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AB Nexus Grant Program Announces Fall 2021 Awards

Seven new grants have been awarded to advance a wide range of projects; momentum builds as AB Nexus continues through second year

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Written by Staff on December 6, 2021
What You Need To Know

AB Nexus, an initiative to strengthen research collaboration between the CU Anschutz and CU Boulder campuses, announces new grant recipients. Since launching almost two years ago, the initiative has helped intercampus research teams with seed grants and opportunities for external funding. 

Today, the AB Nexus program announced its third round of grant awards to faculty at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and the University of Colorado Boulder, collaborating on innovative research projects that aim to improve human wellbeing through basic science and translational research approaches. 

This announcement comes on the heels of a successful first year for AB Nexus, supported by the University of Colorado President’s Initiative and leadership at both campuses to strategically create more opportunities for CU Anschutz and CU Boulder experts to collaborate and drive innovation in health sciences.

“This is an exciting milestone for the AB Nexus initiative as we are announcing funding for several new research initiatives today, and marking the completion of the first year of the grant cycle within this initiative,” said Thomas Flaig, MD, vice chancellor for research at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus. “AB Nexus has encouraged collaborations among intercampus faculty allowing us to achieve even greater impact, both individually and collectively, to tackle some of today’s most pressing health issues. We’re looking forward to what’s to come as AB Nexus continues to bring researchers together.”

Since launching almost two years ago, AB Nexus has helped increase partnerships and strengthen existing areas of connectivity between CU Anschutz and CU Boulder. The initiative has provided seed grants to spur early collaborations, helped faculty rapidly respond to federal research opportunities, and elevated the connectivity between the two campuses to increase joint public and private proposal submissions.

“As this collaboration between our campuses and faculty matures, we’re seeing an encouraging diversity in the disciplines and research teams that are working together,” said Terri Fiez, PhD, vice chancellor for research and innovation at CU Boulder. “Even more exciting is that those teams are delving into some of the most important challenges currently facing scientists, which means the opportunities for impact are tremendous.”

As the fall 2020 cycle wraps up, external funding is anticipated. This past summer’s report already showed significant progress has been made with over $2 million in external funding awarded, an additional $8.3 million in external proposals submitted and a dozen research papers published or presented from projects funded by this initiative in the fall of 2020 cycle, alone.

AB Nexus recipient Richard Tobin, PhD, shared recently in a feature article that their study funded by AB Nexus is giving them the data to apply for a much larger grant to do the preclinical studies required in order to move into clinical trials. Tobin is an assistant research professor of surgical oncology in the University of Colorado School of Medicine and is collaborating with Laurel Hind, PhD, an assistant professor in the biomedical engineering program at CU Boulder, to study the role of myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) in sepsis.

Introducing new intercampus research awards 

AB Nexus has provided seven new grant awards, including five new collaborations and two projects that build on existing collaborations, totaling $437,500. This total amount includes a first-of-its-kind financial contribution towards the Mechanical Forces in Breast Cancer Bone Metastasis project from the University of Colorado Cancer Center, through the AB Nexus co-sponsorship initiative. 

New collaboration takes a deeper look at micro-and nano-plastic particles within Boulder and Denver water sources

This new collaboration will identify the chemical compositions of micro- and nano-plastic particles (MNPLs) in water sources and their impacts on human health. The knowledge gained from this study will facilitate the assessment of potential environmental risks caused by MNPLs and provide guidelines on the plastic waste management, water treatment and environment protection system. The team will study MNPLs in major creeks and lakes, tap water and commercially bottled water that provides primary water sources for Boulder and Denver Metro area.

Principal investigators for this project, Evaluation of the Composition and Health Risks of Environmental Micro- and Nano-plastics, are Suzhao Li, PhD, in the Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases at CU Anschutz; and Wei Zhang, PhD, in the Department of Chemistry, College of Arts and Sciences at CU Boulder. 

Full list of fall of 2021 grant recipients

  • Cell-type, Pathway, and Neurotransmitter-Specific Regulation of Feeding Circuitry
    Christopher Ford, PhD, (Pharmacology), CU Anschutz and David Root, PhD, (Psychology and Neuroscience), CU Boulder
  • Understanding AKT1 Function Regulating Interneuronal Activity Involved in E/I balance
    Molly Huntsman, PhD, (Pharmaceutical Sciences), CU Anschutz and Charles Hoeffer, PhD, (Integrative Physiology), CU Boulder
  • Engineered Nanophages for Enhanced Mucosal Delivery
    Uday Kompella (Pharmaceutical Sciences), PhD, CU Anschutz and Loren Hough, PhD, (Physics), CU Boulder
  • Evaluation of the Composition and Health Risks of Environmental Micro- and Nano-plastics
    Suzhao Li, PhD, (Medicine, Infectious Disease) CU Anschutz and Wei Zhang, PhD, (Chemistry), CU Boulder
  • Universal Autism Screening Program in Audiology Clinics
    Deborah Mood, PhD, (Pediatrics), CU Anschutz and Angela Bonino, PhD, (Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences), CU Boulder
  • Combining Innovative Engineered In Vitro and In Vivo Models to Determine the Role of Myeloid Derived Suppressor Cells in Sepsis
    Richard Tobin, PhD, (Medicine, Surgical Oncology), CU Anschutz and Laurel Hind, PhD, (Chemical and Biological Engineering), CU Boulder
  • Mechanical Forces in Breast Cancer Bone Metastasis
    Philip Owens, PhD, (Pathology), CU Anschutz and Maureen Lynch, PhD, (Mechanical Engineering), CU Boulder

AB Nexus provides personalized support 

In addition to the seed grant program, which will accept a new round of proposals in Spring 2022, AB Nexus provides a variety of resources, including personalized support from AB Nexus team members Diane Ladell, research development partnership specialist on the CU Anschutz Medical Campus, and Lisa Nanstad, research development strategist on the CU Boulder campus.

To learn more about these opportunities, more about collaborating across campuses or participating in our co-sponsorship initiative, please visit the AB Nexus website, email Diane Ladell diane.ladell@cuanschutz.edu, Lisa Nanstad ​lisa.nanstad@colorado.edu or abnexus@colorado.edu.

Topics: Research