering, which seeks to fuse engineering and life sciences to promote scientific discovery and the development of new technologies and therapies in human health and environmental sustainability.

A different drummer: Stanford engineers discover neural rhythms drive physical movement
Bio-X Affiliated Faculty Krishna Shenoy
The neurons that control movement are not a predictable bunch. Scientists working to decode how such neurons convey information to muscles have been stymied when trying to establish a one-to-one relationship between a neuron’s behavior and factors such as muscle activity or movement velocity. In an article published online June 3rd by the journal Nature, a team of electrical engineers and neuroscientists working at Stanford University propose a new theory of the brain activity behind arm movements. Their theory is a significant departure from existing understanding and helps to explain, in relatively simple and elegant terms, some of the more perplexing aspects of the activity of neurons in the motor cortex. In their paper, electrical engineering Associate Professor Krishna Shenoy and post-doctoral researchers Mark Churchland, now a professor at Columbia, and John Cunningham of Cambridge University, now a professor at Washington University in Saint Louis, have shown that the brain activity controlling arm movement does not encode external spatial information – such as direction, distance, and speed – but is instead rhythmic in nature.

Antioxidant shows promise as treatment for certain features of autism, study finds
Bio-X Affiliated Faculty Antonio Hardan
A specific antioxidant supplement may be an effective therapy for some features of autism, according to a pilot trial from the Stanford University School of Medicine and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital that involved 31 children with the disorder. The antioxidant, called N-Acetylcysteine, or NAC, lowered irritability in children with autism as well as reduced the children’s repetitive behaviors. The researchers emphasized that the findings must be confirmed in a larger trial before NAC can be recommended for children with autism. ... The study appears in the June 1 issue of Biological Psychiatry. Hardan is an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford and director of the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Clinic at Packard Children’s.

Studies show new drug to be effective in treating skin cancer, researchers say
Dermatology Faculty Member Jean Tang, and Bio-X Affiliated Faculty Anthony Oro
A new drug has been shown to be effective in treating and preventing the most common cancer in the United States: basal cell carcinoma skin cancer, according to a new study in the New England Journal of Medicine published June 7. The drug, vismodegib (trade name: Erivedge), was tested in a clinical trial in patients with Gorlin syndrome, a rare disease in which individuals have tens to hundreds of disfiguring basal cell carcinoma tumors. The findings are being released in conjunction with two other papers in the same journal issue that show the effectiveness of vismodegib in treating BCCs that are advanced or metastatic. All three articles include authors from the Stanford University School of Medicine. ... “How often in your life do you get to have worked within a field where you finally get to test to a drug that actually changes people’s lives?” said Jean Tang, MD, PhD, assistant professor of dermatology at Stanford and first author of the study. “We were very excited about the results.” She added: “In most subjects, all the carcinomas clinically disappeared. No tumors progressed while the subjects took vismodegib.” ... The second of the three papers presents the findings from the phase-2 Genentech-sponsored clinical trial that were the basis for the FDA’s decision to allow vismodegib to be used to treat advanced forms of BCC in adults. ... In the third article — a letter to the editor detailing a case study of a 41-year-old man who had skin cancers all over his body caused by a unique genetic mutation in the Hedgehog pathway different from Gorlin syndrome — the cancer still responded well to vismodegib. This suggests that Hedgehog-inhibiting drugs like vismodegib could be successful in treating a variety of other invasive cancers caused by abnormalities in the pathway, said Anthony Oro, MD, PhD, senior author of the letter and a professor of dermatology at Stanford.



June 12, 2012, 12 pm - 1 pm
Alway, M-106, Stanford, CA
“Integrating Biomarker Discovery with Immunology Discovery in Transplantation: Defining Chronic Rejection, the Epigenetics of Memory and the Nexus with the Microbiome”
Speaker: Daniel R. Salomon, MD, Professor of The Scripps Research Institute
June 12, 2012, 4:15 pm - 5:15 pm
Alway, M-106, Stanford, CA
"Insights into T cell and cytokine receptor signaling from combinatorial and structural biology"
Speaker: Christopher Garcia, PhD, Professor of Stanford University
June 13, 2012, 4 pm - 5 pm
Clark Center Auditorium, Stanford, CA
FRONTIERS IN BIOLOGY - "Interaction of RNA editing and RNA interference mechanisms"
Speaker: Kazuko Nishikura, PhD, Professor of Wistar Institute
Cardiovascular Institute
June 19, 2012, 12 pm - 1 pm
Li Ka Shing Center, Paul Berg Hall, Stanford, CA
“Using Gene Networks and Race In Genomic Analyses of Cardiovascular Disease”
Speaker: Marco Perez, MD, Instructor of Stanford University
June 21, 2012, 2 - 5 pm
Clark Center Auditorium: Stanford, CA

Symposium Talk Titles and Speakers:
2:00 pm - Introduction by Dr. Carla Shatz

2:10 pm - Mihalis Kariolis, Bioengineering
Engineering receptor based antagonists of the Gas6/Axl system for therapeutic applications

2:25 pm - Elsa Birch, Chemical Engineering
Host metabolic interaction during viral infection: modeling and measuring T7 phage infection of E. coli

2:40 pm - Jack Wang, Neurobiology
Local Axonal Protection by WldS as Revealed by Conditional Regulation of Protein Stability

2:55 pm - Jennifer Brady, Microbiology and Immunology
Mechanisms of Nuclear Reprogramming Elucidated by Heterokaryon RNA Sequencing

3:10 pm - One-minute introduction by fellows and introduction of new Bio-X and Bio-X SIGF Fellows by Dr. Carla Shatz

4:00 pm - Reception - Clark Center 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: 
June 11, 2012