ASU and UA Awarded $2 Million to Fund Joint Biomedical Research Projects

ASU and UA Awarded $2 Million to Fund Joint Biomedical Research Projects

February 23, 2007

February 22, 2007

Joe Caspermeyer, Media Relations Manager & Science Editor
(480) 727-0369 |

Researchers at The University of Arizona and Arizona State University have been awarded more than $2 million to fund collaborative biomedical research projects designed to accelerate the translation of research discoveries to the clinic and target diseases such as asthma, Parkinson’s disease, valley fever and cancer.

“This new collaborative endeavor brings together some of the brightest minds in Arizona to tackle a number of important health care needs and further stimulate the rapid statewide expansion of biomedical research,” said Jonathan Fink, vice president of research and economic affairs at ASU.

“If the number of applications we received is any indication, UA and ASU faculty are very enthusiastic about working together to advance human health. This initial funding makes these faculty collaborations possible and paves the way for future funding from federal sources,” said Leslie Tolbert, vice president for research at the UA.

The Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR), through the use of the voter-approved sales tax increase that created the Technology Research Infrastructure Fund (TRIF), approved the allocation of funds to promote cross disciplinary research projects between ASU and UA, with a strategic emphasis on building collaboration between ASU’s Biodesign Institute and UA’s BIO5 Institute in the initial year of funding.

A total of 10 research projects involving co-principal investigators from both universities will receive funding in the next year, with researchers at ASU’s Biodesign Institute and UA’s BIO5 Institute receiving nearly $1.2 million for four of the 10 research projects. The awards are designed to provide “seed money” to researchers for “proof-of-concept” projects and leverage further investment through external funding from federal granting agencies and industry. An additional $800,000 has been designated for six projects. The awards encompass a broad range of disciplines and expertise at both universities including chemistry, engineering, radiology, medicine, basic sciences and optical sciences.

“BIO5 and Biodesign have complementary strengths that are being combined for the benefit of the state of Arizona,” says BIO5 Director Vicki Chandler.

“The strategic partnerships established between Biodesign and BIO5 will leverage our citizens’ investment in the significant expansion of university research capacity to improve the quality of life,” said George Poste, director of the Biodesign Institute.

The Biodesign and the BIO5 Institutes specifically will focus on developing novel molecular therapeutics and diagnostics to improve the health of individuals suffering from diabetes, asthma, and valley fever. The goals of the projects include:

  • Discovering and validating biological markers to accurately predict the development of Type 2 (adult-onset) diabetes, the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States.
  • Identifying the genetic and immune profiles of individuals at high risk for severe asthma attacks, the most common cause of acute hospital admission in childhood.
  • Developing a rapid diagnostic test to screen individuals for valley fever.
  • Sharing complementary expertise to develop new drug discovery efforts.

The additional six joint ASU and UA awards encompass a breadth of projects that aim to:

  • Create breakthrough protein analyses technologies to rapidly assess the severity of potentially life-threatening conditions in emergency medicine, reducing the current time frame from days to a single hour.
  • Examine the cellular dynamics controlling formation of normal tissue and the disruption of those dynamics that lead to invasive cancer.
  • Develop a digital, audiovisual biofeedback system for neural rehabilitation.  The system will create a dynamic virtual reality environment to help individuals in reaching and grasping tasks for the rehabilitation of stroke and Parkinson’s disease.
  • Study individual genetic profiles for predictive risks in colon and colorectal cancer.
  • Set the stage for the development of a new gene therapy for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.
  • Develop high-powered imaging technologies for a broad range of medical applications including the detection of cancer, dental tissue imaging and heart disease progression.


Written by: Joe Caspermeyer