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The School of Biological Sciences and UCI School of Medicine teamed up to offer two rounds of pilot funding. These projects brought together faculty from the two schools to collaborate and initiate innovative research projects in novel areas of investigation, with the expectation that the work will lead to extramural funding.

This mechanism fostered cross-disciplinary collaborations between the two schools and supported early stage research in any area requiring preliminary data necessary to compete for extramural funding. Projects had to have one or more principal investigators from each school. Applicants received up to $50,000 for a one-year period, with the possibility of a one-year no cost extension.

The School of Biological Sciences and UCI School of Medicine ran the BioSci-SOM pilot awards competition twice. Below is a list of awards from these competitions. There is no plan to run this competition again. Funding for the 2020 BioSci-SOM pilot program was reallocated to support COVID-19 research on campus through the UC Irvine COVID-19 Basic, Translational and Clinical Research Funding Opportunity.

Funded Projects


Neural Stem Cell Promotion of Blood Vessels in 3D Environments

Christopher Hughes, PhD, Professor, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry
Lisa Flanagan, PhD, Associate Professor, Neurology

The PIs have created a 3-dimensional brain microphysiological system containing a biomaterial scaffold that mimics many properties of brain tissue. This platform provides a physiological setting in which to study stem cell-induced vessel formation in stroke.

A New Cellular Target for CNS Alzheimer Disease Studies

Mathew Blurton-Jones, PhD Associate Professor, Neurobiology and Behavior
Edwin Monuki, MD, PhD, Professor and Chair, Pathology and Lab Medicine
Kai Kessenbrock, PhD, Assistant Professor, Biological Chemistry
Qing Nie, PhD,
Chancellor’s Professor, Mathematics and Developmental and Cell Biology

Alzheimer Disease is driven by excessive accumulation of amyloid-beta peptides (Abeta) due to imbalanced Abeta production and clearance. This project examines human-derived choroid plexus epithelial cells using a new derivation protocol and assessing their potential for clearing Abeta.

Novel Links Between Wnt Signaling, Centrosomes, and Cancer

Lee Bardwell, PhD, Professor, Developmental and Cell Biology
Marian Waterman, PhD, Professor, Microbiology and Molecular Genetics

This collaborative project aims to reveal new therapeutic opportunities for targeting the Wnt pathway in cancer, unexpected new connections between Wnt signaling and the maintenance of genome stability, and a novel mechanism by which the centrosome may communicate with the nucleus to regulate gene expression.

The Primary Cilium as a Host Defense Mechanism against Chlamydia

Christine Suetterlin, PhD, Associate Professor, Developmental and Cell Biology
Ming Tan, MD, Professor, Microbiology and Molecular Genetics

This collaborative project between a cell biologist and an infectious disease physician scientist will study how human cells utilize the primary cilium as a novel host defense against Chlamydia, and how this intracellular bacterium counters with a mechanism to induce cilia loss.

Urban Greening Effects on Air Quality: Characterizing the Impact of Biogenic Volatile Organic Compounds on Atmospheric Nanoparticle Toxicity

Celia Louise Braun Faiola, PhD, Assistant Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Michael Kleinman, PhD, Adjunct Professor, Occupational and Environmental Medicine  

This project will compare toxicity of organic particles generated from various plant emission types in the presence and absence of urban pollutants and aims to establish a technique to provide guidance on selecting plants for urban greening programs that will minimize negative impacts of plant volatile emissions on urban air quality.


Clinical and Behavioral Investigations of Human Photopigment Opsin Gene Variations and Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

Cristina Kenney, Professor, Ophthalmology Research
Adriana Briscoe, Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Kimberly A. Jameson, Project Scientist, Institute for Mathematical Behavioral Sciences

This interdisciplinary project investigates clinical, biological and behavioral modeling impacts of human photopigment opsin gene mutations on AMD severity and risk, and aims to achieve innovative basic research advances and translate those advances to clinical assessment procedures.

Molecular and Imaging Approaches to Visualize Mechanotransduction in Human Neural Development

Medha Pathak, Assistant Professor, Physiology and Biophysics
Ian Parker, Professor, Neurobiology and Behavior

This project seeks to develop molecular and imaging approaches to answer a major question in developmental biology: how do cells transduce mechanical forces to shape biochemical and genetic programs?

Contribution of Hippocampal Dopamine to the Excessive Persistence of Pathological Memories

Stephen Mahler, Assistant Professor, Neurobiology and Behavior
Gary Lynch, Professor, Anatomy and Neurobiology

This project examines how significant emotional experiences enhance episodic memory formation and storage, and seeks to identify novel dopaminergic drug targets for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Microbial Community Composition following Fecal Transplant for Recurrent C. difficile Infection

Katrine Whiteson, Assistant Professor, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry
Nimisha Parekh, Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology

This project aims to improve understanding of the mechanisms underlying the effects of fecal microbiota transplants, which are known to be the most effective treatment for recurring Clostridia difficile infections.

Sports Related Concussion

James W. Hicks, Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Steven L. Small, Professor, Neurology

Concussion is a large-scale and long-term health issue that lacks a clear definition. This project aims to produce a physiologically based definition of concussion for use in identifying and stratifying patients.