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Welcome to the biweekly electronic newsletter from Stanford Bio-X for members of the Bio-X Corporate Forum. The following are key links to the history of Bio-X and the Clark Center (hub of Bio-X): Bio-X Timeline, CLARK CENTER @ 10X, and President John Hennessy's article calling Bio-X and the Clark Center "A Cauldron of Innovation".
Please contact Dr. Hanwei Li, the Bio-X Corporate Forum Liaison 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.

Bio-X Core Programs

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. Currently, the IIP is in its 7th round, and awards approximately $4 million every other year in the form of two-year grants averaging about $200,000 each. The first 6 rounds have resulted in a 10-fold-plus return on investment, hundreds of publications, dozens of patents filed, and most importantly, the acceleration of scientific discovery and innovation. In total, Bio-X has awarded 164 IIP Seed Grants, with the 22 newest ones selected just last year from 142 Letters of Intent (LOIs).

The Bio-X Fellowships started in 2004, and are awarded every year to graduate students and postdoctoral scholars of Bio-X affiliated faculty whose projects are interdisciplinary and utilize the technologies of different fields to solve different biological questions. 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 198 Fellows. We announced the 25 new winners of the 2015 PhD Fellowship program during the Fellows Symposium on Oct 6, 2015. Click here to view the 198 Fellowship projects, and here for the oral presentations from previous symposiums.

The Bio-X Undergraduate Summer Research Program (USRP) trains ambitious and stellar undergraduates by supporting 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, 371 awards have been given to the Stanford undergraduate community in the past 11 years. The 2015 USRP had 65 students selected from nearly 170 applicants, and the program culminated in the poster presentation of the latest Bio-X IIP Seed Grant Symposium in August. Click here to read the various USRP projects, and here for Faculty Talks by participating hosting faculty members each summer.

SYMPOSIUMS: Bio-X also holds symposiums every year that highlight our core programs, including the IIP Seed Grants Program Symposiums, the Fellows Symposiums, and the Annual Symposiums.

COLLABORATIONS: We are cultivating and are highly successful in building meaningful collaborations with numerous corporate colleagues. New collaborations through our core programs are highly encouraged. To learn about how to get involved, please contact Dr. Hanwei Li, or Dr. Heideh Fattaey.


Nine professors elected fellows of AAAS

Nine Stanford faculty members — eight from the School of Medicine and one from the School of Humanities and Sciences — have been named fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. AAAS members are elected as fellows by their peers for meritorious efforts to advance science or its applications. The fellows include Karlene Cimprich, Gerald Crabtree, Stephen Galli, John Huguenard, Steven Kahn, Calvin Kuo, Beverly Mitchell, Hugh O'Brodovich, and Thomas Rando.


New class of RNA tumor suppressors identified
Bio-X Affiliated Faculty Paul Khavari

A pair of RNA molecules originally thought to be no more than cellular housekeepers are deleted in over a quarter of common human cancers, according to researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine. Breast cancer patients whose tumors lack the RNA molecules have poorer survival rates than their peers. The RNA molecules directly associate with and inhibit a well-known, cancer associated protein called KRAS, the researchers found. In their absence, KRAS becomes hyperactive and issues continued signals to the cell to divide. “This is the first time an RNA molecule in this class has been shown to act as a powerful tumor suppressor,” said Paul Khavari, MD, PhD, professor and chair of dermatology at Stanford. “It does so by inhibiting the function of one of the most powerful cancer-causing proteins in the cell.” Khavari is the senior author of the study, published online Nov. 23 in Nature Genetics. The lead author is Zurab Siprashvilli, PhD, a senior scientist at Stanford.


Ancient viral molecules essential for human development
Bio-X Affiliated Faculty Vittorio Sebastiano

Genetic material from ancient viral infections is critical to human development, according to researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine. They’ve identified several noncoding RNA molecules of viral origins that are necessary for a fertilized human egg to acquire the ability in early development to become all the cells and tissues of the body. Blocking the production of this RNA molecule stops development in its tracks, they found. The discovery comes on the heels of a Stanford study earlier this year showing that early human embryos are packed full of what appear to be viral particles arising from similar left-behind genetic material. “We’re starting to accumulate evidence that these viral sequences, which originally may have threatened the survival of our species, were co-opted by our genomes for their own benefit,” said Vittorio Sebastiano, PhD, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology. “In this manner, they may even have contributed species-specific characteristics and fundamental cell processes, even in humans.”


Insulin-sensitizing drug relieves symptoms of chronic depression in some people
Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Faculty Member Natalie Rasgon

A drug that makes the body more sensitive to insulin helped to relieve symptoms of chronic depression in people resistant to the hormone, according to a study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine. The 12-week, randomized, placebo-controlled study, published Nov. 18 in Psychiatry Research, involved patients whose symptoms of depression had failed to improve substantially, despite treatment, for at least six months leading up to the study’s onset. “This is the first placebo-controlled study to show the antidepressant benefits of treating unremittingly depressed patients with an insulin-sensitizing drug,” said the study’s senior author, Natalie Rasgon, MD, PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences. “The study is important,” Rasgon said, “because it bears out a hypothesis we first advanced over a decade ago about the connection between insulin resistance — the body’s inability to efficiently process glucose, even with adequate insulin production in the pancreas — and mood disorders.”


Tough enough: Stanford and IBM test the limit of toughness in nanocomposites
Bio-X Affiliated Faculty Reinhold Dauskardt

In the future, the wings of jets could be as light as balsa wood, yet stronger than the toughest metal alloys. That's the promise of nanocomposite materials. Nanocomposites are a true example of nanotechnology. They are a special class of materials made from components smaller than one-thousandth of the thickness of a human hair. Controlling these nanometer-sized components offers countless possibilities for developing materials with unique properties. Nanocomposites can be made flexible and strong, or resistant to heat and chemicals. Nanocomposite materials are designed to exhibit physical properties that greatly exceed the capabilities of the sum of their constituent parts. Researchers at Stanford and IBM have tested the upper boundaries of mechanical toughness in a class of lightweight nanocomposites toughened by individual molecules, and offered a new model for how they get their toughness. The potential applications for nanocomposites cut across many industries, from computer circuitry to transportation to athletics. They could even revolutionize spaceflight with their ability to withstand tension and extreme temperatures. The study was published Nov. 16 in the journal Nature Materials by an engineering team led by Reinhold Dauskardt, a professor of materials science and engineering at Stanford, and Geraud Dubois, of IBM's Almaden Research Center. The study was sponsored by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.


Stanford designs underwater solar cells that turn captured greenhouse gases into fuel
Bio-X Affiliated Faculty Paul McIntyre

Stanford engineers have developed solar cells that can function under water. Instead of pumping electricity into the grid, though, the power these cells produce would be used to spur chemical reactions to convert captured greenhouse gases into fuel. This new work, published in Nature Materials, was led by Stanford materials scientist Paul McIntyre, whose lab has been a pioneer in an emerging field known as artificial photosynthesis. In plants, photosynthesis uses the sun's energy to combine water and carbon dioxide to create sugar, the fuel on which they live. Artificial photosynthesis would use the energy from specialized solar cells to combine water with captured carbon dioxide to produce industrial fuels, such as natural gas. Until now, artificial photosynthesis has faced two challenges: ordinary silicon solar cells corrode under water, and even corrosion-proof solar cells had been unable to capture enough sunlight under water to drive the envisioned chemical reactions.


December 1, 2015, 12:15 pm - 1 pm
Clark Center S361, Stanford, CA
Bio-X Frontiers in Interdisciplinary Biosciences Pre-Seminar for December 3 Seminar by Dr. Susan Marqusee
Speaker: Pehr Harbury, Stanford
December 3, 2015, 12:15 pm - 1 pm
Clark Center S360, Stanford, CA
Bio-X Frontiers in Interdisciplinary Biosciences Seminar - "Touring the Protein Folding Landscape: the View Depends on How and Where You Look"
Speaker: Susan Marqusee, UC Berkeley


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, or Dr. Heideh Fattaey, the Executive Director of Bio-X Operations and Programs, at 650-799-1608 or

Release Date: 
November 30, 2015