First recipients of new UO-OHSU seed funding announced

10 collaborative research teams to tackle challenges with big impact

Collaborative research teams examining everything from health care-associated infections to carbon nanotubes have been awarded funding to jump start research projects as part of the 2018 OHSU-UO Collaborative Seed Grant program. Ten teams in all were chosen as part of the program, which seeks to grow new collaborations between researchers at OHSU and the University of Oregon.

“A common thread running through all of these projects is a commitment to high-impact research and discovery,” said David Conover, Ph.D., UO’s vice president for research and innovation. “Each of these projects builds on the respective strengths of our researchers and unites us in a common goal toward life-changing breakthroughs that will resonate throughout our state and beyond.”

“This research and innovation partnership comes at a critical time for Oregon,” said Dan Dorsa, Ph.D., associate vice president for research partnerships at OHSU. “Now more than ever we must come together to solve serious health problems and build research capacity in the state. By coming together, the whole will certainly be greater than the sum of the parts.”

“We believe that these teams will remain engaged well beyond the life of the funding,” said Peter Barr-Gillespie, Ph.D., interim senior vice president for research at OHSU. “These projects will not only spur discovery, but also engage students and help to shape the future of science.”

The seed funding program was announced in February. A call for proposals drew more than 40 applications from teams representing a range of disciplines. The program seeks to increase the number of externally funded OHSU-UO collaborative projects, and reviewers sought out projects that are likely to result in new grant submissions and innovative products.

The 10 interdisciplinary teams that were selected included OHSU and UO researchers focused on optogenetics, biophysics, neuroscience, chemical biology, biology in the built environment, reducing health disparities and a host of other specialties. Projects could have potential life-changing impacts on health outcomes ranging from cancer to Type II diabetes to obesity to mental health. Eventually, the teams will build on the seed grant activities to propose external funding requests to the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Justice, the MacArthur Foundation, the Templeton Foundation and other funders of research.

The list of recipients is as follows:

The initial idea for the seed funding program emerged during a daylong summit that took place in April 2017 and included about 90 OHSU and UO researchers and institutional leaders from a variety of disciplines. The group identified research topics where each institution has complementary strengths, discussed existing barriers to collaboration and brainstormed solutions. Awardees will meet for a second summit on Oct. 8, 2018 for a working session and to present their projects to campus leadership.

OHSU and UO are both developing major new research facilities thanks to unprecedented gifts from the same benefactor. The UO broke ground on the Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact in March; OHSU broke ground last June in Portland on a new research building for the Knight Cancer Institute. Both are $1 billion projects initiated by separate $500 million gifts from Nike founder Phil Knight and his wife, Penny.

OHSU and UO have both committed funds to the seed funding program for one year with the hope that there will be future rounds of funding. Visit the OHSU-UO Partnership website for more information.