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
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 are now posted online here. Previously recorded talks are 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.
A leap forward in brain-controlled computer cursors
Bio-X Affiliated Faculty Krishna Shenoy
When a paralyzed person imagines moving a limb, cells in the part of the brain that controls movement still activate as if trying to make the immobile limb work again. Despite neurological injury or disease that has severed the pathway between brain and muscle, the region where the signals originate remains intact and functional. In recent years, neuroscientists and neuroengineers working in prosthetics have begun to develop brain-implantable sensors that can measure signals from individual neurons, and after passing those signals through a mathematical decode algorithm, can use them to control computer cursors with thoughts. The work is part of a field known as neural prosthetics. A team of Stanford researchers have now developed an algorithm, known as ReFIT, that vastly improves the speed and accuracy of neural prosthetics that control computer cursors. The results are to be published November 18 in the journal Nature Neuroscience in a paper by Krishna Shenoy, a professor of electrical engineering, bioengineering and neurobiology at Stanford, and a team led by research associate Dr. Vikash Gilja and bioengineering doctoral candidate Paul Nuyujukian.
Nolan wins funds to 'map' lineages in ovarian cancer cells
Bio-X Affiliated Faculty Garry Nolan
Garry Nolan, PhD, professor of microbiology and immunology, is the first recipient of the Ovarian Cancer Research Program's Teal Innovator Award. The $3.2 million, five-year award, which is administered by the Department of Defense, is intended to advance the understanding and treatment of ovarian cancer. The OCRP is one of several Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs that have arisen since the early 1990s. The programs represent a partnership among the DOD, Congress and the public to fund research into specific diseases or medical conditions. More than 90 research programs have been funded so far, focusing on topics as diverse as Gulf War illness, multiple sclerosis, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, spinal cord injuries and many others. Nolan's work focuses on the use of an innovative variation on a common cell-sorting technique called flow cytometry. He has devised a way — which he terms single-cell mass cytometry — to measure dozens of biological parameters, including cell size, DNA content and viability, in individual human cells. He plans to use mass cytometry to identify family trees and lineage relationships among tumor cells in individual patients. The knowledge may one day be used to personalize ovarian cancer treatments.
Optogenetics illuminates pathways of motivation through brain, study shows
Bio-X Affiliated Faculty Karl Deisseroth
Whether you are an apple tree or an antelope, survival depends on using your energy efficiently. In a difficult or dangerous situation, the key question is whether exerting effort — sending out roots in search of nutrients in a drought or running at top speed from a predator — will be worth the energy. In a paper published online Nov. 18 in Nature, Karl Deisseroth, MD, PhD, a professor of bioengineering and of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University, and postdoctoral scholar Melissa Warden, PhD, describe how they have isolated the neurons that carry these split-second decisions to act from the higher brain to the brain stem. In doing so, they have provided insight into the causes of severe brain disorders such as depression. In organisms as complex as humans, the neural mechanisms that help answer the question, “Is it worth my effort?” can fail, leading to debilitating mental illnesses. Major depressive disorder, for instance, which affects nearly 20 percent of people at some point in life, is correlated with underperformance in the parts of the brain involved in motivation. ... Connecting depressive symptoms with brain pathways may be helpful in the development of drugs, but according to Deisseroth, the most important part of this research is its insight into how motivation works in both depressed and healthy people. He has observed that this insight alone can be helpful to those dealing with mental illness and seeking an explanation for troubling symptoms that feel deeply personal. For those patients, he said, simply knowing that a biological reality underlies their experience can be a motivational force in itself.
Minority report: Stanford/Yale study gives insight into subtle genomic differences among our own cells
Bio-X Affiliated Faculty Alexander Urban
Stanford University School of Medicine scientists have demonstrated, in a study conducted jointly with researchers at Yale University, that induced-pluripotent stem cells — the embryonic-stem-cell lookalikes whose discovery a few years ago won this year’s Nobel Prize in medicine — are not as genetically unstable as was thought. The new study, published online Nov. 18 in Nature, showed that what seemed to be changes in iPS cells’ genetic makeup — presumed to be inflicted either in the course of their generation from adult cells or during their propagation and maintenance in laboratory culture dishes — instead are often accurate reflections of existing but previously undetected genetic variations among the cells comprising our bodies. That’s good news for researchers hoping to use the cells to study disease or, someday, for regenerative medicine. But it raises the question of whether and to what extent we humans are really walking mosaics whose constituent cells differ genetically from one to the next in possibly significant respects, said Alexander Urban, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences. Urban shared senior authorship of the study with bioinformatics professor Mark Gerstein, PhD, and neurobiology professor Flora Vaccarino, MD, both of Yale.
Body may be able to 'coach' transplanted stem cells to differentiate appropriately, study shows
Bio-X Affiliated Faculty Michael Longaker
Pluripotent stem cells are nature’s double-edged sword. Because they can develop into a dizzying variety of cell types and tissues, they are a potentially invaluable therapeutic resource. However, that same developmental flexibility can lead to dangerous tumors called teratomas if the stem cells begin to differentiate out of control in the body. To prevent this outcome, researchers must first give the cells a not-so-subtle shove toward their final developmental fate before transplanting them into laboratory animals or humans. But exactly how to do so can vary widely among laboratories. Now researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have used an experiment in mice to hit upon a way to possibly skip this fiddly step by instead relying mostly on signals within the body to keep the stem cells in line. “Before we can use these cells, we have to differentiate, or ‘coach,’ them down a specific developmental pathway,” said Michael Longaker, MD, the Deane P. and Louise Mitchell Professor in the School of Medicine. “But there’s always a question as to exactly how to do that, and how many developmental doors we have to close before we can use the cells. In this study, we found that, with appropriate environmental cues, we could let the body do the work.” Allowing the body to direct differentiation could speed the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval of using such pluripotent stem cells, Longaker believes, by eliminating the extended periods of laboratory manipulation required during the forced differentiation of the cells. Longaker, who co-directs Stanford’s Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, is the senior author of the research, published online Nov. 19 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Glycine plays key link in a deadly staph bacteria, Stanford researchers discover
Bio-X Affiliated Faculty Lynette Cegelski
Chemistry graduate student Xiaoxue Zhou had carried out an experiment to find out how antibiotics affect cell wall structure in Staphylococcus aureus, a bacterium responsible for a slew of ailments from food poisoning to boils and abscesses. As she sifted through the data, she uncovered a peculiar result that could ultimately change how bacterial infections are treated. The study in Biochemistry shows that the Achilles' heel of these germs may be the nutrient glycine, which keeps intact the cell walls of the staph bacteria that cause acne in teenagers and sneak up on elderly hospital patients. "This started very serendipitously," said Lynette S. Cegelski, an assistant professor of chemistry.
|Microbiology and Immunology
November 28, 2012, 12 pm - 1 pm
Munzer Auditorium, Stanford, CA
Genomic and proteomic approaches for the study of infectious diseases
Speaker: Joe DeRisi, PhD, UCSF
November 28, 2012, 4 pm - 5 pm
Clark Center Auditorium, Stanford, CA
Frontiers in Biology - "Investigating human cancers with single-cell genomics"
Speaker: Nicholas E. Navin, PhD, MD Anderson Cancer Center
December 4, 2012, 12 pm - 1 pm
Munzer Auditorium, Stanford, CA
The many flavors of resistance to anti-cancer drugs
Speaker: Jeff Settleman, PhD, Genentech
December 6, 2012, 4:30 pm - 5:30 pm
Clark Center Auditorium, Stanford, CA
Order and Disorder: A Variety of Circuit Motifs in Olfaction
Speaker: Larry Abbott, PhD, Columbia University
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
|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 email@example.com, or Dr. Heideh Fattaey, the Executive Director of Bio-X Operations and Programs, at 650-799-1608 or firstname.lastname@example.org.