Announcing the Winners of a New Collaborative Pilot Award Program

The University of Rochester Medical Center is teaming up with the State University of New York at the University of Buffalo (SUNY UB) on a collaborative genomics project. Both URMC and SUNY UB have strengths in bioinformatics, high performance computing, basic and translational genomics, including NIH funded Clinical and Translational Science Awards.

To accelerate collaboration between our institutions, a URMC-SUNY UB Collaborative Genomics Pilot Award Program has been implemented. The pilot awards will provide one year of seed funding to research teams with dual principle investigators – one from each institution – who are interested in understanding the genetic basis of diseases.

The winning proposals show promise to make rapid progress over the next year and build upon established strengths at both institutions.  The overall goal of this pilot funding is to help researchers obtain further federal or foundation funding and to take advantage of opportunities for regional collaboration across NY state.

Two projects were selected for funding:

The Role of CCR2 Blockade in Patients with Locally Advanced Pancreas Cancer

 

Epigenetics profiling of Exacerbation Susceptibility in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

  • Patricia Sime M.D., professor of Medicine, University of Rochester Medical Center
  • Sanjay Sethi M.D., professor and chief of Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine, University at Buffalo, SUNY

Get More Out of Your CTSI Grant Applications

Junior Investigator Funding Pathways blog image
The CTSI is implementing a new forum this May to help junior investigators become independently funded. In addition, several “funding pathways” will be introduced that set a framework for investigators to revise their scientific proposals for KL2 Mentored Career Development and CTSI Pilot awards into proposals for K or R21 awards from the National Institutes of Health.

The twice monthly Research Methods Forum will focus on multidisciplinary research methods and will offer investigators the opportunity to share research ideas and receive constructive criticism from their peers. The forum is open to investigators of all ranks whether or not they are applying for CTSI funding. However, junior investigators will particularly benefit from the opportunity to interact with potential collaborators and receive thorough feedback on their proposed research early in project development.

Of course, the main goal and benefit of the forum is to help junior investigators obtain funding and progress to independence and the CTSI’s new funding pathways will facilitate this. The pathways guide investigators through a process to repurpose existing CTSI grant proposals for new funding opportunities. Timelines are also included in the pathways to ensure investigators don’t miss important submission deadlines. That means an investigator could submit a KL2 application in November, and use it for the base of a K08 or K23 application in February.

Funding pathways currently exist for both NIH K award-eligible and non-eligible investigators and both pathways encourage submission for NIH awards while the CTSI award applications are still under review. CTSI funding decisions will not be influenced by whether an investigator also applies for a NIH award.

Junior investigators interested in applying for funding through one of these pathways must present their research ideas at the Research Methods Forum at least 2-4 months prior to submitting their KL2 or CTSI Pilot award applications. Watch the CTSI weekly update for reminders about upcoming Forums.

To learn more about CTSI funding opportunities and pathways or the Research Methods Forum, contact researchhelp@urmc.rochester.edu.

Career growth

CTSI Director’s Update February 2016: URMC and UB Create a New Collaborative Genomics Pilot Funding Program

genomicsThe University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) and the SUNY University at Buffalo (UB) released a request for applications last week seeking submissions to a new Collaborative Genomics pilot award program. The goal of this program is to fund projects that will lead to accelerated collaboration between UB and URMC in the area of large-scale, collaborative genomics. In particular, the program is seeking projects that will build on established strengths at both institutions and leverage the collaboration to apply for future NY state opportunities for regional collaborative centers.

This is not the first time that the CTSI has collaborated with the University at Buffalo. UB has been a member of the CTSI’s UNYTE translational research network since its inception in 2006. Also, Tim Murphy, MD, the PI of the Buffalo CTSA, is chair of the CTSI’s External Advisory Committee. When the Buffalo Clinical and Translational Research Center was established in 2015 with a new NCATS Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA), Buffalo and Rochester began conversations about how URMC and UB could build new collaborations in translational science and leverage resources and expertise at each institution. The first step in this direction is the new Collaborative Genomics pilot funding program.

The program is designed to fund projects that will make rapid progress over a 12-month period. Projects must use human tissue, primary cells, or primary human microbiome samples. Proposals with a high chance for funding will address one or more of the following areas:
• Collaborative biobanking that includes pilot genomic data generation and analysis
• Analysis of established and unique patient cohorts with existing and extensive clinical data, phenotype data, and existing locally banked biospecimens
• Predictive genomic analysis, especially projects that have existing outcome measures and actual or potential tissue samples for analysis
• Projects that will utilize high performance computational analysis of the resulting genomic data

If you are interested in learning more about the Collaborative Genomics program, please click here to read the complete RFA. Abstracts and initial application cover sheet and cover letter should be submitted by 5 PM, February 29, 2016 in PDF form via e-mail to Tricia_DiQuattro@urmc.rochester.edu.

2015-16 Faculty Pilot Program Awardee: Emily Carmody, MD

carmody

Emily Carmody, MD

Emily Carmody, MD, Assistant Professor of Orthopaedics and Assistant Professor at the Wilmot Cancer Center will lead a team of investigators through an exciting pilot project over the next year. Dr. Carmody specializes in treating both benign and malignant musculoskeletal tumors in adults and children. She has a particular interest in limb-sparing surgery and endoprosthetic reconstruction for treating bone sarcomas. Dr. Carmody also specializes in metabolic bone disorders including osteoporosis and osteopenia.

Dr. Carmody, along with Michael Zuscik, PhD (Associate Professor of Orthopaedics) and Christopher Ritchlin (Professor of Medicine) on a pilot project entitled “Assessment of Forteo as a Therapeutic to Treat Knee Osteoarthritis.” Traditional treatment strategies for Osteoarthritis are palliative, with the focus on pain management and joint replacement. Development of disease-modifying agents that can rejuvenate cartilage is a great unmet need. Thus, development of an effective treatment for Osteoarthritis is a vital public health initiative with potential for tremendous impact.

Data mined from the NIH-sponsored Osteoarthritis Initiative revealed improved WOMAC knee function scores in arthritic subjects coincidentally prescribed Forteo to treat osteoporosis. These preclinical and human data provide compelling rationale to study Forteo as a novel Osteoarthritis therapy directed at improving joint structure and function. The central Aim of this research study is to challenge the paradigm that cartilage loss in Osteoarthritis is irreversible.

Dr. Carmody received funding to complete this research project through the CTSI Investigator-initiated Pilot Studies for Faculty program. Click here to learn more about this program and how to apply for funding.

CTSI Pilot Program: Vitamin D metabolization in pregnant women

Eva Pressman, M.D., discusses her CTSI Pilot Project, Vitamin D Kinetics During Pregnancy.

Dr. Pressman is The Henry A. Thiede Professor and Chair of The Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at The University of Rochester.

Video by Susanne Pritchard Pallo.


If you’d like to see your research featured in the CTSI blog, email Sean_Dobbin@urmc.rochester.edu.

Success Stories: Pilot Grants lead to R01, new business

Lisa DeLouise, Ph.D., M.P.D., associate professor of Dermatology, has received two Pilot Grants from the CTSI, each of which helped to support a line of research that blossomed into much more. She shared her experiences with CTSI Stories.

LisaDeLouise

Thanks for taking the time to chat! Tell us a little about the Pilot Grants you’ve gotten through the CTSI.

The first one I got was in 2007, and it was for nanoparticle skin research. I look at cosmetic products to see if they have efficacy and any unintended toxicity issues, and back in 2006, I got involved in the question of whether nanoparticles that are increasingly formulated into various topical cosmetic products have any of these side effects.

In sunscreens, for example, there are ingredients that can have unintended biological consequences, so I was looking at a couple compounds used in sunscreens – titanium oxide and zinc oxide – which absorb UV light so your skin is protected. When these compounds were first used, they were approved by the FDA at the micron level – so, relatively speaking, the particles were too large to seep through skin.

But in the 1990s, manufacturers learned to make the metal oxide particles on the nano-scale – 1,000 times smaller. Since it was the same elemental composition,  it didn’t have to go through rigorous FDA testing again, but scientists became concerned that the nano-sized particles might have different properties than the micron-level ones. Some compounds, for example, can become more optically and electrically active, or more likely to catalyze reactions that could cause oxidative stress in tissues

It seems like they might be more susceptible to being absorbed by skin.

Yes, that was also a concern – whether they could go through the skin barrier. So that’s what really launched my interest in this field of nanotoxicology, and I got some funding from the CTSI Pilot Program to look at this in the early going.

I was also questioning whether people with skin diseases – who tend to have defects in their skin barrier – could be more susceptible to penetration of these materials. So in collaboration with Lisa Beck, M.D., we made some of these comparisons.

What did you find?

Well, much of the research is still ongoing, because thanks in part to the early data gathered from the CTSI from 2007-2008, I was able to get an R01 grant in 2011. So I’m in my fourth year of that. But we do know that nanoparticles go through the skin and more easily through barrier impaired skin. The titanium dioxide has the tendency to conglomerate on the skin surface, so it loses it’s nanomaterial status. The zinc oxide, though, does get into the body, though it’s still unclear whether it’s penetrating the skin as nanoparticle or in another form such as a dissociated ions.

Very interesting. How about the second CTSI Pilot grant you received in 2011?

In 2011, the CTSI supported an application of microarray technology that allowed us to sort and enrich rare cells in the blood. The award was critical to fostering a collaboration between myself and James Kobie, Ph.D. We haven’t landed the R01 yet – we’re still trying – but the big success story is that the application of the technology has proven very positive.

In cancer, a lot of tumors are infiltrated with B-cells, which are antibody-making cells. So understanding the antibodies and other proteins secreted will help us understand the disease and why the B-cells are there sometimes and not there other times. Also, in cancer therapeutics, the field seems to be headed toward controlling the immune system and training it to fight the cancer in a more effective way.

So with the microarray technology, we were able to prove that you could look specifically at these human B-cells and their secretions. Earlier this year, we started a company named Nidus Biosciences to explore the potential of this technology. The CTSI is what really kept us going with momentum in that crucial early stage.