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 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.

** THE LIST OF 23 NEW AWARDEES FOR OUR 6TH ROUND OF SEED GRANTS ARE NOW LISTED ON THE BIO-X WEBSITE. 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.

** On Monday, August 27, 2012, Bio-X held one of its 2 annual IIP Seed Grant symposiums at the Clark Center Auditorium, which showcases some of the awarded seed grant projects. The symposium was a success with 8 podium presentations, 154 poster presentations, and over 200 attendants. The recorded talks will be posted online soon. To view the 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.

** On Thursday June 21, 2012, our 18 newest Bio-X Fellowship awardees were announced at the BIO-X FELLOWS SYMPOSIUM. The symposium also consisted of four 15-minute presentations and thirty-five 1-minute research introductions that truly demonstrated the synergy of different yet distinctive disciplines, merged together to address various life bioscience questions. To date, we now have a total of 126 Bio-X Fellows. To view the numerous projects that have been awarded over the years, please click here.

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.



Researchers develop light-based 'remote control' for proteins inside cells
Bio-X Affiliated Faculty Michael Lin

Scientists at Stanford University have developed an intracellular remote control: a simple way to activate and track proteins, the busiest of cellular machines, using beams of light. The new method, described in a paper published Nov. 9 in Science, will let researchers shine light on a specific cell region to quickly activate a protein in that area, producing an unusually fine-grained view of the location and timing of protein activity. In addition, the method may eventually enable physicians to direct the movement and activity of stem cells used to treat injury or illness in light-accessible body parts, such as the eye or skin. Stanford has filed a patent application for the work. The method involves splicing two pieces of a specific fluorescent protein to other proteins of interest. The resulting hybrids — called fluorescent, light-inducible proteins, or FLIPs — have two interesting features: Not only are they turned on by light, but they also glow less brightly when activated, a change that provides an easy way to sense protein activity. ... “For science geeks, this is very interesting in that it converges two exciting fields: biological sensing, which has been dominated by fluorescent proteins, and optogenetics, the use of light to investigate biology,” [Michael] Lin [an assistant professor of pediatrics and of bioengineering and the senior author of the paper] said.

Scientists stop rats' stroke-induced seizures with pulse of light
Bio-X Affiliated Faculty John Huguenard

Stanford University School of Medicine scientists have shown that a structure deep within the brain is a crucial component of recurring seizures that can arise as a delayed consequence of a cerebral stroke. This structure, called the thalamus, is known as a relay station routing inputs from the senses to the brain’s higher cognitive processing centers in the cerebral cortex. But the thalamus has never before been implicated in post-stroke seizures. In a study published online Nov. 7 in Nature Neuroscience, the investigators proved that the thalamocortical tract — a nerve bundle that among other things conveys sensory information from the thalamus to many parts of the more-expansive cerebral cortex, the outermost layer of the mammalian brain — is intimately involved in post-cerebral-stroke seizures. ... “If we prevent the thalamus from participating in the seizure, we actually block the seizure — instantly,” said John Huguenard, PhD, professor of neurology and neurological sciences and of molecular and cellular physiology. Huguenard is the senior author of the study. In 2011, he and his colleagues published a study, also in Nature Neuroscience, implicating the thalamus in absence, or petit mal, epilepsy, the most common form of epilepsy among children. Strokes, on the other hand, are much more likely to afflict older people.

Prakash wins Gates grant for paper microscope development
Bio-X Affiliated Faculty Manu Prakash

Manu Prakash, PhD, assistant professor of bioengineering, has received a grant from the Grand Challenges Explorations, an initiative of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. GCE is designed to promote exploration of bold and innovative ways to improve global health. The $100,000 award announced Nov. 1 will allow Prakash and his team to field test an ultra-low-cost paper microscope to aid disease diagnosis in developing regions. Prakash's lightweight, print-and-fold microscope — or "Foldscope" as he calls it — can be shipped flat and assembled in minutes. The team will test the microscope in India, Thailand and Uganda, and will assimilate user feedback to help refine the design for mass production. If the pilot is successful, Prakash will have the opportunity to apply for a follow-on grant of up to $1 million.

Touch-sensitive plastic skin heals itself
Bio-X Affiliated Faculty Zhenan Bao

Nobody knows the remarkable properties of human skin like the researchers struggling to emulate it. Not only is our skin sensitive, sending the brain precise information about pressure and temperature, but it also heals efficiently to preserve a protective barrier against the world. Combining these two features in a single synthetic material presented an exciting challenge for Stanford Chemical Engineering Professor Zhenan Bao and her team. Now, they have succeeded in making the first material that can both sense subtle pressure and heal itself when torn or cut. Their findings will be published on November 11 in the journal Nature Nanotechnology. ... The researchers succeeded by combining two ingredients to get what Bao calls “the best of both worlds” – the self-healing ability of a plastic polymer and the conductivity of a metal.

Mice with 'humanized' livers improve early drug testing, scientist show
Bio-X Affiliated Faculty Gary Peltz

Stanford University School of Medicine scientists have used bioengineered mice with livers composed largely of human cells to characterize a drug about to enter early-stage clinical development for combating hepatitis C. Tests using the new mouse model accurately predicted significant aspects of the drug’s behavior in humans — including its interaction with another drug and the profile of its major breakdown products in the body (called metabolites) — far more accurately than would have been achieved using current methods. The study was published online Oct. 31 in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. Its findings hold potentially huge implications for drug development in general, because key aspects of the tested drug’s activity and properties would likely have gone unnoticed using the kind of mouse study that is the current standard for preclinical tests of candidate drugs. Importantly, the results strongly hint that the drug, clemizole, could be both safe and an effective drug-cocktail component in humans infected with HCV, the virus that causes hepatitis C. “This gives us a new tool for improving the testing of drugs before they are given to people in clinical trials,” said the study’s senior author, Gary Peltz, MD, PhD, professor of anesthesiology, pain and perioperative medicine.

Findings from international genomics project describe variations among ethnic group, says scientist
Bio-X Affiliated Faculty Carlos Bustamante

Genetics, for many people, often boils down to a few simple questions. Do I have the gene sequence responsible for my mother’s cancer? Will I be as tall as my uncle? Will my children have fair hair, or dark? Will they have dimples? Who in my family might develop asthma or diabetes? Unfortunately, there are few clear-cut answers, particularly in ethnic groups or populations whose genomes have not been well-studied. This is a particular problem when trying to translate genomic information into clinical applications and medical recommendations. Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine and around the world are still working to understand which variations among the billions of nucleotides in our DNA are functionally important, and which are merely the result of the genetic noise inherent in the messy process of human reproduction. Now, the international 1,000 Genomes Project has catalogued more than 38 million single-nucleotide variations, called SNPs, and several million other genetic changes in over 1,000 people from 14 populations in four main geographic regions: Europe, Africa, East Asia and the Americas. The results were published Oct. 31 in Nature. “Studies like these will directly benefit some of our most medically underserved populations, while also helping all of us by increasing our knowledge of naturally occurring genetic variation,” said Carlos Bustamante, PhD, a professor of genetics at Stanford. “There’s a real need for these types of tools and resources.”



November 13, 2012, 12 pm - 1 pm
Munzer Auditorium, Beckman Center, Stanford, CA
Epigenetic reprogramming in a pancreatic cancer progression
Speaker: Nabeel Bardeesy, PhD, Harvard Medical School
Developmental Biology
November 14, 2012, 4 pm - 5 pm
Clark Center Auditorium, Stanford, CA
Frontiers in Biology - "Diversity and spread of RNA viruses: mechanisms and control"
Speaker: Karla Kirkegaard, PhD, Stanford University
Neurology & Neurosciences
November 19, 2012, 4 pm - 5 pm
Clark Center Auditorium, Stanford, CA
FRONTIERS IN AGING: "Cellular Metabolism, Aging, and Disease"
Speaker: Danica Chen, PhD, UC Berkeley
Chemical and Systems Biology
November 19, 2012, 4 pm - 5:30 pm
Braun Auditorium, Chemistry Building, Stanford, CA
Winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine - "Switches and Latches: The Control of Mitosis"
Speaker: Sir Tim Hunt, PhD
MI Seminar
Some Wednesdays 10 am, Oct 2012 - May 2013

An exciting program in medical imaging research

Dec 5 - LKS 130 - Geoffrey Kerchner, M.D. - Hippocampal Microstructure in Cognitive Impairment: Insights from 7-Tesla MRI

Jan - Dan Spielman - Metabolic Imaging of the Heart using Hyperpolarized 13C MRS

Feb 20 - Jennifer McNab - Initial Applications of 300 mT/m Gradients

April 17 - Edward Shapiro - The History of CT Reseach at Varian- from the mid-70s' to today

May 22 - Anthony Wagner - Cognitive Neuroscience of Remembering: fMRI approaches to Understanding Memory



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 12, 2012