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.

Bio-X Executive Director wins the 2011 Marshall D. O'Neill Award

Dr. Heideh Fattaey, Executive Director of Bio-X Operations and Programs, will be recognized for her extraordinary contributions to Stanford's research mission

Awarded annually, the Marshall D. O'Neill award is given to outstanding University staff who are nominated and recognized by peers and colleagues. Dr. Fattaey is known as "the soul of Bio-X". "'Her scientific background and experience have ensured that the central programs at the heart of Bio-X run smoothly and are great successes ...' 'She has also worked on new ways to augment the funding of the Bio-X IIP Seed grants to faculty, making more such grants available at this challenging funding time and engaging more extensive and productive interactions with industry.'" To read more about Dr. Fattaey and the award, please click here.


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 113 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.

In the spring of 2012, we will have a 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 February 13, 2012.

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.



Stanford team trains computers to evaluate breast cancers
2010 Seed Grant funded project from Bio-X affiliated faculty Daphne Koller and Matt Van de Rijn
In a paper to be published Nov. 9 in Science Translational Medicine, computer scientists at the Stanford School of Engineering and pathologists at the Stanford School of Medicine have collaborated to train computers to analyze breast cancer microscopic images. The computer analyses were more accurate than those conducted by humans. Their model is called Computational Pathologist, or C-Path, a machine-learning-based method for automatically analyzing images of cancerous tissues and predicting patient survival. To train C-Path, the researchers used existing tissue samples taken from patients whose prognosis was known. The computers pored over images, measuring various tumor structures and trying to use those structures to predict patient survival. By comparing results against the known data, the computers adapted their models to better predict survival and gradually figured out what features of the cancers matter most and which matter less in predicting survival.

Continuous dose of nitroglycerin increases severity of heart attacks, study shows
Bio-X affiliated faculty Daria Mochly-Rosen
When given for hours as a continuous dose, the heart medication nitroglycerin backfires — increasing the severity of subsequent heart attacks, according to a study of the compound in rats by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine. “Basically it’s a cautionary tale,” said professor of chemical and systems biology Daria Mochly-Rosen, PhD, senior author of the study published Nov. 2 in Science Translational Medicine. “Here is a practice in medicine used for over 100 years. Nitroglycerin is so old that a proper clinical trial has never been formally done. Our study says it’s time for cardiologists to examine the value of nitroglycerin treatment that extends for hours at a time.” The study also showed that the damage can be reduced by simultaneous treatment with an enzyme activator known as Alda-1, discovered by Mochly-Rosen and collaborators and reported in Science in 2008.

Osteoarthritis results from inflammatory process, not just wear and tear, study suggests
Bio-X affiliated faculty William Robinson
In a study published online Nov. 6 in Nature Medicine, investigators at the Stanford University School of Medicine have shown that the development of osteoarthritis is in great part driven by low-grade inflammatory processes. This is at odds with the prevailing view attributing the condition to a lifetime of wear and tear on long-suffering joints. “It’s a paradigm change,” said William Robinson, MD, PhD, the study’s senior author, of the implication of the findings. “People in the field predominantly view osteoarthritis as a matter of simple wear and tear, like tires gradually wearing out on a car.” It also is commonly associated with blow-outs, he added, such as a tear in the meniscus — a cartilage-rich, crescent-shaped pad that serves as a shock-absorber in joints — or some other traumatic damage to a joint. But Robinson’s paper suggests a different way of understanding the disease. Its findings offer hope that by targeting the inflammatory processes that occur early on in the development of osteoarthritis — well before it progresses to the point where symptoms appear — the condition might someday be preventable.

Growing skin: tissue expansion in pediatric forehead reconstruction
Publication in Biomech Model Mechanobiol by Bio-X affiliated faculty Ellen Kuhl
Tissue expansion is a common surgical procedure to grow extra skin through controlled mechanical over-stretch. It creates skin that matches the color, texture, and thickness of the surrounding tissue, while minimizing scars and risk of rejection. Despite intense research in tissue expansion and skin growth, there is a clear knowledge gap between heuristic observation and mechanistic understanding of the key phenomena that drive the growth process. Here, we show that a continuum mechanics approach, embedded in a custom-designed finite element model, informed by medical imaging, provides valuable insight into the biomechanics of skin growth. In particular, we model skin growth using the concept of an incompatible growth configuration. We characterize its evolution in time using a second-order growth tensor parameterized in terms of a scalar-valued internal variable, the in-plane area growth. When stretched beyond the physiological level, new skin is created, and the in-plane area growth increases. For the first time, we simulate tissue expansion on a patient-specific geometric model, and predict stress, strain, and area gain at three expanded locations in a pediatric skull: in the scalp, in the forehead, and in the cheek. Our results may help the surgeon to prevent tissue over-stretch and make informed decisions about expander geometry, size, placement, and inflation. We anticipate our study to open new avenues in reconstructive surgery and enhance treatment for patients with birth defects, burn injuries, or breast tumor removal.

Notch Signaling is Necessary to Maintain Quiescence in Adult Muscle Stem Cells
Publication in Stem Cells (doi: 10.1002/stem.773) by Bio-X affiliated faculty Thomas Rando
Satellite cells (SCs) are myogenic stem cells found in skeletal muscle that function to repair tissue damaged by injury or disease. SCs are quiescent at rest, although the signaling pathways required to maintain quiescence are unknown. Using a transgenic Notch reporter mouse and quantitative RT-PCR analysis of Notch target genes, we determined that Notch signaling is active in quiescent SCs. SC-specific deletion of RBP-J(kappa), a nuclear factor required for Notch signaling, resulted in the depletion of the SC pool and muscles that lacked any ability to regenerate in response to injury. SC depletion was not due to apoptosis. Rather, RBP-J(kappa)-deficient SCs spontaneously activate, fail to self-renew, and undergo terminal differentiation. Intriguingly, most of the cells differentiate without first dividing. They then fuse with adjacent myofibers, leading to the gradual disappearance of SCs from the muscle. These results demonstrate the requirement of Notch signaling for the maintenance of the quiescent state and for muscle stem cell homeostasis by the regulation of self-renewal and differentiation, processes that are all critical for normal postnatal myogenesis.



November 15, 2011, 12-1 pm
Alway Bldg, Rm M-106, Stanford, CA
"Problems of prognostication in soft tissue tumors"
Speaker: Christopher D.M. Fletcher, MD, FRCPATH, Professor of Harvard Medical School
Nanobiotechnology Seminar Series
November 15, 2011, 4:30-5:30 pm
Clark Auditorium, Stanford, CA
"Emergent Nanomedicine Drug Delivery and Imaging Technologies"
Speaker: Greg Lanza, MD, PhD, Professor of Washington University
Bio-X Frontiers in Interdisciplinary Biosciences
November 17, 2011, 3:15-4:15 pm
Clark Center Auditorium, Stanford, CA
"Thermodynamic models of cis-regulation"
Speaker: Barak Cohen, PhD, Professor of Washington University
November 21, 2011, 11 am-12 pm
Li Ka Shing Center 120, Stanford, CA
"Switching human T cell responses on and off in vivo using T cell epitopes"
Speaker: Mark Larche, PhD, Professor of McMaster University



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: 
November 11, 2011