“1-2-3 GO” is off and running with seven teams selected to receive grants in the new funding program for researchers from the College of Medicine and other colleges at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) and in the University of Arkansas system.
The program provides rapid distribution of $75,000 in seed funding for interdisciplinary teams of three faculty members plus a student or trainee. The “GO” in the program’s name stands for grant opportunity, and “1-2-3” reflects the program’s aim of providing a fast, simple approach to obtain funding to bring new research ideas to life.
Seven project teams were selected in a random drawing of qualifying applications on March 12. Christopher T. Westfall, M.D., UAMS executive vice chancellor and College of Medicine dean, conducted the drawing with Nancy Rusch, Ph.D., executive associate dean for research in the college. They were joined by Shuk-Mei Ho, Ph.D., UAMS vice chancellor for research and innovation, and Nancy Gray, Ph.D., president of BioVentures, LLC.
For fun, Westfall pulled the winning names from a magician-style top hat.
“Congratulations to our inaugural 1-2-3 GO grant recipients,” Westfall said after the drawing. “The real magic will happen when these teams use their creativity and collaborative expertise to address research questions that could lead to significant discoveries, federal funding for additional studies, and potential commercialization of biomedical advances.”
1-2-3 GO was initiated in the College of Medicine by Richard P. Morrison, Ph.D., who served as executive associate dean for research prior to his retirement at the end of 2020. Rusch, who succeeded Morrison, completed development and launched the program in collaboration with Ho and Gray.
1-2-3 GO grants are supported with funding from the college, BioVentures, the UAMS Office of Research and Innovation, UA system campuses with faculty members receiving the grants, and philanthropic contributions.
“We received applications from 40 teams representing 120 faculty members and 12 departments from UAMS and the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville,” Rusch said, adding that the trainees on the proposed projects included medical and graduate students and postdoctoral and clinical fellows. “This strong response shows that our faculty are very willing to collaborate across disciplines to explore new research projects and share discoveries.”
Teams came together through the 1-2-3 GO website, where leaders posted project ideas and additional faculty were able to join the proposals. Applications were reviewed by Rusch’s office to ensure program criteria were met, and by BioVentures to confirm that the proposed research had the potential to generate intellectual property and lead to commercialization. Eighteen projects met those requirements and were included in the drawing for the first round of funding.
“One of the goals when we launched BioVentures, LLC four years ago was to establish funds from intellectual property revenue that could be re-invested in UAMS for the development of new intellectual property,” said Gray. “The 1-2-3 GO award is the first program to use those funds to generate new collaborative research that has this potential.”
1-2-3 GO team members will participate in BioVentures’ fastPACE course in April to help build skills in evaluating early-stage biomedical discoveries for commercialization potential.
As UAMS vice chancellor for research and innovation, Ho is working closely with her counterpart at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, John English, Ph.D., to build strong research collaborations across the two institutions.
“The 1-2-3 GO mechanism is an exciting opportunity to accelerate translation of research discoveries into marketable clinical practice,” Ho said. “One of the selected projects will be funded through the two vice chancellors’ offices, bringing together top clinical researchers in orthopaedics and biomedical engineering on a project to develop patentable interventions for osteoarthritis from Arkansas to benefit patients from across the nation and around the globe.”
The projects and teams selected to receive funding on April 1 are:
One-targeted Pyk2 inhibitors for prevention of bone fragility.
Teresita Bellido, Ph.D. (Project Lead): Dept. of Physiology and Cell Biology, UAMS
Alexei Basnakian, M.D., Ph.D.: Dept. of Pharmacology and Toxicology, UAMS
Hong-Yu Li, Ph.D.: Dept. of Pharmaceutical Sciences, UAMS
Amy Sato, Ph.D. (postdoctoral fellow): Dept. of Physiology and Cell Biology, UAMS
Improving accuracy of SpO2 in children with chronic hypoxemia by buccal reflectance pulse oximetry.
Destiny Chau, M.D. (Project Lead): Dept. of Anesthesiology, UAMS
Rupal Bhakta, M.D.: Dept. of Pediatrics, UAMS
Lawrence Greiten, M.D.: Dept. of Surgery, UAMS
Felipe Medeiros, M.D. (fellowship, cardiac anesthesia): Dept. of Anesthesiology, UAMS
Delineating dysbiosis-induced multimodal biomarker signatures to optimize precision medicine.
Ruud Dings, Ph.D., M.Sc. (Project Lead): Dept. of Radiation Oncology, UAMS
Renny Lan, Ph.D.: Dept. of Pediatrics, UAMS
Kimberly Stephens, Ph.D.: Dept. of Pediatrics, UAMS
Samir Jenkins, Ph.D. (postdoctoral fellow): Dept. of Radiation Oncology, UAMS
Development of an infection-resistant hemodialysis access graft.
Kalenda Kasangana, M.D. (Project Lead): Dept. of Surgery, UAMS
Kevin Sexton, M.D.: Dept of Surgery, UAMS
Mark Smeltzer, Ph.D.: Dept. of Microbiology and Immunology, UAMS
Astha Malhotra, Ph.D. (postdoctoral fellow): Dept. of Pharmacology and Toxicology, UAMS
Improving arterial bleeding cessation by modulating thrombus formation.
Sung Rhee, Ph.D. (Project Lead): Dept. of Pharmacology and Toxicology, UAMS
Avi Bhavaraju, M.D.: Dept. of Surgery, UAMS
Jerry Ware, Ph.D.: Dept. of Physiology and Cell Biology, UAMS
Hunter Rose (medical student): UAMS
Epigenetic modulation of mesenchymal stem cells as therapeutic interventions for osteoarthritis.
Rebekah Samsonraj, Ph.D. (Project Lead): Dept. of Biomedical Engineering, UA Fayetteville
Lowry Barnes, M.D.: Dept. of Orthopaedic Surgery, UAMS
Ryan Porter, M.D.: Dept. of Internal Medicine, UAMS
Luke Childress (graduate student): Dept. of Physiology and Cell Biology, UAMS
Monoclonal antibody internalization rates as diagnostic indicators for the immunotherapy of cancer.
Alan Tackett, Ph.D. (Project Lead): Dept. of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, UAMS
Yong-Chen Lu, Ph.D.: Dept. of Pathology, UAMS
Ginell Post, M.D., Ph.D.: Dept. of Pathology, UAMS
Brian Koss, Ph.D. (postdoctoral fellow): Dept. of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, UAMS