Pilot Funding Awardees Present Work at Colloquium

Clinical or Translational Research Center, Downtown Campus

Published April 22, 2013

Investigators who received pilot funding awards last year through the Clinical and Translational Research Center presented their work in a colloquium on Friday, April 12th.

“In fact, one specific question influenced my future experimental plans as we go forward.”
Dr. Timothy Murphy, Director
CTRC

The colloquium, hosted at the CTRC’s downtown complex, offered an opportunity for awardees to present their projects to an interdisciplinary group of peers and receive feedback. Dr. Timothy Murphy, Director of the CTRC, said that the colloquium helped bring into focus the success of the pilot funding program so far, although it will require at least another year or two, he added, for it to bear fruit in terms of further external grants and funding. “A lot of investigators have gone on to apply for funding from the NIH,” he said, “and one investigator has already been told that the grant will likely be funded.”

That investigator, Dr. Anthony A. Campagnari, gave a talk on his project, “Adapting Photodynamic Therapy into a Novel Treatment for Bacterial Infections.” He reports that the pilot funding helped him complete the studies that shaped his NIH competitive renewal, for which he has been informed that the grant has a very high probability of receiving funding. Dr. Campagnari writes of his project, “Infections caused by multidrug resistant Gram-negative bacteria continue to be a significant threat to public healthcare systems worldwide. There is a critical need for the development of novel therapeutic approaches to treat these infections. The goals of this research project are to provide proof-of-principle that photodynamic therapy (PDT), an FDA-approved treatment for certain malignancies, can be modified into an innovative, broadly applicable antimicrobial therapy.  The data from our studies suggests that PDT has potential as a novel antimicrobial treatment for chronic middle ear disease in young children caused by antibiotic resistant bacteria.”

Presenting at the colloquium was helpful in a number of ways, Dr. Campagnari adds. “First, preparing a concise talk forced me to focus on the important details of the project, i.e. significance, positive results and future directions.  Second, presenting to my peers provided an opportunity for valuable feedback and questions.  In fact, one specific question influenced my future experimental plans as we go forward.” Dr. Murphy notes that the large number and wide range of attendees helped make this kind of feedback possible. “We had over 100 people attend,” Dr. Murphy said. This provided investigators with a forum beyond UB, bringing in the greater research community of Western New York, including Roswell Park, for interaction with people with different disciplinary backgrounds.

Those in attendance also had the opportunity to learn more about how to effectively compete for Pilot Fund awards. Drs. Steven Fliesler and Leonard Epstein gave an overview of the pilot studies program with a presentation entitled, “What we are looking for: How to win a Pilot grant award.” During the presentation, they revealed that there will likely be four awards in the next round of funding, at a maximum of $50,000 each. The criteria for judging proposals will be an emphasis on “high-risk, high-reward” proposals, those that involve multiple investigators across disciplines, with a strong potential for translational outcomes and further outside funding.

Other presentations at the CTRC colloquium included: “Anthracycline-related Cardiomyopathy in Breast Cancer Patients: Impact of Carbonyl Reductase 3 Genotype Status on Echocardiographic Measurements of Cardiomyopathy,” by Tracey O’Connor MD, Department of Medicine, Roswell Park Cancer Institute; “Multifunctional Optical Imaging Probe for Cutaneous Chronic Graft versus Host Disease Lesions,” by George Chen, MD Department of Oncology, Roswell Park Cancer Institute; “Overcoming Myeloid Cell-Mediated Immunosuppression to Enhance Vaccine Efficacy in Ovarian Cancer,” by Brahm Segal, MD, FACP, FIDSA Department of Medicine at UB and Department of Immunology at Roswell Park Cancer Institute; “Novel Multiplex Autoantigen Arrays for Biomarker Discovery in Skin autoimmunity,” by Krinstina Seiffert-Sinha MD Department of Dermatology, UB and Roswell Park Cancer Institute; and “One Size Fits All Vascular Graft-Tissue Engineered Vasculature,” by Daniel Swartz PhD Department of Pediatrics, UB.

The pilot studies grants were funded through contributions totaling $200,000 from the following entities:

  • The Dean’s Office of the following schools:

School Medicine and Biomedical Sciences

School of Dental Medicine

School of Nursing

School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

School of Public Health and Health Professions

School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

  • UB Office of the Vice President for Research
  • UB Office of the Vice President for Health Sciences
  • Roswell Park Cancer Institute