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.

CURRENTLY, WE ARE HAVING 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 114 different projects that have been funded so far, please click here.

On February 13, 2012, we held one of our two annual IIP symposia at the Clark Center, which showcases the awarded seed grant projects. 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.


Annual Symposium

rEvolution - Transcending the Past

Three quarters of a century since the "Modern Synthesis" and twice as long since Darwin and Mendel, evolution is still predominantly a historical discipline. Although the essence of evolution is dynamical and founded in an interplay between molecular and population level processes, this aspect has been hardest to study. Recent breakthroughs in DNA sequencing together with experimental and computational advances, are enabling evolution to be followed and manipulated as it occurs. This has sown the seeds for a revolution in the understanding of evolution.

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. To view the agenda, please click on the link above in this section.



Innovator: Daphne Koller Brings the World Into Stanford Classes
Bio-X affiliated faculty Daphne Koller (in Bloomberg Businessweek)
As Daphne Koller prepares to teach a course called Probabilistic Graphical Models this spring, the Stanford University computer science professor is in uncharted territory. More than 44,000 people across the globe have registered for the class, many times the total number of students she has taught in 17 years at Stanford. Koller and her colleague Andrew Ng last fall founded Coursera, a company that has created one of the world’s most advanced free online learning efforts. More than 250,000 people in 172 countries signed up for the first three computer science offerings. A second batch is expected to include 15 classes, adding other fields such as anatomy and social sciences.

Mini molecules could help fight battle of aortic bulge, study shows
Bio-X affiliated faculty Philip Tsao
When aortic walls buckle, the body’s main blood pipe forms an ever-growing bulge. To thwart a deadly rupture, a team of Stanford University School of Medicine researchers has found two tiny molecules that may be able to orchestrate an aortic defense. A team led by cardiovascular scientists Philip Tsao, PhD, and Joshua Spin, MD, PhD, identified two microRNAs — small molecules that usually block proteins from being made — that work to strengthen the aorta during bulge growth. By tweaking the activity of each molecule, they could reduce abdominal aortic aneurysms in mice, which they believe is a promising step toward a new treatment for the disease. Their findings were published Feb. 22 in Science Translational Medicine and are a continuation of work the researchers published Feb. 1 in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Scientists trigger muscle stem cells to divide
Bio-X affiliated faculty Thomas Rando
A tiny piece of RNA plays a key role in determining when muscle stem cells from mice activate and start to divide, according to researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine. The finding may help scientists learn how to prepare human muscle stem cells for use in therapies for conditions such as muscular dystrophy and aging by controlling their activation state. It’s the first time that a small regulatory RNA, called a microRNA, has been implicated in the maintenance of the adult stem cell resting, or quiescent, state. “Although on the surface the quiescent state seems to be relatively static, it’s quite actively maintained,” said Thomas Rando, MD, PhD, professor of neurology and neurological sciences. “We’ve found that changing the levels of just one specific microRNA in resting muscle stem cells, however, causes them to spring into action.” Rando, who is also the director of Stanford’s Glenn Laboratories for the Biology of Aging and the deputy director of the Stanford Center on Longevity, is the senior author of the research, published Feb. 23 in Nature.

Tiny, implantable medical device can propel itself through bloodstream
Bio-X affiliated faculty Ada Poon
Someday, your doctor may turn to you and say, “Take two surgeons and call me in the morning.” If that day arrives, you may just have Ada Poon to thank. Yesterday, at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) before an audience of her peers, electrical engineer Poon demonstrated a tiny, wirelessly powered, self-propelled medical device capable of controlled motion through a fluid—blood more specifically. The era of swallow-the-surgeon medical care may no longer be the stuff of science fiction. Poon is an assistant professor at the Stanford School of Engineering. She is developing a new class of medical devices that can be implanted or injected into the human body and powered wirelessly using electromagnetic radio waves. No batteries to wear out. No cables to provide power. “Such devices could revolutionize medical technology,” said Poon. “Applications include everything from diagnostics to minimally invasive surgeries.” Certain of these new devices, like heart probes, chemical and pressure sensors, cochlear implants, pacemakers, and drug pumps, would be stationary within the body. Others, like Poon’s most recent creations, could travel through the bloodstream to deliver drugs, perform analyses, and perhaps even zap blood clots or removing plaque from sclerotic arteries.

Benefits of hepatitis C treatment outweigh costs for patients with advanced disease, study shows
School of Medicine Faculty Jeremy Goldhaber-Fiebert
A towering $60,000 bill, a year of fierce, flu-like symptoms and a running risk of depression are among the possible costs of two new hepatitis C treatments. But according to Stanford University health policy researchers, they might be worth it. Using a computer model of hepatitis C disease — which accounts for different treatments, outcomes, disease stages and genetics — a research team led by Jeremy Goldhaber-Fiebert, PhD, found that new triple-therapies for genotype-1 hepatitis C are cost-effective for patients with advanced disease. Their results were published Feb. 21 in the Annals of Internal Medicine. “With so many simultaneous factors, it’s very hard to know what to do,” said Shan Liu, a graduate student in management science and engineering in the School of Engineering and lead author of the study. “I think building models is a very eloquent and abstract way to inform difficult policy decisions.”



Developmental Biology
March 7, 2012, 4 pm - 5 pm
Clark Center Auditorium, Stanford, CA
FRONTIERS IN BIOLOGY: "Imaging the cellular and molecular dynamics that pattern embryos"
Speaker: Scott Fraser, PhD, Professor of Caltech
Nanotechnology Seminar Series
March 8, 2012, 5:30 pm - 6:30 pm
LPCH Freidenrich Auditorium, Stanford, CA
"Protocells: Mesoporous Silica Supported Lipid Bilayers for Targeted Delivery of Multicomponent Cargos to Cancer "
Speaker: C. Jeffrey Brinker, PhD, Professor of University of New Mexico
March 15, 2012, 3:15 - 4 pm
Clark Center Auditorium, Stanford, CA
FRONTIERS IN INTERDISCIPLINARY BIOSCIENCES: "From the Structure and Function of the Ribosome to New Antibiotics"
Speaker: Thomas A. Steitz, Ph.D., Professor at Yale University
Cardiovascular Institute
March 20, 2012, 12 pm - 1 pm
Li Ka Shing Center, Stanford, CA
"Biodesign: Technology innovation as a Discipline"
Speaker: Paul Yock, MD, Professor of Stanford University, Director of Biodesign
Biodesign Program's 2012 From the Innovator's Workbench series featuring
Alex Gorsky, Vice Chairman, Executive Committee, Johnson & Johnson
March 14, 2012, 5:30 - 7:00 pm
Li Ka Shing Berg Hall
291 Campus Drive
Li Ka Shing Building, 2nd Floor
Stanford, CA 94305-5101
For registration information: http://biodesign.stanford.edu/bdn/networking/workbench.jsp
For further information please contact: MARY GORMAN, Biodesign Program, (650)736-1161, marygorman@stanford.edu, http://biodesign.stanford.edu/



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: 
March 05, 2012