In Silicon Valley, investors flock to back potentially disruptive new technology and apps — even if they are still in development. But the funding landscape is a little different for health research. Although novel ideas have great potential to radically improve health care and medicine, funding agencies usually choose to fund well-established research. This can be a barrier for researchers with new ideas.
Together, Arizona State University and Mayo Clinic are addressing this challenge and giving promising novel research the momentum it needs with an annual award of seed grants and accelerations grants.
For 14 years, the Mayo Clinic and ASU seed grant program has been funding — or seeding — new research collaborations between ASU and Mayo Clinic researchers aimed at improving patient care. By launching novel research on a small scale, researchers have been able to attract funding needed for larger studies and are making significant impact in their fields of study.
For example, since 2005 the Mayo Clinic and ASU seed grants have translated into 57 externally funded projects worth approximately $30.5 million. Seed grant recipients have also shared their knowledge through more than 25 journal publications and by mentoring student researchers.
This year, the eight teams selected for seed funding will tackle research ranging from hand rehabilitation after stroke to better diagnostics for obesity-associated liver disease. Each team includes a researcher at ASU and at Mayo Clinic and draws on the strengths of each institution.
“Together ASU and Mayo Clinic are addressing critical issues in health and medicine by leveraging clinical expertise and a commitment to use-inspired, innovative research,” said Cheryl Conrad, professor and assistant vice president of research development of ASU’s Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development. “In addition to attracting significant external funding, seed grant teams go on to submit patents, publish in top journals and improve outcomes for patients. All of this work makes an impact on human health and our economic well-being.”
“Research drives everything we do for our patients,” said Hugo E. Vargas, medical director of Mayo Clinic’s Office of Clinical Research in Arizona. “The long-standing tradition of the seed grant awards allows Mayo Clinic and ASU researchers and physician-scientists to work together to find answers to unmet patient needs, with the ultimate goal of advancing care for our patients. These awards also help to highlight the strong relationship that exists between Mayo Clinic and ASU.”
The 2018 seed grant projects and lead investigators are:
“Developing nanotechnique-based diagnostics for obesity-associated liver disease using circulating hepatocyte-derived extracellular vesicle biomarkers,” Yung Chang, professor, School of Life Sciences, ASU; Harmeet Malhi, MBBS, gastroenterology and hepatology, Mayo Clinic
“Clinical application of telomere length calculations for early detection of premalignant colon lesions and colorectal cancer,” Wayne Frasc, professor, School of Life Sciences, ASU; Lisa Boardman, MD, gastroenterology and hepatology, Mayo Clinic
“Development of bioactive, stable secretin agonists for the potential treatment of obesity and diabetes: first-in-class therapeutics for critical clinical problems,” Giovanna Ghirlanda, professor, School of Molecular Sciences, ASU; Lawrence Miller, MD, gastroenterology and hepatology, Mayo Clinic
“Identification and rapid quantification of myeloma cell-specific extracellular vesicles,” Ye Hu, associate professor, Biodesign Institute, ASU; Diane Jelinek, PhD, immunology, Mayo Clinic
“Real-time feedback training to improve gait and posture in people with Parkinson’s disease,”Narayanan Krishnamurthi, assistant professor, College of Nursing and Health Innovation, ASU; Erika Driver-Dunckley, MD, Department of Neurology, Mayo Clinic
“Dual-task perturbation training: A novel intervention for fall prevention in people with Parkinson’s disease,” Daniel Peterson, assistant professor, School of Nutrition and Health Promotion, ASU; Shyamal Mehta, MD, PhD, Department of Neurology, Mayo Clinic
“Patient-centered exploration and innovation to understand and ease the burden of dialysis,”Kathleen Pine, assistant professor, School for the Science of Health Care Delivery, ASU; Victor Montori, MD, endocrinology, Mayo Clinic.
“Impaired hand function after stroke: A pilot study of hand dysfunction in stroke with pure motor or sensorimotor deficits and implications for hand functional rehabilitation post stroke,” Marco Santello, professor, School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering, ASU; Maria Aguilar, MD, neurology, Mayo Clinic.
ASU and Mayo Clinic also collaborate to award an annual acceleration grant. This award targets a Mayo Clinic-ASU research project with established pilot data that is poised for high-impact and high-yield in the science of health care delivery. The award selection and funding is a collaboration between the Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Center for the Science of Healthcare Delivery at Mayo Clinic and the Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development.
This year, the acceleration grant recipients will focus on improving type 1 diabetes treatment. Currently, type 1 diabetes interventions like blood glucose monitoring, food intake and insulin administration are based on a “one size fits all” approach and patients often struggle to adhere to the complex self-management.
“Our goal is to use informatics to deliver personalized interventions to improve the treatment of diabetes patients, and receiving the acceleration grant is making this possible. We are excited about the opportunity to help Mayo Clinic patients effectively manage their diabetes,” said Adela Grando, assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Informatics.
Grando and co-investigator Bithika Thompson, Department of Endocrinology at Mayo Clinic, received the 2018 acceleration grant to address challenges of type 1 diabetes treatment. Previously, the team received federal funding for a pilot study, and the acceleration grant will enable them to build on and expand their research.