Encouraging Medical Innovation through Interdisciplinary Investigations

Bringing together researchers from different scientific specialties and disciplines to share unique perspectives and complementary skills in the pursuit of innovative discoveries and translational "bench-to-bedside" research is a major strategic priority for the Research program at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC). We believe the best translational innovations often occur when scientists from different backgrounds come together to solve problems.

To support these collaborations, BIDMC created the CAO Pilot Grants Program. The initiative, launched in 2014 with support from BIDMC donors Ruth Moorman and Sheldon Simon, has awarded $1.75 million in funding to BIDMC investigators over the past two years.

These grants enable the creation of unique collaborations among our scientists to explore exciting ideas and pursue unconventional approaches to address health care issues that, in total, affect millions of patients worldwide.

Meeting an Important Need

Pilot grants, which provide funding of $25,000 to $100,000 for periods ranging from six months to two years, enable scientists to acquire preliminary data that can then be leveraged for use in applying for larger and longer-term grants, including funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Creating Interdisciplinary Alliances

"Our CAO Pilot Grant has provided a wonderful opportunity for me, a biochemist, to work with Steve Cannistra, an expert in the treatment of ovarian cancer, and Sean Clohessy, an expert in modeling cancer in mice," said Jack Lawler, PhD, of the Department of Pathology and the Center for Vascular Biology Research. Together with Cannistra and Clohessy, Lawler has been working on the development of a novel therapeutic for ovarian cancer.

"The three of us have complementary expertise that enabled us to design clinically relevant experiments and develop new mouse models," he says." This funding provided us with support to test our drug in additional models, including patient-derived xenografts. The data that we obtain should help us to identify a corporate partner for further development and clinical trials."

Over the past year, Evan Rosen, PhD, an investigator in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, worked with John Rinn, PhD, of the Department of Pathology and Samuel Lin, MD, of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery to investigate the epigenomic and transcriptional basis of human insulin resistance.

"This funding enabled the three of us to do some truly transformative work by catalyzing interactions with our clinical colleagues and with world-class experts in the bioinformatics analysis of genome-wide data," says Rosen. "The project we undertook was beyond the scope of any single lab, yet this sort of multidisciplinary science is critical for making the next wave of advances. The CAO Pilot Grants help make this possible."

2015 CAO Pilot Grants

The following teams of BIDMC investigators have been awarded 2015 CAO Pilot Grants:

Immunomodulatory effects of MUC1 and discovery of microRNAs regulating MUC1 mediated signaling. David Avigan, MD (Hematology/Oncology), Jacalyn Rosenblatt, MD (Hematology/Oncology) and Frank Slack, PhD (Pathology)

TM4SF1 as a new diagnostic and therapeutic target of solid tumors. Shou-Ching Jaminet, PhD (Pathology), Harold F. Dvorak, MD (Pathology) and John V. Frangioni, MD, PhD (Medicine and Radiology)

The in vivo kinetics of AolL1. Anders Berg, MD, (Pathology) David Friedman, MD (Nephrology), Martin Pollak, MD (Nephrology)

A novel deep sequencing platform for virus detection and discovery in central nervous system infections and multiple sclerosis. Igor Koralnik, MD, (Neurology) Spyros Chalkias, MD (Infectious Diseases)

Small molecule modulators of stress-induced kinase activity in Alzheimer's disease. Tae Ho Lee, PhD, (Gerontology) Hak Soo Choi, PhD (Molecular Imaging)

Targeting Bmi1 in pulmonary adenocarcinomas. Elena Levantini, PhD, (Hematology-Oncology), Daniel Tenen, MD (Hematology-Oncology)

A novel vaccine against BK virus. C. Sabrina Tan, MD, (Neurology) Dan Barouch, MD, PhD, (Virology and Vaccine Research) Martha Pavlakis, MD (Transplantation)

February 2016