Butcher Seed Grants boost work of bioscience researchers

CU-Boulder, CU Denver faculty among 2012 recipients

The recipients of the 2012 Butcher Seed Grant Awards recently were notified of their winning proposals in interdisciplinary bioscience. These grants bring critical funding to many of Colorado’s top academic researchers wanting to expand their scientific discoveries, and build new collaborations that span disciplines and academic institutions.

This year’s winning proposals are collaborative efforts among researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder, the University of Colorado Denver and National Jewish Health. Winners will receive up to $100,000 to further their research projects.

These proposals offer an exciting look into the biomedical research going on in Colorado, covering everything from therapeutics for heart failure using phenotypic screening, to using live cell imaging to change our understanding of cells. The awardees are:

Investigating phospholipid asymmetry with specific peptide probes

  • Xue, Ding (PI)
    Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, CU-Boulder
  • Yin, Hang (Co-PI)
    Biofrontiers Institute, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, CU-Boulder

Discovery of novel therapeutics for heart failure by high throughput phenotypic screening

  • McKinsey, Timothy (PI)
    Division of Cardiology/Department of Medicine, CU Denver
  • Reid, Brian (Co-PI)
    Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, CU Denver

Biological applications of novel shape-persistent, three-dimensional organic molecular cages

  • Liu, Xuedong (PI)
    Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, CU-Boulder
  • Zhang, Wei (Co-PI)
    Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, CU-Boulder

Structural studies of DUF1220 protein domains

  • Sikela, James (PI)
    Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, University of Colorado School of Medicine
  • Pardi, Arthur (Co-PI)
    Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, CU-Boulder

Chemical synthesis and biological characterization of homogeneous human precursor IL-1α glycoforms

  • Tan, Zhongping (PI)
    Biofrontiers Institute, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, CU-Boulder
  • Dinarello, Charles (Co-PI)
    Department of Medicine and Immunology, University of Colorado School of Medicine

Role of the Sf3a mRNA splicing complex in innate immunity regulation

  • Alper, Scott (PI)
    Integrated Department of Immunology, National Jewish Health
  • Leach, Sonia (Co-PI)
    Center for Genes, Environment and Health, National Jewish Health
  • Blumenthal, Thomas (Co-PI)
    Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, CU-Boulder

Revolutionizing the way we look at cells: Defining novel organelles by harnessing the power of proteomics and live cell imaging

  • Ahn, Natalie (PI)
    Biofrontiers Institute, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, CU-Boulder
  • Palmer, Amy (Co-PI)
    Biofrontiers Institute, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, CU-Boulder

4-dimensional flow cardiac MRI for diagnosis of pulmonary hypertension

  • Fenster, Brett (PI)
    Division of Cardiology, National Jewish Health
  • Hertzberg, Jean (Co-PI)
    Department of Mechanical Engineering, CU-Boulder
  • Schroeder, Joyce (Co-PI)
    Department of Radiology, University of Colorado School of Medicine

Cardiac cell mechanobiology

  • Leinwand, Leslie (PI)
    Biofrontiers Institute, Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, CU-Boulder
  • Anseth, Kristi (Co-PI)
    Biofrontiers Institute, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, CU-Boulder

The Butcher Symposium began in 2002 as a grassroots effort to bring together scientists from across the CU system to create collaborations and share data. Butcher Seed Grants were awarded in 2002, 2005, 2007 and 2009 to fund potentially transformative new scientific pilot projects that required researchers with different expertise to work together to address critical challenges in the biosciences.

“The 2012 Butcher Seed Grant award winners really represent what we can achieve in the biosciences by using interdisciplinary approaches,” said Leslie Leinwand, Chief Scientific Officer at the Biofrontiers Institute. “By approaching human health challenges with the tools and minds of many types of scientists, we make a deeper impact in developing new solutions.”

In addition to the Butcher Seed Grants, additional funding was provided for one winning proposal under the Elliman Family Award in Collaborative Stem Cell Research. The awardee for the Elliman Family Award is:

Treatment of Lipoprotein Lipase (LPL) deficiency with induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technology

  • Eckel, Robert (PI)
    Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Diabetes; Division of Cardiology; Department of Medicine; Colorado Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
  • Olwin, Bradley (Co-PI)
    Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, CU-Boulder
  • Chen, Jiang (Co-PI)
    Department of Dermatology, Charles C. Gates Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Biology, CU Anschutz Medical Campus
  • Wang, Hong (Co-PI)
    Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Diabetes, CU Anschutz Medical Campus

In keeping with the tradition of previous Butcher Symposia, recipients of the 2009 Butcher Seed Grants presented the results of their research during the Butcher Symposium in November 2011. From developing new methods to measure the risk of premature birth to discovering the role of genetics in the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, their research represented fields as diverse as mechanical engineering, biochemistry and computer science—often in the same presentation—and included collaborators from several Colorado academic institutions.

The Butcher Program was founded through the generosity of long-time CU supporters Charlie and Jane Butcher, who saw the potential for “big picture” scientific thinking and creative cross-discipline research to transform lives. The seed grants were awarded this year thanks to continued support from the Butcher family, CU-Boulder and CU Anschutz Medical Center leaders, and the CU Office of the President.

In addition to supporting the symposium and the seed grants, their support established the Charlie Butcher Award in Biotechnology to recognize scientists from around the world who are using interdisciplinary science to make a significant impact on human welfare and health. The 2011 award went to Nobel Laureate, Rogen Tsien from the University of California, San Diego, who developed fluorescent proteins, which revolutionized imaging live cells.

For additional information on the Butcher Program and on Charlie and Jane Butcher, please visit: http://biofrontiers.colorado.edu/butcher

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