UO-OHSU research program to support five new projects

Five collaborative research teams exploring topics such as craniofacial bone repair, risk factors for childhood obesity and the effect of dietary protein on the gut microbiome have received piloting grants to get their projects off the ground.

Part of the OHSU-UO Collaborative Seed Grant funding program, the awards were announced by the Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation. The program creates new collaborations between researchers at Oregon Health & Science University and the University of Oregon.

The project topics and grant recipients are:

  • Dietary protein impact on colonic microbiome signature and alteration of colonocyte inflammation-associated DNA methylation profile; Brendan Bohannan, UO, and Anna Hunter, OHSU.
  • Early environmental factors and cellular mechanisms underlying increased risk for childhood obesity; Carrie McCurdy, UO, and Joel Nigg, OHSU.
  • Determining the driving forces of protein aggregation with native ion mobility-mass spectrometry; James Prell, UO, and Kirsten Lampi, OHSU.
  • Microengineering vascularized and innervated bone-like scaffolds as an alternative to autologous bone grafts; Marian Hettiaratchi, UO, and Luiz Bertassoni, OHSU.
  • Using the epigenetic clock to test gene x environmental interactions in the context of brain aging and neurodegenerative diseases; Kirstin Sterner, UO, and Lucia Carbone, OHSU.

Launched in February 2018, the OHSU-UO Collaborative Seed Grant program builds on the strengths of faculty members at both institutions, deepen UO-OHSU partnerships and prepare UO-OHSU teams to apply for external funding that will provide long-term support for research programs, with the ultimate goal of significantly increasing the number of externally funded UO-OHSU collaborative projects.

The new awards are for phase 1 piloting grants, which support studies designed to provide feasibility evidence or preliminary data for joint UO-OHSU grant applications. The program also funds convening grants to bring together faculty from both institutions to incubate collaborative ideas and phase 2 piloting grants for continued support for former piloting grant recipients to build their research program as they pursue or await receipt of external funding. 

The latest round of grants brings the total number of projects to 16 since the program began. The initial round of 10 grant recipients ­was announced in June 2018. A second round of awardees was announced in August 2019, in which a convening project received funding, and three piloting projects launched in the inaugural round received additional phase 2 funding.

The new grants add to an already diverse list of interdisciplinary projects in areas that include optogenetics, biophysics, neuroscience, human physiology, chemical biology, community health, materials science, cardiology, biomedical engineering, biology of the built environment and other specialties.

The initial idea for the seed funding program emerged during a daylong summit in 2017. Researchers and institutional leaders from OHSU and UO identified research topics where each institution has complementary strengths, discussed existing barriers to collaboration and brainstormed solutions.

Visit the OHSU-UO Partnership website for more information. Questions about the program can be directed to Kate Petcosky-Kulkarni, director of strategic research initiatives for Research and Development Services, the UO department supporting faculty members and researchers in funding and program development.