2023 Pilot Awardees

Section 1


PI: Yama Akbari, MD, PhD
Co-I: Michael Rochon-Duck, MD

Brain-heart connections during cardiac arrest for early stage prognosis and treatments to improve outcome
Cardiac arrest induces spreading depolarization in the brain, which can cause neurological damage and affects blood pressure and heart rate. This suggests there is a “brain-heart connection”. In this project we seek to understand which neural pathways are causal in this interaction using a rodent model and to understand whether similar phenomena are present in human patients.


PI: Ralph Clayman, MD
Co-I: Seyed Hossein Hosseini Sharifi, MD

Intraoperative ureteral dilation using electromotive drug administration (EMDA)
The purpose of our study is to evaluate the effectiveness of electromotive drug administration as a method for acutely administering pharmacological agents deep into the ureteral wall in order to cause acute relaxation of the ureter. If successful, this would allow for rapid dilation of the ureter thereby facilitating the passage of larger ureteral access sheaths to facilitate ureteroscopic stone removal of renal stones. This would also allow for approaching larger renal stones, thereby decreasing the need for the far more morbid procedure of percutaneous transrenal stone removal.


PI: Oliver Eng, MD
Co-I: Eric Hanse, PhD

Metabolic phenotype and development of novel therapeutics for peritoneal metastases
Given the prevalence of peritoneal metastases in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer, the development of novel therapies can potentially impact millions of patients worldwide. Here, we propose foundational experiments that will drive future research aimed at implementing the use of alpha-ketoglutarate for peritoneal metastases. We hope to demonstrate this treatment will modulate durable changes to the cancer cells and their ability to survive in the unique environment of the peritoneum.


PI: Andrej Lupták, PhD
Co-I: Claudia Benavente, PhD

Investigating the role of CPEB3 ribozyme in glioblastoma
The purpose of this project is to test the hypothesis that inhibition of the CPEB3 ribozyme using antisense oligonucleotides will lead to higher production of the CPEB3 protein, which will act as a tumor suppressor in glioblastoma. The project will test this new type of therapy in patient-derived mouse xenografts.


PI: Bryce Mander, PhD
Co-Is: Elizabeth Thomas, PhD, & Douglas Granger, PhD

Assessment of relationships among sleep quality, memory, and salivary biomarkers of Alzheimer's disease, glial activation, and neurodegeneration biomarkers
The current study proposes to examine whether we can measure biologically relevant Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers in humans by collecting saliva before and after a night of sleep. By doing so, we seek to determine whether these saliva measures are associated with sleep disturbances that can be targeted by currently available sleep interventions with the purpose of reducing the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease in future studies.


PI: Farouk Nouizi, PhD
Co-Is: Nadine Abi-Joudeh, MD, & Gultekin Gulsen, PhD

Physiological monitoring of transarterial embolization outcomes using a dedicated CT-guided optical imaging system
How transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) using different size agents results in significantly different treatment outcomes is an area of intense study. We propose to evaluate the performance of our recently developed μCT-guided optical molecular imager in quantifying post-TACE embolization outcomes in rabbits based on tumor oxygenation and perfusion. This study will allow us to (a) better understand the effect of the embolization beads’ size on TACE outcome and (b) establish our preclinical hybrid imaging platform as a pivotal tool for the investigation of other critical agent related aspects (drug concentration & radiation dose) that might allow standardization of TACE regimes in clinic.


PI: Dorota Skowronska-Krawczyk, PhD

RGC protection in glaucoma
Increased intraocular pressure (IOP) is an important risk factor in the development of glaucoma. We hypothesize the activation of the IL1alpha pathway has an essential role in retina damage induced by IOP elevation. We propose to use the antagonist of IL1 receptors immediately after the IOP elevation to inhibit the early inflammation and propagation of the stress in the tissue. If successful, our data will suggest IL1alpha-dependent inflammation as a potential target for the treatment and prevention of glaucoma.


PI: Lisa Wagar, PhD
Co-I: Douglas Trask, MD, PhD

Tracking immune responses to live-attenuated influenza vaccine in human tonsils
This study will deeply profile the tonsil tissues from recently vaccinated participants who are undergoing tonsillectomy. Our main goal is to understand how recent flu vaccination (either intranasally or intramuscularly) elicits responses from immune cells that live in the tissues, and whether different routes of immunization impact how the cells respond.

Dissemination and Implementation Pilot Award Recipient


PI: Oswald Steward, PhD
Co-I: Maya Hatch, PhD

Quantitative assessment of arm movement function for nerve repair surgery prognosis
This project will collect preliminary data with the Microsoft Kinect® 3D sensor system that allows full quantitative assessment of upper extremity movement in 4-5 minutes. There is immediate clinical significance in terms of documenting functionally meaningful recovery following nerve transfer surgery, but the even greater potential significance is development of a quantitative assessment tool for upper extremity function that can be conveniently deployed for clinical trials for any disorder resulting in upper extremity impairment.

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