Welcome to the biweekly electronic newsletter from Stanford Bio-X for members of the Bio-X Corporate Forum. 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.


** On October 9, 2013, Bio-X celebrated the 10th Anniversary of the James H. Clark Center, the hub of Bio-X. Check out CLARK CENTER @ 10X as well as the Bio-X Timeline over the last 15 years!!

** Check out the article by Stanford President John Hennessy in the Nov/Dec 2013 issue of the Stanford Magazine on Bio-X and the Clark Center, "A Cauldron of Innovation".

Seed Grants

**UPDATE: BIO-X HAS JUST ANNOUNCED ITS 22 NEWLY AWARDED IIP SEED GRANT PROJECTS OF ROUND 7!! Click on the link to check out the project descriptions and read on to learn more about this round!

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 5 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.

This year is the 7th round of the Bio-X IIP Seed Grants Program, and Bio-X has just announced it's 22 newly awarded projects selected from 142 Letters of Intent (LOIs)! This has been the largest number of LOIs that Bio-X has received. Please go here to check out the newly awarded projects. Competition was intense, and the selection criteria included innovation, high-reward, and new interdisciplinary collaborations. (To view the 142 other IIP projects that have been funded from the previous 6 rounds, please click 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.

**On August 27, 2014, over 300 people attended Bio-X's latest Interdisciplinary Initiatives Seed Grants Program Symposium. There were 8 different oral presentations from faculty members who were awarded Bio-X Seed Grants on the progress that they have made with the funding towards their projects. In addition, Bio-X had its largest poster session ever with 167 posters presented during the reception of the symposium! If you'd like to learn more about any of the projects that were presented during the entire symposium, please contact Dr. Hanwei Li with your questions.



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, with the 19 new awardees of 2014, Stanford Bio-X has a total of 173 Fellows.

You can view the numerous Fellowship projects that have been awarded over the years as well as oral presentations from previous symposiums 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. This program is eligible to Stanford students who want to work in the labs of Bio-X affiliated faculty.

To date, with 65 new awardees from 154 applications submitted this year, 306 students have been awarded the opportunity to participate in the Bio-X Undergraduate Summer Research Program.

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.


Study finds brain abnormalities in chronic fatigue patients
Bio-X Affiliated Faculty Michael Zeineh and Medicine Faculty Jose Montoya

An imaging study by Stanford University School of Medicine investigators has found distinct differences between the brains of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome and those of healthy people. The findings could lead to more definitive diagnoses of the syndrome and may also point to an underlying mechanism in the disease process. It’s not uncommon for CFS patients to face several mischaracterizations of their condition, or even suspicions of hypochondria, before receiving a diagnosis of CFS. The abnormalities identified in the study, published Oct. 29 in Radiology, may help to resolve those ambiguities, said lead author Michael Zeineh, MD, PhD, assistant professor of radiology. “Using a trio of sophisticated imaging methodologies, we found that CFS patients’ brains diverge from those of healthy subjects in at least three distinct ways,” Zeineh said. CFS affects between 1 million and 4 million individuals in the United States and millions more worldwide. Coming up with a more precise number of cases is tough because it’s difficult to actually diagnose the disease. While all CFS patients share a common symptom — crushing, unremitting fatigue that persists for six months or longer — the additional symptoms can vary from one patient to the next, and they often overlap with those of other conditions.

Stem cells' rapid response due to short-lived RNA messages
Bio-X Affiliated Faculty Howard Chang

Many stem cells live a life of monotony, biding their time until they’re needed to repair tissue damage or propel the growth of a developing embryo. But when the time is right, they must spring into action without hesitation. Like Clark Kent in a phone booth, they fling aside their former identity to become skin, muscle, bone or other cell types. Now researchers at Stanford, Harvard and UCLA have learned that embryonic stem cells in mice and humans chemically tag RNA messages encoding key stem-cell genes. The tags tell the cell not to let the messages linger — to degrade them quickly. Getting rid of those messages allows the cells to respond more nimbly to their new marching orders. “Until now, we’ve not fully understood how RNA messages within the cell dissipate,” said Howard Chang, MD, PhD, professor of dermatology at the Stanford School of Medicine. “In many cases, it was thought to be somewhat random. This research shows that embryonic stem cells actively tag RNA messages that they may later need to forget. In the absence of this mechanism, the stem cells are never able to forget they are stem cells. They are stuck and cannot become brain, heart or gut, for example.” Chang, who is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute scientist and a member of the Stanford Cancer Institute, is a co-senior author of a paper describing the research, which was published on Oct. 16 in Cell Stem Cell. He shares senior authorship with Yi Xing, PhD, associate professor of microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics at UCLA, and Cosmas Giallourakis, MD, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard. Lead authorship is shared by postdoctoral scholars Pedro Batista, PhD, of Stanford, and Jinkai Wang, PhD, of UCLA; and by senior research fellow Benoit Molinie, PhD, of Harvard.

Girls under stress age more rapidly, new Stanford study reveals
Bio-X Affiliated Faculty Ian Gotlib

Stress takes a toll on both mind and body. Intuitively, that's not a big surprise. Many studies have found links among stress, depression and disease. But scientists didn't really know which came first: stress, depression or changes in the body. Stanford psychologist Ian Gotlib and colleagues at Stanford, Northwestern University and the University of California, San Francisco found one way to address this question. They studied healthy girls at high risk for developing depression because they have a family history of the disorder. These girls were stressed out, and they responded to stress by releasing much higher levels of the hormone cortisol. The girls also had telomeres that were shorter by the equivalent of six years in adults. Telomeres are caps on the ends of chromosomes. Every time a cell divides the telomeres get a little shorter. Telomere length is like a biological clock corresponding to age. Telomeres also shorten as a result of exposure to stress. Scientists have uncovered links in adults between shorter telomeres and premature death, more frequent infections and chronic diseases. Gotlib, the David Starr Jordan Professor and chair of the Department of Psychology, was surprised by the telomere shortening: "I did not think that these girls would have shorter telomeres than their low-risk counterparts – they're too young." So which came first: stress, depression or premature aging? These otherwise healthy girls showed signs of stress and premature aging before any of them were old enough to develop depression.

Antibiotics may help Salmonella spread in infected animals, scientists learn
Microbiology and Immunology Faculty Denise Monack

Some people infected with pathogens spread their germs to others while remaining symptom-free themselves. Now, investigators at the Stanford University School of Medicine believe they may know why. When the scientists gave oral antibiotics to mice infected with Salmonella typhimurium, a bacterial cause of food poisoning, a small minority — so called “superspreaders” that had been shedding high numbers of salmonella in their feces for weeks — remained healthy; they were unaffected by either the disease or the antibiotic. The rest of the mice got sicker instead of better and, oddly, started shedding like superspreaders. The findings point to a reason for superspreaders’ ability to remain asymptomatic. They also pose ominous questions about the widespread, routine use of sub-therapeutic doses of antibiotics in livestock. About 80 percent of all antibiotics used in the United States are given to livestock — mainly cattle, pigs and chickens — because doing so increases the animals’ growth rates. Experts have already voiced concerns about how this practice contributes to the rise of drug-resistant pathogens. But the new study, published online Oct. 20 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, highlights an entirely different concern. “We’ve shown that the immune state of an infected mouse given antibiotics can dictate how sick that mouse gets and also carries implications for disease transmission,” said Denise Monack, PhD, associate professor of microbiology and immunology and the study’s senior author. “If this holds true for livestock as well — and I think it will — it would have obvious public health implications. We need to think about the possibility that we’re not only selecting for antibiotic-resistant microbes, but also impairing the health of our livestock and increasing the spread of contagious pathogens among them and us.”


Nov 3, 2014, 4 pm - 5:30 pm
Clark Center Auditorium, Stanford, CA
"Ants, Plants, and Bacteria: Symbiosis and Evolutionary Diversification"
Speaker: Corrie Moreau, Field Museum of Natural History
Neurology & Neurosciences
Nov 10, 2014, 4 pm - 5 pm
Munzer Auditorium, Stanford, CA
Frontiers in Aging Seminar Series: "Fatal attraction: reproduction, mating, and the regulation of aging"
Speaker: Coleen Murphy, PhD, Princeton

Thursday, November 6, 2014
Clark Center Auditorium

To RSVP, please go here

This Symposium aims to educate students, postdoctoral fellows and established scientists from different disciplines about Mechanobiology by presenting talks on sensory systems, mechanically mediated cellular signaling, and the role of mechanics in homeostasis. Topics include mechanisms, methods and mechanical pathways ranging in temporal and spatial scales from ion channels and protein conformational changes to cell and tissue mechanics in growth, differentiation, disease and regeneration. The Symposium features invited speakers, talks from postdoctoral fellows selected from submitted abstracts, a networking lunch, and poster reception.

Welcome and Introduction

Chemomechanical Markers and Modulators of Stem Cells: Pulling It All Together
Krystyn Van Vliet, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Chromosome Segregation: Mechanical Integrity with Dynamic Parts
Sophie Dumont, University of California, San Francisco

Coffee Break

Postdoctoral Fellows Talks
  • Tural Aksel, Stanford University: An LVNC and a DCM mutation in adjacent positions in primary sequence have completely opposite impact on human cardiac myosin power generation
  • Martin Bringmann, Stanford University: Polarization in the Arabidopsis leaf epidermis is influenced by mechanical stress
  • Morgan Delarue, UC Berkeley: Spatially-constrained cell populations
  • Arnold Hayer, Stanford University: Polarity propagation between cells mediated by polar curvature sensing on invaginated cadherin fingers
  • Carolina Tropini, Stanford University: General principles of bacterial mechanics and cell-size determination revealed by cell wall synthesis perturbations

Lunch - Students may register in advance for lunch with faculty

Touch As a Matter of Fat and Mechanics
Miriam Goodman, Stanford University

A Leaky Pipeline: Matrix Mechanics in Vascular Form and Function
Cindy Reinhart-King, Cornell University

Coffee Break

Mechanical Regulation of Cell Adhesion and Migration
Margaret Gardel, The University of Chicago

Poster Session and Refreshments

Symposium Organizers: Beth Pruitt (ME, MCP by courtesy, Bio-X) and W. James Nelson (Biology, MCP, Bio-X)


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: 
October 29, 2014