ACTRI Announces 2018 Pilot Project Awardees

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February 27, 2018

UC San Diego Altman Clinical and Translational Research Institute (ACTRI) announces the selection of 14 Pilot Project grant awardees for 2018. Pilot Project grants are one-year competitive cash awards for researchers to obtain preliminary data. Thirteen 2018 awardees are from UC San Diego and represent seven departments, and one is from San Diego State University in the department of psychology. Recipients were awarded in the categories of clinical and translational research and, for the first time, two were selected in the category of life course research.

Scientific topics included in the Pilot Projects for 2018 range from targeting the gut barrier with the aim of curing inflammatory bowel diseases, to the role of testosterone in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, to treating depression in schizophrenia with probiotics. The ACTRI also announced the Daniel T. O'Connor Memorial Award recipient, which provides an additional $5,000 for research to the top ranked 2018 ACTRI pilot project, Kevin King, MD, PhD, for a study of single cell analysis in ischemic heart disease.

“We were struck by the depth and diversity of the proposals we received and are very pleased to announce this year’s awardees,” said Murray Stein, MD, MPH, director of the ACTRI Pilot Project Program. “The projects funded are delving into intriguing areas of research that will investigate, for example, how to mitigate weight gain side effects of antipsychotic drugs, as well as treatment to improve white matter development in fetal alcohol syndrome disorders.” Stein oversaw the selection committee for the projects.

The 2018 ACTRI Pilot Project recipients and their projects are:


Category of Clinical and Translational Research

Andrew Barleben, MD, MPH
UC San Diego, Department of Surgery
Project Title: Combined Computational-Experimental Approach to Evaluation of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms following Stent Graft Placement to Mitigate Endoleak and Late Graft Failure

Rafael Bejar, MD, PhD
UC San Diego, Department of Medicine
Project Title: Pilot study of age-associated cellular and molecular markers in patients with MDS

Leslie Crews, PhD
UC San Diego, Department of Medicine
Project Title: Targeting interferon-responsive transcripts to prevent malignant regeneration in multiple myeloma

PI: Soumita Das, PhD
UC San Diego, Department of Pathology
Project Title: Targeting the Gut Barrier to Cure Inflammatory Bowel Diseases

Adam DeConde, MD
UC San Diego, Department of Surgery
Project Title: Investigation of the Lipomics of Aspirin-Exacerbated Respiratory Disease

Paul Kim, MD, FACC
UC San Diego, Division of Cardiology
Project Title: Identifying an Immune-mediated Mechanism in Non-specific Allograft Dysfunction of Heart-Transplant Patients

Kevin King, MD, PhD
UC San Diego, Division of Cardiology, and Department of Bioengineering
2018 Daniel T. O’Connor Award Recipient
Project Title: Clinical Pilot of Single Cell Analysis during Human Cardiac Ischemia and Infarction

Olivia Osborn, PhD
UC San Diego, Department of Medicine
Project Title: Metabolomic Signatures Associated with Antipsychotic-induced Food Intake

Matthew Panizzon, PhD
UC San Diego, Department of Psychiatry
Project Title: Evaluating the Role of Testosterone in the Vulnerability for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Bryan Sun, MD, PhD
UC San Diego, Department of Dermatology
Project Title: Impact of Beckers Nevus-Associated ACTB Mutations on Hedgehog Signaling

Niels Vande Casteele, PhD
UC San Diego, Department of Medicine
Project Title: Quantification of Denatured and Degraded Drug in Intestinal Tissue Samples from Inflammatory Bowel Disease Patients Treated with Vedolizumab

Amir Zarrinpar, MD, PhD
UC San Diego, Department of Medicine
Project Title: Serum Bile Acid Pool of Patients with Hepatic Encephalopathy

Category of Life Course Research

Eileen Moore, PhD
San Diego State University, Department of Psychology
Project Title: Pharmacological Treatment to Improve White Matter Plasticity in FASD

Tanya Nguyen, PhD
UC San Diego, Department of Psychiatry
Project Title: Probiotic Intervention for Depression in Schizophrenia Across the Adult Lifespan


About UC San Diego Altman Clinical and Translational Research Institute:

UC San Diego Altman Clinical and Translational Research Institute (ACTRI) is part of a national Clinical and Translational Science Award consortium, led by the National Institutes of Health National Center for Advancing Translational Science. Established in 2010, ACTRI provides infrastructure and support for basic, translational and clinical research throughout the San Diego region to bring discoveries from the laboratory to the bedside, and facilitates training and education of the next generation of researchers. ACTRI carries out its activities in collaboration with institutional and corporate partners and currently has more than 1,425 members.

actri.ucsd.edu