Welcome to the biweekly electronic newsletter from Stanford Bio-X 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 Stanford Bio-X or Stanford University.


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 10-fold-plus return on investment, as well as hundreds of publications, dozens of patents filed, and most importantly, the acceleration of scientific discovery and innovation.

In 2012, Stanford Bio-X selected 23 new seed grant projects as the winners of the 6th round. Please go here to view the list of awardees, along with the titles of their projects and the abstracts of the research. Competition was intense as the awardees were chosen from 118 Letters of Intent (LOIs). Selection criteria included innovation, high-reward, and interdisciplinary collaboration. (To view the 114 other IIP projects that have been funded from the first 5 rounds, please click here.) In addition, SANOFI has also funded 4 new Bio-X IIP Seed Grant projects from round 6!

** On February 25, 2013, Stanford Bio-X held its latest annual IIP Seed Grant Symposium at the Clark Center. It was attended by over 150 people, and the symposium included 8 podium presentations and 116 poster presentations. The podium talks represented research from a wide array of fields (such as gene delivery to interactive gaming in biology to tele-robotic systems to stem cells to hedgehog signal transductions and more), with each project exemplifying the Stanford Bio-X mission of crossing boundaries to bring about interdisciplinary research and solutions in the field of life bioscience. The talks for this symposium are posted here. To view previously recorded talks, please go here.

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.

To date, Stanford Bio-X has a total of 126 Bio-X Fellows, including the 18 newest Fellowship awardees announced at last year's BIO-X FELLOWS SYMPOSIUM. Currently, Bio-X is in the process of reviewing its 10th year of applications and we look forward to continuing the support of our students' graduate training in interdisciplinary biosciences.

To view the numerous projects that have been awarded over the years, please click here.


The Bio-X Undergraduate Summer Research Program supports undergraduate research training through an award designed to support 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, 176 students have been awarded the opportunity to participate in the Bio-X Undergraduate Summer Research Program. Currently, Stanford Bio-X is in its 8th call for applications. This is eligible to Stanford students who wants to work in the labs of Bio-X affiliate faculty.

Participating undergraduates are also required to present poster presentations on the research that they've conducted during the program. Please click here for title lists of past posters that our undergraduates have presented.

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



Quake elected to national academy of sciences
Bio-X Affiliated Faculty Steve Quake

Stephen Quake, the Lee Otterson Professor in the School of Engineering and a professor of bioengineering, has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, one of the highest honors for an American scientist in recognition of distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. Five other Stanford faculty members joined Quake in this year’s class of new members. Drawing upon his physics background, Quake has introduced large-scale quantitative approaches in many areas of biology that were previously impossible to address. His innovations include a rapid DNA sequencer, a non-invasive prenatal test for Down syndrome and the biological equivalent of the integrated circuit.

Moore, Deisseroth named HHMI investigators
Bio-X Affiliated Faculty Tirin Moore and Karl Deisseroth

Two Stanford researchers are among 27 scientists appointed today by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute as investigators. They were chosen through a competitive selection process from a pool of more than 1,000 candidates. The new investigators are Tirin Moore, PhD associate professor of neurobiology, and Karl Deisseroth, MD, PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and of bioengineering. Both Moore and Deisseroth received HHMI Early Career Scientist appointments in 2009.

Spormann elected fellow of American Academy of Microbiology
Bio-X Affiliated Faculty Alfred Spormann

Alfred Spormann, a professor of civil and environmental engineering and of chemical engineering, has been elected a fellow the American Academy of Microbiology, in recognition of his significant contributions to the field of microbiology. Spormann studies anaerobic microbes to understand the molecular and biochemical basis of unusual metabolism, as well as the triangular relationship between metabolism, population-level fitness, and ecosystems-level niche construction. ... The American Academy of Microbiology is an honorific leadership group within the American Society for Microbiology, the world's oldest and largest life science organization. Its mission is to recognize scientists for outstanding contributions to microbiology and provide microbiological expertise in the service of science and the public.

Study reveals probable role of Parkinson's protein in healthy brain
Bio-X Affiliated Faculty Thomas Südhof and Axel Brunger

Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have exposed the possible function, in the healthy brain, of a mysterious molecule that has been strongly implicated in Parkinson's disease, a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system. They made their discovery using a stripped-down experimental system that mimics key aspects of how nerve cells communicate with one another. Thomas Südhof, MD, has devoted much of his career to understanding the goings-on in the terrifically complex nozzles from which nerve cells squirt specialized signaling chemicals called neurotransmitters. It is the diffusion of neurotransmitters from one nerve cell to the next that underpins our thoughts, feelings and movements. The brain's activity is no mere mob-action squirt-gun melee, though. For our most exalted organ to do its job, the signals sent by nerve cells must be marked by profound precision, both in their intensity and in their timing. The details of how this occurs are still coming into focus. Axel Brunger, PhD, devised a simplified experimental system that captured some of those inner workings, and was looking for interesting problems to solve with it. So he began sitting in on the Südhof lab's weekly meetings. "We'd just developed this new system, and we were scouting out interesting proteins implicated in nerve-cell signal transmission or, perhaps, in disease states," Brunger said. Both Südhof and Brunger are professors of molecular and cellular physiology as well as Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigators. They share senior authorship of a paper, published April 30 in eLife, describing the advance that came from the ensuing collaboration.

Researchers develop new technique to track cell interactions in living bodies
Bio-X Fellow Mark Sellmyer with Bio-X Affiliated Faculty Chris Contag and Tom Wandless

Researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine have developed a new technique to see how different types of cells interact in a living mouse. The process uses light-emitting proteins that glow when two types of cells come close together. Using the technique, the team was able to pinpoint where in the body metastatic cancer cells ended up after they broke off from an initial tumor site, using readily available lab reagents. The team chose chemicals that are easily available in most life sciences laboratories because they wanted to develop a technique that could be widely used. The study was published online May 6 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Until now, the best way to see cells interacting inside a living animal or person was to implant a microscope. But predicting all the places metastatic cancer cells will proliferate is nearly impossible. "There are currently no great ways to look at early metastasis, where metastases are finding their micro-environments and setting up shop," said Mark Sellmyer, MD, PhD, the study's lead author, who developed the technique as a graduate student working jointly for Christopher Contag, PhD, professor of pediatrics and of microbiology and immunology, and Tom Wandless, PhD, associate professor of chemical and systems biology.

Blocking protein expression delays onset of multiple sclerosis in mice, study says
Bio-X Affiliated Faculty Anne Brunet

Blocking the expression of just one protein in the brain delays the onset of paralysis in mice with a form of multiple sclerosis, say researchers at the School of Medicine. Exactly why this happens is still unclear. It may be, in part, that blocking expression of the protein, SIRT1, enhances the production of cells that make the insulating myelin sheath necessary for the transmission of nerve signals. This myelin coating is damaged in autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis and Guillain-Barre syndrome. Although much more research is needed, the findings suggest that it may one day be possible to induce the brains of patients with myelin-associated diseases or injuries to heal themselves by selectively interfering with the activity of SIRT1. “We are excited by the potential implications our study has on demyelinating diseases and injuries,” said Anne Brunet, PhD, an associate professor of genetics. “It’s intriguing because activating SIRT1 is typically considered to be beneficial for metabolism and health, but in this case, inactivating SIRT1 can provide protection against a demyelinating injury.” Brunet, who is also a member of the Stanford Cancer Institute, is the senior author of the research, which was published online May 5 in Nature Cell Biology. Postdoctoral scholar Victoria Rafalski, PhD, is the lead author of the study.

Stanford engineers monitor heart health using paper-thin flexible 'skin'
Bio-X Affiliated Faculty Zhenan Bao

Most of us don't ponder our pulses outside of the gym. But doctors use the human pulse as a diagnostic tool to monitor heart health. Zhenan Bao, a professor of chemical engineering at Stanford, has developed a heart monitor thinner than a dollar bill and no wider than a postage stamp. The flexible skin-like monitor, worn under an adhesive bandage on the wrist, is sensitive enough to help doctors detect stiff arteries and cardiovascular problems. The devices could one day be used to continuously track heart health and provide doctors a safer method of measuring a key vital sign for newborn and other high-risk surgery patients. "The pulse is related to the condition of the artery and the condition of the heart," said Bao, whose lab develops artificial skin-like materials. "The better the sensor, the better doctors can catch problems before they develop."



Nanobiotechnology Seminar Series
May 16, 2013, 5:30 pm - 6:30 pm
Munzer Auditorium, Stanford, CA
"Rolling in the Deep: Tumor Cell Adhesion and Treatment in the Bloodstream"
Speaker: Michael King, PhD, Cornell University
Neurology and Neurosciences
May 20, 2013, 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Clark Center Auditorium, Stanford, CA
FRONTIERS IN AGING - "Hormonal Regulation of Longevity"
Speaker: Adam Antebi, PhD, Baylor College of Medicine
Cardiovascular Institute
May 21, 2013, 12 pm - 1 pm
LKSC Paul Berg Hall, Stanford, CA
"Cardiovascular Stem Cells: Found in Translation"
Speaker: Philip Yang, Associate Professor of Medicine - Cardiovascular Medicine
Developmental Biology
May 22, 2013, 4 pm - 5 pm
Clark Center Auditorium, Stanford, CA
"Fossils, genes, and the evolution of limbs"
Speaker: Neil Shubin, Univ of Chicago



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 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: 
May 15, 2013