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Pilots Projects Awards

UC San Diego Altman Clinical and Translational Research Institute (ACTRI) supports Pilot Projects that help fulfill the ACTRI mission of developing clinical and translational research. Pilot Project Grants are one-year competitive awards (up to $30,000) to provide funding for early stage projects. Pilot Projects are available to all ACTRI members with faculty appointments; funding priority is given to early-career faculty.

The 2024 request for applications is now open, with a first stage submission deadline of November 13, 2023 @ 5:00 P.M (PST)

Available Funding Categories:

  • Clinical and Translational Research (up to $30,000)

Application Deadline, Notices of Awards, and Funding Cycle

Clinical and Translational Research

  • First Stage Application Deadline: Monday, November 13, 2023 @ 5:00 P.M. (PST)
  • Second Stage, by invitation only: Notification of invitation anticipated mid-January 2024 
  • Second Stage Application Deadline: Monday, February 26, 2024 @ 5:00 P.M. (PST)   
  • Notice of Awards: late March 2024
  • Funding Cycle: May 1, 2024 – April, 2025

Apply Here

Please email Murray Stein MD, MPH or call (858) 534-6451; or Kathleen Kennedy or call (858) 822-0268 with any questions about this RFA or the application process. 

Clinical and Translational Research Funding

Clinical and Translational Research (up to $30,000)

Clinical Research is conducted with human subjects or on material collected from humans, in order to broaden knowledge about mechanisms of disease, therapeutic interventions, or clinical trials, or to develop new technology. Clinical research also includes epidemiological and observational studies, behavioral studies, community interventions, and research on outcomes and health services. Translational Research projects are focused on applying basic research discoveries to the understanding of human disease pathogenesis or development of novel diagnostics or treatment modalities, including cell-based and other pre-clinical models.

Application and Evaluation


Application and Evaluation for Clinical and Translational Research Pilots

Applications are received in two stages. Stage 1 applications are open.  Apply Here

  1. The first stage requires a 500-word abstract that will be scored.
  2. The second stage is by invitation only based on review of the 500-word abstract. A five-page application is required, which will be scored according to modified NIH 9-point scoring guidelines that emphasize the future external funding potential of the investigator(s) and the project. Please submit your IRB application at the same time as submission of your second-stage application. We will require evidence that your application is slated for IRB review prior to ACTRI scientific review; if this is not available your application will be withdrawn for consideration during that cycle.
  • Eligibility and Project Requirements
  • Priority will be given to junior full-time faculty proposing collaborative projects.
  • Postdoctoral Fellows and Project Scientists are not eligible.
  • Principal Investigators for these pilot awards must be members of the ACTRI. Applicants may join the ACTRI shortly before submission and still be eligible.
  • Principal Investigators must be full-time faculty members at UC San Diego or one of the UC San Diego partner institutions including Salk Institute, Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, J. Craig Venter Institute, La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology, Rady Children's Hospital, and Palomar Pomerado Health.
  • Previous awardees are not eligible to reapply for one year.
  • Only one pilot proposal may be submitted by a Principal Investigator per funding category.
  • Full professors are NOT eligible to be Principal Investigators unless they are entering a new line of research. Proposals cannot overlap with or be a logical extension of ongoing research. In general, proposals from full professors who have greater than $350,000/year in current funding will receive lower priority.

All investigators selected for funding will be required to submit a six-month progress report (including an in-person presentation) and a one-year Final Progress Report at the end of the funded project. An additional report one year later will also be required. This report will consist of a detailed description of progress to date and a listing of all submitted publications and grant applications (pending or funded), meeting abstracts and seminars relating to the pilot project.

Evaluation Criteria

Applications should be well-written, precise, and succinct. Applications will be subject to both scientific and programmatic review. The following criteria will be used in evaluating these proposals:

  1. Significance of the research and its translational relevance
  2. Scientific quality
  3. Feasibility to complete the project in one year
  4. Probability that the work will yield important new information, technology, or service and/or yield new federal funding
  5. Qualifications of the Principal Investigator and collaborators and inclusion of multidisciplinary team members

How To Apply

How to Apply for Stage 1

  1. 500-word abstract
  2. NIH biographical sketches, including other support with yearly direct costs, for the significant participants
  3. The abstract page from all ongoing funded and pending research proposals

How to Apply for Stage 2

Stage 2 applications are by invitation only based on scores received for Stage 1 applications.

  1. Five-page proposal description should follow NIH proposal criteria:
    1. Specific Aims
    2. Background and significance
    3. Preliminary studies (if applicable)
    4. Research design and methods
    5. Literature cited (not included in the five-page limit)
  2. A detailed budget with budget justification. All guidelines pertaining to allowable expenses on federal grants will be applicable for these awards. In addition, no funding will be provided for travel, clerical help, office supplies, books and subscriptions, graduate student support and tuition remission, or publication expenses. If equipment is budgeted, it will need a thorough justification. As a reminder, these are pilot projects to obtain preliminary data.
  3. IRB applications must be submitted at the same time as the Stage 2 submission, and should provide evidence of IRB (HRPP) pending review (e.g., HRPP # for the project).
  4. Paragraph on community relevance (maximum 100 words) that includes the project title and is understandable at an eighth-grade reading level (non-scientist level reviewer). Paragraph should answer the following question, "How important is funding this research to improving human health, either in the near or distant future?" Do not include your name, as this paragraph will get a blinded review.

Applications should adhere to the following formatting specifications:

  • 11‐point Arial font
  • Single‐spaced
  • 0.5 inch margins on all sides
  • 8 ½" x 11" (i.e. standard size) paper
  • Number all pages
  • No appendices are allowed

How to Submit your Application:

The application is available online here

You must register as an applicant. Do this at least a week prior to the submission deadline. You will be sent an email notifying you of your username and password after you register.


Current Awardees

UC San Diego Altman Clinical and Translational Research Institute (ACTRI) announces the selection of 18 Pilot Project grant awardees for 2021. Pilot Project grants are one-year competitive cash awards for researchers to obtain preliminary data. Funding priority is given to junior faculty members. 

Funding Period is 2021 through 2022 [pending IRB approval]. “Subject to NIH/NCATS Approval”

Clinical and Translational

PI: Marianna Alperin, MD

UC San Diego Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences

Title: MOTHER: Maternal Outcomes Transformed by Harnessing Endogenous Regeneration

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This project will be carried out in collaboration with Karen L. Christman, PhD – a biomaterials expert.

Motherhood is one of the riskiest ventures in women's lifetime. The U.S. has one of the highestmaternal mortality (MM) in the developed world and severe maternal morbidities (SMM) have increased 200% over the past 20 years. The leading causes of MM and SMM are 1) abnormal placentation, more commonly observed in African-American compared to Caucasian women, and 2) uterine rupture. These conditions are strongly associated with prior surgery which causes uterine scarring. Millions of primary cesarean sections (CS) are performed annually in the U.S, accounting for ~25% of all deliveries. Moreover, many women undergo multiple CSs, which dramatically increases the risk of abnormal placentation and uterine rupture. 

Currently, clinical and scientific efforts are limited to early detection of abnormal placentation or uterine rupture to enable timely deployment of significant resources to reduce MM and neonatal morbidity. We propose to prevent abnormal placentation and uterine rupture by harnessing the endogenous regenerative potential of the uterus through the delivery of biomaterials to the uterus at the time of a surgical insult. A minimally invasive therapy that promotes restoration of normal endometrial and myometrial architecture, leading to normal placentation and preservation of myometrial mechanical strength in subsequent pregnancies, is desperately needed and on the top of every obstetrician's wish list. There is a critical need for innovative strategies to prevent maladaptive uterine recovery following surgical insult. At the completion of these pilot work we will be well poised to pursue larger studies of our unprecedented approach to counteract the leading causes of MM and SMM through exploring the mechanisms underlying maladaptive uterine remodeling following Cesarean section and determining the role of a novel regenerative therapy as a preventative measure for abnormal placentation and uterine rupture. 

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PI: Lawrence Ang, MD

UC San Diego Departments of Medicine and Cardiology

Title: Early Validation of a Novel Hemodynamic Analysis System


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PI: Saima Aslam, MD, PhD 

UC San Diego Department of Medicine

Title: Prevention of Transmission of Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) from HCV-Viremic Organ Donor to HCV-Negative Organ Transplant

Last year 18 people died daily while waiting for a life-saving organ transplant due to a national shortage in deceased donors. One way to reduce this shortage is to accept organs from donors with hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. At our center we use such organs for transplant but treat the recipient with 12 weeks of HCV medication about a month or so following transplant. Sometimes, this can lead to adverse events and so such donors are not routinely used at all centers.
In this study, we plan to enroll 10 patients that receive a heart, lung, or kidney transplant from an HCV positive donor and start them on a short 1-week course of HCV medication immediately in the surgical period with the goal of preventing HCV transmission to the transplant recipient.
We hope that successful results from this small study will lead to larger studies and universal use of HCV-infected donors for life-saving transplant while preventing HCV transmission to the recipient and thus avoiding adverse events related to HCV infection.

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PI: Xu Chen, PhD

UC San Diego Department of Neurosciences

Title: Exploring the Role of Testosterone in Regulation of Tau Pathogenesis

Alzheimer's disease (AD) and other tau-mediated neurodegenerative diseases such as frontotemporal dementia are characterized by aggregation and spread of pathological tau protein in the brain. Despite decades of research, effective interventions to these diseases are still lacking. It is well-evidenced that women typically show greater tau pathology than men on the AD trajectory; yet the reason for such sex differences is poorly understood. A better understanding of the mechanisms underlying the greater tau deposition in women can benefit all by informing causal pathways of disease and therapeutic targets and strategies that are optimal for each sex. Recent clinical evidence suggests that low testosterone levels correlate with poorer cognitive function and greater risk for AD. In particular, our recent work in the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) revealed that women with lower testosterone tend to have higher levels of phosphorylated tau (p-tau) in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), particularly among female APOE4 carriers. This suggest that lower testosterone levels that typically characterize women may predispose them to pathological tau, and contribute to sex differences observed in AD. Here we propose to take these correlative findings to the necessary next step, to establish the causal relationship between testosterone and tau, and to explore the clinical applicability of testosterone therapy. Towards this goal, this pilot, translatable project aims to determine the direct impact of testosterone levels on tau pathogenicity in a sex-specific way. Given testosterone's anti-inflammatory actions and protective effect on AD-related outcomes, we hypothesize that pharmacological induction of high testosterone protects against tau spreading, diminishes neuroinflammation and ameliorates cognitive deficits associated with tau pathogenesis, particularly in females. In collaboration with Dr. Mellon, a renowned expert on sex hormones and reproductive biology, we will elucidate how manipulation of testosterone levels affects tau pathogenesis in females versus males, using different hormonal treatment paradigms in tau transgenic mouse models with and without APOE4 knock-in. This project aims to combine our expertise in tau biology, hormone and animal models, to close critical gaps in our understanding of mechanisms underlying sex differences in tau pathogenicity. Moreover, it will provide a proof-of-principle for hormone-based therapy, particularly in females. Results from the proposed pilot research will form the foundation of an R01 application, the goal of which will be to further elucidate the molecular mechanism(s) underlying the connection of sex hormones and tau, and to devise risk reduction strategies that influence these mechanisms. 

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PI: Jacqueline Greene, MD

UC San Diego Department of Surgery

Title: Tracking Facial Nerve Regeneration through an Automated Remote Facial Analysis Mobile Device Platform

This project will be carried out in collaboration with residents Dr. Benjamin Ostrander and Dr. Kayva Crawford. 

Significance: The process of nerve regeneration across the site of injury to distal neuromuscular junctions and recovery of movement can be difficult to assess clinically and may take months to years to complete. For patients with facial nerve injuries causing facial paralysis, the wait for return of facial function and the resulting vision risk from poor eye closure, difficulty speaking and eating from flaccid oral sphincter muscles, as well as the psychological morbidity from the inability to smile or express emotions through facial movement can be devastating. Assessment of facial functional recovery is clinician-based and is limited by the logistics of coordinating clinic visits for standardized photo- and video documentation. Unfortunately, there is no laboratory test or current imaging method to definitively assess if neural regeneration and muscle reinnervation is occurring or if the nerve and muscle are simply undergoing atrophy; ultrasound assessments of muscle thickness have been reported but have limited value in predicting ultimate functional outcomes. Electrophysiologic testing such as needle electromyography is invasive and may be uncomfortable for patients for facial palsy and evidence of denervation changes are often captured at a timepoint late in the allowable timeframe for a salvage facial reanimation surgery such as a nerve transfer. A more precise evaluation of facial function across more timepoints than typical clinic visits allow would facilitate a better understanding of the sometimes subtle onset of facial nerve recovery and improve guidance for facial nerve surgeons. 

Innovation: Recent advances in machine learning techniques with the application Emotrics (Guarin et al, 2018) have made automatic localization of facial landmarks and rapid quantification of facial features feasible from facial photographs. Emotrics is an open-source platform developed at the Massachusetts Eye & Ear Institute (Harvard University) that can automatically quantify facial function and adjust for subtle head tilt, camera or patient movement, as well as facial palsy asymmetry. Emotrics has been used to correlate oral commissure excursion with perceived emotion following smile reanimation surgery(Dusseldorp et al, 2018) and to assess outcomes of eyelid weight placement for lagopthalmos(Greene et al, 2019). We propose developing a mobile device application to enable patients to take high-quality photography and ideography of their facial function and undergo automated facial analysis measurements would significantly advance current assessment of facial nerve recovery. 

Approach: We are in the early stages of developing a mobile application based platform for remote photography and ideography for facial analysis with Emotrics in collaboration with members of the UCSD Bioengineering department. Critical parameters for facial photography and ideography must be automated to facilitate data of sufficient quality (at least 1 megapixel with at least 1 iris visible) and lighting and will be tested against the Emotrics program. The ACTRI Pilot grant would greatly accelerate our developmental progress and bringing this concept to clinical application at the UCSD Facial Nerve Center and provide pilot data for external funding.

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PI: Katia Harlé, PhD

UC San Diego Department of Psychiatry

Title: Computationally informed assessment of motivated inhibitory control to better understand psychopathology

Problems with impulsive behaviors are common to many mental health disorders. Impulsive behaviors often make mental health and alcohol/drug addiction symptoms worse. They can increase the chance of self-harm and suicide. It is important to understand how the brain manages the ability to stop impulsive behavior. It is also important to learn how this ability is influenced by feedback and emotions, so that we can train individuals to better control impulsive behavior.

Our study plans to address these questions. We will use a mathematical model to assess how individuals learn to stop impulsive behavior. Brain activity and attention will be measured to assess how the brain learns to control impulsive behavior. We will measure how positive and negative feedback changes impulsive behavior. We will also measure how positive and negative emotions alter this ability. Our study could identify new ways to help and protect individuals having problems with a wide range of mental health disorders.

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PI: Jesse Jokerst, PhD

UC San Diego Department of NanoEngineering

Title: Improved Oral Health via Acoustic Imaging 

Dental health is critical to quality of life, but the tools that periodontists use to inspect the oral cavity have largely remained unchanged for the last 75 years resulting in over- and under-diagnosis of periodontal disease. This work will build an ultrasound-based imaging device to assess pocket depths and identify periodontal disease easily, earlier, and more accurately. The imaging approach will image the entire pocket and be less variable than existing methods—this will improve quality of life for dental patients. 

PI: Olivia Osborn, PhD

UC San Diego Department of Medicine

Title: The role of adipose tissue as a secretory organ in the development and treatment of Anorexia

AN in a complex disease with a high mortality rate, limited treatment options and exceptionally high relapse rate. Its primary features include abnormal feeding behavior and a low body weight and primarily affects females. No approved pharmacological treatments for AN exist, and cognitive treatments focus on changing patients' behavior to promote weight gain. Recent findings suggest that a substantial metabolic component underlies AN and may work against weight gain. Furthermore, we made the recent discovery that adipose tissue has a 'metabolic memory' and many of the signals that are perturbed by changes in body weight persist, even after weight loss. In preliminary work foundational to this proposal, we show that transplanting adipose tissue from obese mice into normal mice protects the recipient mice from developing the extreme weight loss induced by scheduled fasting compared to control mice transplanted with equivalent number of adipose derived cells from lean mice. Our central hypothesis is adipose tissue is a key driver of anorexia and harbors molecular signals that signal to the brain to modulate food intake behavior and energy metabolism. Guided by strong preliminary data, our central hypothesis will be tested by pursuing two specific aims: SA1a. Determine the molecular signature in adipose tissue that protects mice from anorexia. Our preliminary data established that adipose tissue harbors key signals that regulate energy metabolism and can protect from the development of anorexia-like symptoms. We hypothesize that adipose tissue transplant from high fat diet (HFD) fed mice will protect against scheduled fasting-induced weight loss by increasing caloric intake with no changes in energy expenditure. Approach: We will conduct in depth metabolic phenotype analysis to assess the impact of adipose tissue transplant from HFD-fed obese wild type (WT) mice compared with control adipose tissue from normal chow fed mice. We will conduct RNA-seq analysis of the transplanted adipose tissue to gain insights into the molecular signature driving changes in body weight. SA1b. Determine the metabolic memory of adipose tissue that encourages recidivism to an anorexic state. AN patients often relapse to a lower body weight, and it is speculated that high leptin levels represent a counter-regulation predisposing to renewed weight loss. For example, leptin levels are higher in AN patients at target weight than in healthy controls after adjustment for BMI and percent body fat. We hypothesize that adipose tissue harbors a metabolic memory that drives recidivism to AN. Approach. We will conduct RNA seq and ATAC seq analysis of the adipose tissue from mice exposed to scheduled fasting (AN-like mice), formerly AN-like mice, and control ad libitum fed mice to identify persistent AN-induced gene expression changes and open chromatin regions of adipose tissue that drive recidivism to the AN-like state. This collaborative proposal between Osborn and Dulawa labs will combine our complimentary expertise in metabolism and psychiatry to assess essential underlying pathways that contribute to AN disease pathogenesis with the strong potential to identify future treatment strategies. 

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PI: Matthew Shtrahman, MD, PhD

UC San Diego Department of Neurosciences

Title: Investigating the Role of Adeno-Associated Virus (AAV) in the Pathogenesis of Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a rampant age-related dementia of unknown etiology characterized by neuronal loss, brain atrophy, and aggregation of beta amyloid (Aβ) and microtubule associated tau proteins in the brain.  While deposition of these proteins is thought to play an important role in the pathogenesis of AD, the presence of these aggregates is not sufficient to cause AD - both humans and experimental animal models can exhibit one or both of these neuropathological changes without cognitive impairment. In addition, multiple clinical trials investigating treatments that substantially reduce the accumulation of these proteins show no significant effect on the progression or symptoms of AD. Thus, there has been increasing effort to identify other risk factors, including infectious viral agents, that together with protein aggregation could fully explain the etiology of this multifactorial disease. 

We recently reported that recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV), which is used widely throughout experimental biology and human gene therapy, kills neural progenitor cells in the mouse hippocampus and ablates adult neurogenesis. This process is also markedly diminished in patients with AD. In addition, our preliminary studies indicate that rAAV infection in the mouse hippocampus results in AD-like pathology months after infection. Motivated by these findings, we will investigate rAAV as a model system to explore viral-induced neurodegenerative changes, deposition of Aβ and pathological tau, and deficits in learning and memory. 

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PI: Gabriel Wardi, MD

UC San Diego Department of Emergency Medicine

Title: Development and Implementation of a Real Time Machine Learning Algorithm to Predict Tracheal Intubation in Patients with COVID19

Significance: The novel coronavirus 19 (COVID19) pandemic has strained global healthcare systems due to a surge of critically ill patients with acute respiratory failure. Published data have shown a large number of these patients require intensive care unit (ICU) transfer and mechanical ventilation at least a week into their hospital stay. We currently lack any meaningful method to determine which patients will deteriorate and require mechanical ventilation. The need for accurate prognostication of the need for mechanical ventilation is thus important for multiple reasons. First, early identification and increased situational awareness of such patients allows for safe tracheal intubation and initiation of mechanical ventilation. Second, accurate predictions of the need for mechanical ventilators allows appropriate allocation of staff and resources. 

Innovation: Our team recently developed VentNet, a machine learning (ML) algorithm that predicts the need for mechanical ventilation at least 24 hours ahead of time for ICU patients. VentNet was created using data from over 30,000 patients with acute respiratory failure at UC San Diego and Massachusetts General Hospital and then validated on over 300 COVID19 patients. VentNet had an outstanding AUC (>0.9) for predicting tracheal intubation in ICU patients and maintained excellent test characteristics in the patients with COVID19, outperforming current models. The innovation in this project is thus: 1) to provide improvements in the development of VentNet and validate it?s use across all levels of care in the hospital and 2) develop and effective approach for implementation. Prior ML algorithms have been hampered by poor implementation techniques limiting their effectiveness and generating frustration with the end-user. 

Approach: As we have already developed an ML algorithm from a large dataset to predict respiratory failure in ICU patients, we have 3 specific goals with the ultimate objective of using this approach to formulate a K grant: Specific Aim #1: Retrospective validation of VentNet for patients in the hospital wards. We have already shown that our algorithm performs very well in patients already admitted to the ICU but have not yet validated VentNet in the hospital wards. Specific Aim #2: Real-time implementation of VentNet and accompanying software packages in the emergency department, hospital wards and intensive care units across UC San Diego to predict need for mechanical ventilation at varying prediction windows. Specific Aim #3: Perform a 3-month pilot implementation study of VentNet in collaboration with the dissemination and implementation specialists at UC San Diego. 

Our overall hypothesis is that effective implementation of VentNet may improve provide decision making regarding the timing of tracheal intubation. 

Likelihood of the Pilot Project leading to future grants and external funding: Dr. Wardi is actively working to pursue a K grant and looking at implementation of real-time analytics for a variety of conditions. Background data and skills obtained from 

Life Course

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PI: Kiyomi Tsuyuki, PhD

UC San Diego Department of Medicine

Title: Discrimination, Trauma, and Violence in Mental Health among Black Women: Identifying the roles of stress, inflammation, social support and resilience in mental health disparities

Mental health disparities in the United States (US) are persistent among women, especially women of color. Black women disproportionately suffer from violence and its subsequent mental health outcomes. Despite growing attention to the role of discrimination and gender-based violence in poor mental health outcomes of Black women, a paucity of studies have examined this overlap, and even fewer studies consider how social support and resilience can mitigate the negative effects of discrimination and trauma. 
This pilot aims to examine the associations between trauma (discrimination, adverse childhood experiences [ACEs], gender-based violence) and mental health (e.g., depression, PTSD, suicidal ideation) among Black women, with particular attention to the mediating and moderating effects of stress, social support, and resilience. One mechanistic hypothesis posits that social adversity programs biological systems in a manner that persists across decades to accentuate vulnerability to disease across the life course, in a process called biological embedding. Trauma and violence may cause alterations in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and the autonomic stress response, enhancing resistance to glucocorticoids and increasing production of pro-inflammatory cytokines. These HPA axis alterations (i.e., pituitary hyper-responsiveness to CRH, reduced glucocorticoid receptor sensitivity) are thought to contribute to an increased risk of mental health conditions among adults who experience trauma and abuse. However, studies of discrimination, stress and inflammation, social support and resilience, and mental health among women, in particular Black women, are very limited. 
This pilot proposes a secondary data analysis of the ESSENCE Project data (R01 HD077891; PI: Stockman), a retrospective cohort study among (n=315) Black women sampled from STD clinics in Baltimore, MD. ESSENCE is a collaboration between Johns Hopkins University and UCSD, with rich measures of measures of trauma (i.e., discrimination, ACEs, gender-based violence), mental health (i.e., depression, PTSD, suicidal ideation), and salivary biomarkers of stress and inflammation (i.e., cortisol awakening response [CAR] and C-reactive protein). In addition, we propose to assay archived saliva samples for IL-6 and TNF-α, additional markers of inflammation. We will estimate mediation and moderation models to test our hypotheses that: 1) Increasing exposure to trauma will confer greater risk for mental health conditions (e.g., depression, PTSD, suicidal ideation); 2) stress response (e.g., cortisol awakening response), inflammation (e.g., CAR, C-reactive protein, IL-6, TNF-α), social support, and resilience will mediate and moderate this association. The proposed significant and innovative research will provide novel information on the life course effects of trauma on mental health among Black women survivors of violence. This pilot will provide preliminary data for an NIH R01 to collect cohort data to understand the extent and magnitude of trauma and stress and coping on mental health among Black women across the life span. 


PI: Catherine Ayers, PhD

Co-PIs: Charles Taylor, PhD and Ellen Lee, MD

UC San Diego Department of Psychiatry

Community Partner Co-I: Velia Gitari, MA, Program Manager, Elder Multicultural Access and Support Program, Union of Pan Asian Communities             

Title: Supporting Older Communities in Active Living (SOCIAL)

Loneliness is a global epidemic that has been linked with poor physical and mental health outcomes and a significant reduction in lifespan. Loneliness and social isolation are common in older adults, and especially in adults over the age of 80.The adverse effects of social isolation are particularly detrimental for seniors coping with mental illness or who experience functional impairment due to medical illness, financial strains, and reduced mobility. While technology can be harnessed to reduce social isolation and loneliness among older adults, older adults are often limited in their ability to utilize technology effectively and for connecting socially. Despite the need for robust loneliness interventions for older adults, the existing literature highlights a need for an intervention with a strong theoretical framework, appropriate assessment of outcomes, a specific target population, and that is potentially scalable and sustainable. 
We propose a transdiagnostic intervention that will integrate evidence-based practices (EBPs) to address loneliness in older adults, improve mental and physical health outcomes, and increase access to services by facilitating older adults’ pursuit of meaningful social activities (Positive Activity Intervention or PAI) and teaching them how to use modern technology to connect with others. The program will use tele-mental- health (TMH) video technology to increase access to services for older adults who are housebound or isolated due to COVID-19. 

The Union of Pan Asian Communities' Elder Multicultural Access and Support Services (EMASS) program serves Iraqi, Chaldean, Filipino, African American, Somali and Latinx seniors (60 years and over) with outreach, engagement and education for prevention and early intervention of mental illness and mental health challenges.

PI: Tommi Gaines, Dr, PH

Co-PI: Peter Davidson, PhD

UC San Diego Department of Medicine

Community Partner Co-I: Daniel Ddomaguin, Behavioral Health Community Manager, California Rural Indian Health Board

Title: Evaluating Online Opioid Prevention Training for California American Indians

American Indian communities have been greatly affected by the opioid epidemic with many communities being overwhelmed by opioid use, overdose, and opioid overdose mortality. The rate of drug overdose deaths among American Indians has persistently exceeded the national average and recent data show this trend continuing.  The purpose of this study is to evaluate the acceptability and feasibility of an online training within California Tribes while developing tribal-academic partnerships to support future research addressing the sustainability and scalability of an online opioid overdose prevention training for American Indians. 

Our specific aims are: 
AIM 1: Foster partnerships with California tribal stakeholders and develop a collaborative research infrastructure to support opioid overdose prevention with California Tribes.  Leverage the California Rural Indian Health Board (CRIHB) membership network to identify tribal stakeholders and resources needed (i.e., staffing, community advisory boards, workshops, and office space) to support tribal-academic research partnershipsaddressing opioid overdose prevention.
AIM 2: Assess acceptability and feasibility of online overdose prevention education and naloxone distribution for people living and working within California Tribes and reservations.  This aim will be addressed using both qualitative interviews and pre-post quantitative surveys: A) Conduct key informant interviews with tribal stakeholders (n=10) to identify logistical barriers and facilitators to implementing and sustaining an online opioid prevention training program within their respective tribe/reservation; and  B) Survey n=40 individuals participating in the CRIHB online opioid prevention training to assess pre- and post-training knowledge and willingness to administer naloxone

Dissemination and Implementation Research Pilot Projectheadshot of a woman with medium length curly hair wearing a black v-neck blouse

PI: Rebecca Fielding-Miller, PhD

UC San Diego School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science

Community Partner: Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans and the Chicano Federation

Title: Toolkit to rapid engage diverse communities for improved uptake of COVID-19 Diagnostic Testing

Vulnerable communities are hit hardest with COVID-19 due to extreme health disparities. Individuals from vulnerable communities represent a diversity of lived experiences, cultures and health behaviors. This diversity within vulnerable communities calls for a need to tailor health interventions so that the community is respected and their needs are met. However, the rapidly acceleration of COVID-19 infections across the U.S. makes it necessary to design rapid roll out of health interventions aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19. The goals of this project are: 1. To find similarities and unique needs across the underserved communities in San Diego, particularly Hispanics, Latinos, East African, Syrian
and Karen communities 3. To examine concerns individuals from these communities have about a COVID-19 vaccine, and barriers individuals face in getting testing. 3. To develop a toolkit and COVID-19 testing and vaccination logic model that outlines ways to improve access to and acceptability of COVID-19 testing and vaccine uptake among particular vulnerable and undeserved communities. We will present an initial proposed toolkit and testing logic model to 10 influential community members (i.e.,county health officers, health systems administrators, community organizers and health advocates) who would hypothetically be tasked with developing a community-specific COVID-19 vaccination and diagnostic testing plan.
The project will consist of doing surveys with individual community members and focus group discussions. The toolkit will be developed based on the information gained from talking to individuals from the community during the interviews and focus groups. The toolkit will be disseminated to our partner organizations, community leaders, county officials and others. The toolkit will be used to assist in bringing COVID-19 testing and vaccines to the communities that most need it, to address some of the barriers faced, and to help better understand vaccine hesitancy among individuals from vulnerable communities.
This project is a collaboration with the Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans (PANA), the Chicano Federation, and the University of California, San Diego. The investigator of this project has previously worked with these community partners on past research projects and established a strong working relationship. Individuals from PANA and the Chicano Federation and other interested individuals will serve as Community Advisory Board members to guide the direction of, provide feedback on and advise on the project.
Funding of this project will ensure that vulnerable community voices are not lost in the discussion on COVID-19 testing and vaccine roll out. This project includes the community in developing a strategy and a toolkit for bring COVID-19 testing to communities that need it most and addressing vaccine hesitancy. This project will contribute a much-needed toolkit for rapid, community-engaged formative research. The tool kit can be rapidly deployed to enhance the implementation of culturally sensitive COVID-19 diagnostic testing and vaccine uptake across a range of vulnerable and underserved communities in the United States.

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PI: Ryan Moran, MD, MPH

UC San Diego Department of Family Medicine

Title: The Stopping Elderly Accidents, Deaths and Injuries (STEADI) toolkit

Community Partners : San Diego County Aging & Independence Services (AIS). We have a long history of partnering with AIS, which is the federally designated Area Agency on Aging in San Diego County. Currently there are 31 senior centers across the county that host structured, instructor-led exercise classes specifically for older adults. (Currently, due to COVID-19, in-person classes have converted to a virtual format.) This program is called Feeling Fit. Instructors are experienced professionals with expertise in geriatric exercise with a primary focus on improving physical function and preventing falls. 

The Exercise and Physical Activity Resource Center (EPARC), within the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health, will also provide virtual group instruction on exercise specific to fall prevention, including balance and mobility, strength, and postural control training. Both the AIS and EPARC programs are modifications of the FallProof™ program, an evidence-based program based on principles of motor learning and exercise physiology, which has widespread use in geriatric exercise programs throughout the U.S. and Canada. 

Both AIS and EPARC offer Zoom based virtual classes twice weekly; AIS on a year-round basis, while EPARC’s program is 12 weeks long, but can be repeated. The EPARC program, which limits enrollment in some classes to 6-8 individuals, includes an instructor assistant whose responsibility is to observe participants and correct poor technique in real time, as instruction continues with the group. AIS classes are typically much larger and have a single instructor, therefore, when possible, individuals with multiple limitations and a higher risk profile will be first referred to the EPARC 12-week program, with the goal of moving to an AIS class after 12 weeks. 

Individuals at greater than moderate risk, or with recommendation by their physician, will be referred initially to physical therapy, again with the goal that many of these patients will progress to participating in group classes, if desired, or be safe to practice recommended exercises on their own. 

Relevance: Fall risk screening coupled with referral for follow-up based on individual risk status will help close the existing gap in our current system in which many patients who have fallen or will likely fall have been overlooked. We have designed screening and referral procedures that can be implemented fairly quickly and with minimal patient and provider burden to produce affordable clinical support programs with much potential to prevent falls and consequent injury. 

Moreover, because virtually-delivered exercise classes have the potential to reach diverse communities across San Diego County - as the in-person AIS program had been doing for nearly 20 years - and are offered at no cost to older adults, our screening and referral proposal has the potential to reach across the demographic spectrum of race/ethnicity and socio-economic status to increase the number of minority and low income older adults who are screened and receive follow-up care. Thus, the program has potential to reduce the public health burden of fall-related disability among all older adults. If found successful, this approach may prove to be cost-effective, accepted by participants, and sustainable. While we acknowledge that many patients who undergo screening through the proposed fall risk clinic may not be interested or able to participate in a community exercise program, having AIS and EPARC as community partners provides a seamless referral system to a targeted exercise program for fall prevention available to older adults throughout the county. 

headshot of a woman with short curly hair wearing a turtleneck shirt

PI: Barbara Parry, MD

UC San Diego Department of Psychiatry

Community Partner: County of San Diego HHSA Public Health

Title: Accessible Depression and Anxiety Peripartum Treatment (ADAPT)

Summary: The study will take place in women’s homes in coordination with the San Diego County ADAPT program. The hybrid pilot study focuses on generating both 1) implementation data regarding intervention acceptability and feasibility of achieving high fidelity when provided in the context of a community-based program as well as 2) effectiveness data assessing the extent to which reduced depression and anxiety are achievable with community-based behavioral health clinicians. The intervention will provide evidence-based treatment for mood and sleep dysfunction in 1) pregnant women previously shown to have phase-advanced (shifted earlier) circadian rhythm disturbances, using a phase-delay intervention (PDI): with, 2) postpartum women with previously demonstrated phase-delayed (shifted later) circadian rhythm disturbances using a phase-advance intervention (PAI), for 2 weeks with one month follow-up. 

Partnering with the community: The UCSD laboratory of Barbara L. Parry, MD, who has developed sleep and light treatments for women with mood and sleep disturbances during pregnancy and after delivery, will partner with the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) Behavioral Health Services project entitled, Accessible Depression and Anxiety Peripartum Treatment (ADAPT). The ADAPT program seeks to develop accessible depression and anxiety peripartum treatments in the community for underserved populations in conjunction with the Nurse Family Partnership and HHSA Maternal Child Health Home Visiting Programs. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, this program has been remarkably successful over the last year in educating community health care professionals in identifying, managing and referring symptomatic patients to appropriate treatment modalities. Applying Dr. Parry’s work in this setting could provide an affordable, rapid acting (within 2 weeks), non-drug treatment with minimal side effects, using critically-timed sleep and light interventions in this population. This partnership could offer underserved community peripartum women and their providers with alternative treatments for mood and sleep disturbances, disseminating information and training to practitioners (currently limited in the community), implementing new treatments, and addressing the effectiveness of sleep and light interventions for future research.

Short term and long-term impact: Short term, the project would enhance identification, management and treatment of peripartum mood and sleep dysfunction in underserved San Diego communities. Longer term, this study will provide a foundation for understanding whether (and how best) to feasibly have community-based therapists administer the intervention and integrate it into their regular services. An effective low cost, short term intervention that reduces depression and anxiety among mothers that is feasibly administered by community-based therapists has the potential for widespread dissemination and the reduction of many negative outcomes for women and children locally, nationally, and internationally. Impaired maternal function can harm fetal and child neurodevelopment. Left untreated, such dysfunction may develop into a depressive disorder, the most common peripartum complication affecting 1/7 women with debilitating effects on the mother, her child, family and society, deter infant growth, physical health, neurocognitive and psychosocial development and primary education, increase risks for child autism, and lead to infanticide or suicide. Poor sleep quality experienced by > 75% of pregnant women predicts peripartum depression, its relapse, metabolic and cardiovascular disease and suicide risk. Prevention strategies are needed as children of depressed mothers develop more medical and psychiatric illness and depression -- the largest predictor of substance use during pregnancy. Economic costs ($14.2 billion) are higher for depressed mothers. Pharmacological interventions during pregnancy and lactation may be associated with adverse effects, and psychotherapies are limited by time, expense and clinician availability. Women prefer non-medication options; but there is a paucity of research examining alternative treatments for this population. Thus, providing sleep and light treatments to peripartum women in the community via a UCSD-ADAPT program partnership would have important short- and long-term health benefits.

How funding relates to improving human health: Funding this project allows for further training of community health care personnel in identifying and providing effective, acceptable, appropriate, feasible and affordable home treatments adoptable and sustainable by community health providers. Compared with other countries that provide universal and home health care to all peripartum women, the US has higher peripartum depression and anxiety rates largely due to the lack of community outreach programs. This project would help reverse that trend, potentially serving as a model for enhanced recognition and treatment of peripartum mood and sleep disturbances, which particularly in underserved populations, can have adverse consequences. Thus the value of funding this project includes not only improving women’s health, but also preventing further disability and disease, benefiting the mother, her family and society.

headshot of a man with short dark hair and a beard, wearing glasses, a white collared shirt, and a tie

PI: James Pittman, PhD

UC San Diego Department of Psychiatry; VA Center of Excellence for Stress and Mental Health

Title: Cognitive Rehabilitation and Exposure/Sorting Therapy (CREST)”

This project, “Scaling-out an Evidence-Based Treatment for Hoarding Disorder to Rural Spanish Speakers in East San Diego and Imperial Counties”, will develop a plan to make an evidence-based treatment for hoarding disorder (HD) available to the residents of East San Diego and Imperial Counties. 

HD is a long lasting mental health condition that leads to harmful personal and community consequences. HD is defined by persistent difficulty removing or throwing away possessions due to distress linked to discarding, urges to save, and/or difficulty making decisions about what to keep and what to discard. As a result, clutter increases and fills active living areas, preventing the normal use of space resulting in distress and disability. HD starts early in life, progresses in severity with age, and does not get better if it is not treated. The social, financial, and public health burden of HD to the community, families, and healthcare system has been well established. Accumulation of clutter can become so dangerous that it puts individuals at risk of falls, fires, infestations, food contamination, medication mismanagement, social isolation, and poor nutritional. Eviction and homelessness can also result. 

Cognitive Rehabilitation and Exposure/Sorting Therapy (CREST) is an evidence-based treatment for HD.
East San Diego and Imperial Counties have a large Spanish speaking population and do not have access to an evidence-based treatment for HD. In this project, we will work with stakeholders such as Imperial County Behavioral Health Services, Catholic Charities, American Legion Organization, Calexico Code Enforcement, community health workers, and several Spanish speaking consumers with HD from these communities to develop a plan to provide CREST treatment to the people there who need it. 

By working with the organizations and people in this community, we believe this project will raise awareness about HD in the short term and provide a plan for how to bring this treatment to those who needed it in the community in the long term. The potential impact to the community is improved quality of life and reduced safety risks, evictions, and homelessness risk for those who get treatment. This project could also decrease costs to the community by reducing the code enforcement actions, expensive home clean-outs, legal actions, and fires. 

photo of a woman with long curly hair

PI: Emily Treichler, PhD

UC San Diego Department of Psychiatry; VA Mental Illness Research, Education & Clinical Center (MIRECC)

Title: Tailoring Collaborative Decision Skills Training for Underserved Minority Veterans with Serious Mental Illness

Importance to human health. Being able to talk to your doctor and meaningfully participate in treatment decisions about your health and mental health is a key part of improving health. People who are meaningfully involved in treatment decisions are more likely to participate in their treatment (for example, take a medication or go to therapy) and more likely to be happy with their treatment. This leads to improvements in their health and quality of life. But it’s not easy for some people to talk to their doctors. There are a lot of reasons for that, including: not knowing they are allowed to participate, not knowing what to say or how to say it, and not having the confidence to speak up. Those problems are more common for the folks in our study, partly because they have experience not being listened to or otherwise not being treated well in health care situations. We have a group, Collaborative Decision Skills Training (CDST), that is intended to help people with serious mental illness work more effectively with their doctors, but we don’t know how well it works for race/ethnic minority Veterans. We want to understand what race/ethnic minority Veterans’ experiences during treatment decision-making are, and what we could do to improve CDST so it works for their specific needs. We will use the improved version of CDST at the VA San Diego soon after completing the improvements. If CDST helps people, then we would also work on making CDST available across many VAs and outside of the VA. We would also consider how CDST might help people in other groups, like people with chronic pain or other chronic health conditions. So, it would have a big impact on health by helping people participate in treatment decisions and get the care that will work best for them. 

Impact of the research on the community. The biggest impact this research will have is to improve CDST so that it works well for Veterans with serious mental illness who are ethnic and/or racial minorities. It’s particularly important for these folks to be able to increase their participation in treatment decision-making because they are more likely to be left out of the decision-making process. After completing this study, we will be able to offer CDST at the San Diego VA and test whether it helps this group of people. If it does, the impact in the short-term and the long-term would be large since increasing participation in treatment decision-making leads to better treatment participation and satisfaction, reaching your treatment goals, and better quality of life. We also hope to have an immediate impact on the participants in the study, because the process of sharing opinions and having your voice heard about treatment can be empowering and uplifting. We have found this in past studies and will work in this study to make the research process a positive and empowering one for every participant. 

Community engagement and partnership. We are engaging with the community in three ways. First, we will hire two people who represent the group we are studying: Veterans with serious mental illness who are ethnic/racial minority group members. These two folks will be partners in the study and have important roles in each step of the study, including study design, recruitment, data collection, data analysis, and writing research papers. We also hope to continue our relationships with these two partners in future projects. Second, our research methods are intended to amplify the voices of the participants and get their direct opinions on CDST so that any changes we make are based on what the participants want and need. This helps ensure that we work we do will really benefit the community. Third, as a result of this study, community members in general will have access to the improved version of CDST at the San Diego VA and in other places. 

Past ACTRI Pilot Project Awardees

2020 Awardees

Award Date: April 1, 2020 through March 31, 2021

​PI Name ​Title of Proposal ​Department ​Type of Grant Award
​Stephan Anagnostaras, PhD ​Exploring the therapeutic effects of low-dose MDMA ​UC San Diego Department of Psychology ​Clinical and Translational
​Schafer Boeder, MD Effect of Glucagon Receptor Antagonism on Ketogenesis in SGLT-2i Treated Subjects With Type 1 Diabetes​ ​UC San Diego Department of Medicine ​Clinical and Translational
Drew​ Hall, PhD ​A point-of-care, bedside milk analyzer ​UC San Diego Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Clinical and Translational
Martin Hoenigl, MD ​High Resolution Melt for Rapid Diagnosis of Invasive Mold Infection in Immunosuppressed Patients ​UC San Diego Department of Medicine ​Clinical and Translational
Jyoti Mishra, PhD ​Personalized Closed-Loop Brain Stimulation for Depression ​UC San Diego Department of Psychiatry Clinical and Translational
Martin Pham, MD ​Validation of Simulation for Training Neurosurgery Residents ​UC San Diego Department of Neurological Surgery Clinical and Translational​
Partha Ray, PhD ​An anti-KIT Aptamer-Conjugated Mesoporous Silica Nanoparticle-Based Theranostic System for Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor Imaging ​UC San Diego Department of Surgery ​Clinical and Translational
Calvin​ Yeang, MD, PhD ​Refining Cardiovascular Risk Attributed to Low-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol ​UC San Diego Department of Medicine Clinical and Translational
Xianjin Zhou, PhD ​Anti-NMDAR Autoantibodies Confer Susceptibility for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder ​UC San Diego Department of Medicine ​Clinical and Translational

2019 Awardees

Award Date: April 1, 2019 through March 31, 2020

​PI Name ​TItle of Proposal ​Department ​Type of Grant Award
​Gretchen Bandoli, PhD ​Stress responsive biomarkers as predictors of preterm birth: an examination by maternal race ​UC San Diego Department of Pediatrics ​Clinical and Translational
​Jill Buckley, MD Magnetic Resonance Imaging Evaluation of Urethral Stricture Disease UC San Diego Department of Urology ​Clinical and Translational
​Cathleen Collins, MD, PhD Understanding the Role of T Follicular Helper Cells During Vaccination in Children of Different Ages ​UC San Diego Department of Pediatrics Clinical and Translational
​Anjan Debnath, PhD Fexinidazole and its Metabolites: New Drug Leads for Helicobacter pylori Infection ​UC San Diego Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences ​Clinical and Translational
​Angela Meier, MD, PhD Impact of Anesthetics on the Antimicrobial Treatment Response of Multi-Drug Resistant Organisms ​UC San Diego Department of Anesthesiology, pision of Critical Care Clinical and Translational
​Amy Non, MD, MPH (Daniel T. O’Connor Award Recipient) Examining epigenetic effects of stress in developing human neurons ​UC San Diego, pision of Anthropology Clinical and Translational​
​David Pride, MD, PhD Assessing the role of high fat derived viruses in gut inflammation and microbiome modulation ​UC San Diego, Department of Pathology ​Clinical and Translational
​Stephanie Stanford, PhD ​Exploration of LMPTP as a new target for fibrosis therapy ​UC San Diego, Department of Medicine ​Clinical and Translational
​Tiffany Tanaka, MD Understanding how clonal hematopoiesis mediates cardiovascular risk through targeted exome, single cell transcriptome and epigenome analysis of clonal immune cells​ ​UC San Diego, Department of Medicine Clinical and Translational
​Wynnis Tom, MD ​Pediatric Psoriasis and Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD): Spectrum and Significance for Co-Management ​UC San Diego, Departments of Dermatology and Pediatrics Clinical and Translational
​Louise Laurent, MD, PhD ​Correlating maternal and neonatal microbiome profiles with pregnancy and postnatal outcomes: Urinary Microbiome vs. Vaginal and Rectal Microbiome during Pregnancy ​University of California, San Diego, Department of Reproductive Medicine ​Life Course
​Dorota Skowronska-Krawczyk, PhD Advancing the understanding of neuroprotective function of senolytic drugs in glaucoma ​University of California, San Diego, Department of Ophthalmology ​Life Course
​Argentina Servin, MD, MPH

Tsuyuki Kiyomi, PhD MPH

Community Partner:
Kevin Mattson, CEO
​Developing a youth-centered mobile app for Sex Ed and linkage into care in California

​University of California, San Diego, pision of Infectious Diseases & Global Public Health, Department of Medicine

University of California, San Diego, pision of Infectious Diseases & Global Public Health, Department of Medicine

San Ysidro Health

​Jay Silverman, PhD

Community Partner:
Ilana Brongiel, MPH
Adapting an evidence-based model for reducing reproductive coercion and intimate partner violence, and increasing contraceptive use among Latina adolescents in southern San Diego: ARCHES Jovenes

​University of California, San Diego, Department of Medicine

San Ysidro Health

Dissemination and Implementation Research
​Irene Su, MD ​Developing a multicomponent implementation strategy for fertility care for female adolescent and young adult cancer survivors ​University of California, San Diego, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Services ​Dissemination and Implementation Research

2018 Awardees

Award Date: April 1, 2018 through March 31, 2019

PI Name Title of Proposal Department Type of Grant Award
Andrew Barleben, MD, MPH Combined Computational-Experimental Approach to Evaluation of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms following Stent Graft Placement to Mitigate Endoleak and Late Graft Failure UC San Diego Department of Surgery Clinical
Rafael Bejar, MD, PhD

Pilot study of age-associated cellular and molecular markers in patients with MDS

UC San Diego Department of Medicine Clinical
Leslie Crews, PhD

Targeting Interferon-responsive Transcripts to Prevent Malignant Regeneration in Multiple Myeloma

UC San Diego Department of Medicine Clinical
Soumita Das, PhD

Targeting the Gut Barrier to Cure Inflammatory Bowel Diseases

UC San Diego Department of Pathology Clinical
Adam DeConde, MD

Investigation of the Lipomics of Aspirin-exacerbated Respiratory Disease

UC San Diego Department of Surgery Clinical
Paul Kim, MD, FACC

Identifying an Immune-mediated Mechanism in Non-specific Allograft Dysfunction of Heart-Transplant Patients

UC San Diego, pision of Cardiology Clinical
Kevin King, MD, PhD (Daniel T. O'Connor Award Recipient)

Clinical Pilot of Single Cell Analysis during Human Cardiac Ischemia and Infarction

UC San Diego, pision of Cardiology, and Department of Bioengineering Clinical
Olivia Osborn, PhD

Metabolomic Signatures Associated with Antipsychotic-induced Food Intake

UC San Diego, Department of Medicine

Bryan Sun, MD, PhD

Impact of Beckers Nevus-Associated ACTB Mutations on Hedgehog Signaling

UC San Diego, Department of Dermatology Clinical
Niels Vande Casteele, PhD

Quantification of Denatured and Degraded Drug in Intestinal Tissue Samples from Inflammatory Bowel Disease Patients Treated with Vedolizumab

UC San Diego, Department of Medicine Clinical
Amir Zarrinpar, MD, PhD Serum Bile Acid Pool of Patients with Hepatic Encephalopathy UC San Diego, Department of Medicine Clinical
Eileen Moore, PhD Pharmacological Treatment to Improve White Matter Plasticity in FASD San Diego State University, Department of Psychology Life Course
Inna Fishman, PhD

Mikaela Kinnear, PhD

Community Partner:
Richie Ploesch, MA, BCBA

Evaluating Clinical Outcomes of Improv Theater Intervention for Teens with Autism

Department of Psychology
San Diego State University

Department of Psychology
San Diego State University

National Comedy Theatre
Unscripted Learning

Sheila Mody, MD, MPH Exploring the Layers of Logistics of Adoption: Utilizing the PRISM Framework-informed Implementation Intervention for Direct Provision of Emergency Contraception by Pharmacists
Department of Reproductive Medicine
UC San Diego
Dissemination and Implementation Research

2017 Awardees

Award Date: April 1, 2017 through March 31, 2018

PI Name Title of Proposal Department Type of Grant Award
Lori Daniels, MD, MAS Kinetics of Cell-Cycle Arrest Biomarkers after Contrast Exposure in Patients at High Risk for Contrast-Induced Nephropathy UC San Diego Department of Medicine Clinical
David Gonzalez, PhD

Characterization of the Mitochondria Proteome in Healthy and Diabetic Human Skeletal Muscle

UC San Diego Department of Pharmacology Clinical
Suzi Hong, PhD

Pesticide Exposures and Risks of Adverse Motor and Cognitive System Health Effects Among Latino Residents of Imperial Valley, California

UC San Diego Department of Psychiatry Clinical
Olivier Harismendy, PhD

Sharing Genetic Test Results

UC San Diego School of Medicine, Biomedical Informatics Clinical
Jane J. Kim, MD

Linking the Gut Microbiome to Metabolism in Obese Children with Type 1 Diabetes

UC San Diego Department of Pediatrics Clinical
Daphne (Yvette) LaCoursiere, MD

Placental Role in Biopsychosocial Risk for Childhood Obesity and Related Comorbidities

UC San Diego Department of Reproductive Medicine Clinical
Jair Lage de Siqueira Neto, PhD

Zika Virus Drug Discovery

UC San Diego Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences Clinical
Carrie McDonald, PhD

Jona Hattangadi-Gluth, MD

Integration of BOLD-FMRI and DTI into Radiation Treatment Planning for Sparing of Eloquent Brain Regions

UC San Diego Department of Psychiatry

UC San Diego Department of Radiation Medicine & Applied Sciences

Shirley M. Tsunoda, PharmD

The Effect of the Microbiome on Drug Metabolizing Enzymes

UC San Diego Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences Clinical
Jillian Lee Wiggins, PhD

Pathways of Risk and Resilience: Neural Predictors of Irritability in At-risk Offspring of Mothers with Depression

San Diego State University, Department of Neurosciences Clinical
Matthew Shtrahman, MD, PhD

Developing Two-Photon Calcium Imaging of Brain Activity for Human Subjects

UC San Diego Department of Neurosciences Innovative Technology
Michael Yip, PhD

A Robotic, Wristed Cupped Biopsy Forceps for Flexible Endoscopy

UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering
Electrical & Computer Engineering
Innovative Technology
Richard Haas, MD

Gail Reiner, PhD

The Impact of Breastfeeding in High-risk Neonates with Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy on Fetal Maternal Bonding and Neurodevelopmental Outcome

UC San Diego Department of Neurosciences

Azusa Pacific University San Diego Regional Center
Sarah Rieth, PhD

Building Capacity for Evidence-Based Early Intervention in Imperial County: A Community Collaborative Approach

San Diego State University Department of Child and Family Development Academic-Community
Elizabeth Twamley, PhD

Working to Improve Supported Employment Fidelity (WISE Fidelity)

UC San Diego Department of Psychiatry Dissemination and Implementation Research


2016 Awardees

Award Date: April 1, 2016-March 31, 2017

PI Name Title of Proposal Department Type of Grant Award
Paula Aristizabal, MD, MAS Factors affecting Parental Satisfaction, Anxiety and Comprehension of the Informed Consent in Pediatric Oncology Clinical Trials UC San Diego Department of Pediatrics/Rady Children’s Hospital Clinical
Edward Chao, DO, MA Studying the Effectiveness of Non-Invasive Glucose Sensors in Patients with Diabetes: The SENSOR Study UC San Diego Department of Medicine Clinical
Farhad Imam, MD, PhD Untargeted, Large-Scale Metabolomics in Neonatology for Disease Biomarker Discovery UC San Diego Department of Medicine Clinical
Daniel Simpson, MD Restriction Spectrum Imaging for Pre-surgical Assessment of Neoadjuvant Treatment Response in Rectal Cancer UC San Diego Department of Radiation Medicine & Applied Sciences Clinical
Eric Adler, MD Preclinical Gene Therapy Study for the Treatment of Danon Disease UC San Diego Department of Medicine Translational
Conor Caffrey, PhD Rapid, Point-of-care Diagnosis of Schistosomiasis
UC San Diego Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences Translational
Soumita Das, PhD The Link between MCP-1 and ELMO1: a New Marker in Inflammatory Diseases UC San Diego Department of Pathology Translational
Anthony O’Donoghue, PhD Rapid, Products of Conception (POC) Detection of Candidemia in Serum

Skaggs School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences Translational
Albert Remacle, PhD Potent and Selective Fully Human Recombinant Monoclonal Antibody Against Pro-tumorigenic/Invasive Membrane Type-1 Matrix Metalloproteinase (MT1-MMP) Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute Translational
Fiza Singh, MD Enhancing Gamma Band Response in Schizophrenia Patients to Improve Working Memory UC San Diego, Department of Psychiatry Translational
Alexandre Gingras, PhD Identification of Small Molecule Inhibitors of Integrin Activation using Nanodiscs UC San Diego, Department of Medicine Innovative Technology
Shelley Lawrence, MD, MS High-resolution Melt with Machine Learning for the Accurate Diagnosis of Neonatal Sepsis UC San Diego, Department of Pediatrics/Rady Children’s Hospital Innovative Technology
Amy Lansing, PhD


Sacha Sykora, MA

School-based Trauma-Informed System (TIS) Implementation: Trauma-Responsiveness and Cognitive Capacity Building in Imperial County

UC San Diego, Department of Psychiatry


Elizabeth Reed, ScD, MPH


Argentina Servin, MD, MPH

Zara Marselian, MA, FACHE

Julia Macouzet

Microfinance Businesses to Prevent Obesity and Related Health Conditions among Latinos in San Diego, CA

UC San Diego, Department of Medicine, pision of Global Health

La Maestra Community Health Centers

Jeanne Huang, MD, MPH


Javier Rodriguez, MD

Improving Pediatric Hepatitis B Screening in High-Risk San Diego Communities

UC San Diego Dept of Pediatrics

La Maestra Community Health Centers

Dissemination and Implementation Research


2015 Awardees

Award Date: August 13, 2015-March 31, 2016

PI Name Title of Proposal Department Type of Grant Award
Seema Aceves, MD, PhD The Role of LIGHT in Esophageal Remodeling in Pediatric Eosinophilic Esophagitis UC San Diego Department of Pediatrics Clinical
Joshua Alexander, DO, MPH The Role of Osteopathic Medicine in the Management of Post-traumatic Migraine UC San Diego Department of Neurosciences Clinical
Joel Baumgartner, MD Pilot Study of Postoperative Chemotherapy in High-Grade Appendiceal Adenocarcinoma with Peritoneal Carcinomatosis UC San Diego Department of Surgery Clinical
Tiffany Greenwood, PhD Are Bipolar Brains Creative Brains? Investigation of Regional Activation and Neural Connectivity in Bipolar Patients and Artists Towards a Model of Creativity as a Positive and Evolutionarily Adaptive Trait within the Bipolar Spectrum UC San Diego Department of Psychiatry Clinical
Monica Guma, MD, PhD Eicosanoids as Biomarkers of Psoriatic Arthritis UC San Diego Department of Medicine Clinical
Sanjay Mehta, MD Optimizing Vaccine Efficacy in Solid Organ Transplant Recipients UC San Diego School of Medicine Clinical
Hilary Roeder, MD Evaluation of Placenta Growth Factor as a Diagnostic Marker for Late Preterm Preeclampsia UC San Diego Department of Reproductive Medicine Clinical
Paula Desplats, PhD The Impact of Circadian Alterations on Brain Insulin Resistance and Alzheimer Disease Pathology UC San Diego Department of Neurosciences


Jeremiah Momper, PharmD, PhD Regulation of Hepatic UGT1A9 by Sex Hormones: Implications for Mycophenolic Acid Exposure in Renal Transplant Recipients UC San Diego Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences Translational
Gerald Morris, MD, PhD Defining Immunologic Effects of Reprogramming Human Tissue Precursors for Regenerative Therapy UC San Diego Department of Pathology Translational
Alysson Muotri, PhD Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors as a Novel Therapeutical Approach for Neurological Autoimmune Disorders UC San Diego Department of Pediatrics Innovative Technology
Joseph M. Cantor, PhD CD98hc in Pancreatic Islet Allograft Rejection UC San Diego Department of Medicine Personalized Medicine
Amanda Gosman, MD


Venessa Malcarne, PhD

Pediatric Facial Deformity Quality of Life (QoL) Questionnaire Development Study

UC San Diego Department of Surgery

San Diego State University Department of Psychology

Christina Holub, PhD, MPH


Camille Nebeker, EdD, MS

Increasing Physical Activity through a Culturally Tailored, Community-led Intervention among Pacific Islanders: The Rawmana Fitness Pilot Study

San Diego Institute for Behavioral and Community Health; San Diego State University

UC San Diego Department of Family Medicine and Public Health



2014 Awardees

Award Date: April 2014-March 2015

PI Name Title of Proposal Department Type of Grant Award
Carolyn Allard, PhD A Pilot Test of the Effectiveness of a Pre-PTSD-treatment Emotion Regulation and Distress Tolerance Skills Building Group on PTSD Treatment Engagement and Effectiveness in Survivors of Military Sexual Trauma UC San Diego Veterans Medical Research Foundation Clinical
Luis Castellanos, MD Pilot Study to Evaluate the Feasibility and Effectiveness of a Home-based Cardiac Rehabilitation Program in Patients with Coronary Heart Disease UC San Diego Department of Medicine, pision of Cardiology Clinical
Inna Fishman, PhD Neural Generators of Emotional Mimicry (and Lack Thereof) in Autism San Diego State University Clinical
Jane Kim, MD Profiling Metabolomic Signatures in Children with Type 2 Diabetes UC San Diego Department of Pediatrics Clinical
Dawn Meyer, PhD Is Platelet Hyperactivity the Key to Increased Stroke Recurrence in Post-Stroke Depression UC San Diego Department of Neurosciences Clinical
Charles Taylor, PhD Positive Valence System Enhancement Treatment for Anxiety and Depression: Clinical Efficacy and Neural Changes UC San Diego Department of Psychiatry Clinical
Taylor Doherty, MD Regulation of Type 2 Innate Lymphoid Cells in Asthma UC San Diego Department of Rheumatology, Allergy & Immunology Translational
Sara Gianella Weibel, MD Mechanisms of HIV Persistence UC San Diego Center for AIDS Research Translational
Jona Hattangadi-Gluth, MD Quantitative Neuroimaging and Neurocognitive Assessment to Measure Radiation-Induced Brain Injury in Non-targeted Tissue: Implications for Cognitive Preservation UC San Diego Department of Radiation Medicine & Applied Sciences Translational
Ji Zhang, MD, PhD Genetic Association Study of the Mitochondrial Phosphatase PTPMT1 in Metabolic Syndrome UC San Diego Department of Pharmacology Translational
Drew Hall, PhD Smartphone-based Point-of-care Detection and Treatment Monitoring of Lipoarabinomannan (LAM) in Urine from HIV-associated Tuberculosis (TB) Patients in Remote Settings UC San Diego Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Innovative Technology
Wenxian Fu, PhD Identifying The Initiating Factors in Type 1 Diabetes by Disclosing The Crosstalk Among Islet Vascular Inflammation, Immune Responses and β Cell Death UC San Diego Department of Pediatrics Personalized Medicine
Louise Laurent, MD, PhD Whole Exome Sequencing for Prenatal Diagnosis UC San Diego Department of Reproductive Medicine Personalized Medicine
Lawrence Prince, MD, PhD Personalized Genomic Medicine in Preterm Infants UC San Diego Department of Pediatrics Personalized Medicine
Kate Murray, PhD Improving Taxi Driver Health and Access to Health Care – A Community-Academic Partnership UC San Diego Department of Family & Preventive Medicine Academic-Community
Jamila Stockman, PhD The Role of Peer Navigators and Social Support in the HIV Care Continuum: Perceptions of HIV-Positive Women UC San Diego pision of Global Public Health Academic-Community


2013 Awardees

Award Date: April 2013 - March 2014

PI Name Title of Proposal Department Type of Grant Award
Dawn Schiehser, MD/PhD Neurocognitive and neural changes associated with cognitive rehabilitation in Parkinson's disease UCSD Department of Psychiatry Clinical
Pam Taub, MD Effects of epicatechin on functional capacity, skeletal muscle structure and diastolic function in patients with heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFPEF) UCSD Department of Medicine (Cardiology) Clinical
Adriana Tremoulet, MD Immunoglobulin G sialylation in patients with treatment-resistant Kawasaki disease UCSD & Rady Children's Hospital – Department of Pediatrics Clinical
Dean Acheson, PhD Intranasal oxytocin as a putative facilitator of virtual reality-based exposure therapy for arachnophobia UCSD Department of Psychiatry Translational
Beatrix Bartok, MD The novel role of YAP in regulating synoviocytes behavior in rheumatoid arthritis UCSD Department of Medicine (Rheumatology) Translational
Karen Christman, PhD Novel biomaterial for preventing cardiac adhesions UCSD Department of Bioengineering Translational
Todd Costantini, MD Taxonomically restricted gene expression in injured patients UCSD Department of Surgery Translational
Yo Suzuki, PhD Using Yeast to Understand Malaria Drug Mechanisms of Action J. Craig Venter Institute, Department of Synthetic Biology Translational
Albert Remacle, PhD Imaging of metastatic breast cancer cells via the active cell-surface proteinase Sanford Burnham Research Institute – Cancer Center Translational
Douglas Conrad, MD Metabolites as biomarkers in Cystic Fibrosis UCSD Department of Medicine (Pulmonary) Personalized Medicine
Daniel O'Connor, MD Natural human genetic variation and the metabolism: Studies in twin pairs UCSD Department of Medicine (Nephrology) Personalized Medicine
Gregory Light, PhD Predicting Cognitive Enhancement Following Intensive Neuroplasticity-Based Training Intervention in Schizophrenia UCSD Department of Psychiatry Community
Monica Ulibarri, PhD Assessment of risk factors for commercial sexual exploitation of high risk adolescent girls in San Diego County UCSD Department of Psychiatry Community
Hemal H. Patel, PhD Membranes as a Regulator of Healthy Aging UCSD Department of Anesthesiology Pilot Project


2012 Awardees

Award Date: April 2012 - March 2013

PI Name Title of Proposal Department Type of Grant Award
Jason Sicklick, MD Innovative Targeting of Melanoma with Allosteric RAF inhibitors Department of Surgery Clinical
Jeannie Huang, MD, MPH Neurobiology of Pain Processing in Children with Gastrointestinal Disorders Department of Pediatrics Clinical
Xavier Soler, MD, PhD Effects of Pulmonary Rehabilitation on sleep architecture, obstructive sleep apnea, insomnia and nocturnal hypoxemia in COPD Department of Medicine Clinical
Jared Young, PhD Neurocognitive Effects of Nicotine Use in Schizophrenia: Parallel Human and Animal Studies Department of Psychiatry Translational
Michael McCarthy, MD, PhD Pharmacogenetics in Treatment Refractory Depression Department of Psychiatry Translational
Sameh Ali, PhD Markers of Oxidative Stress in Plasma and Cerebrospinal Fluid as Predictors of Sleep Disturbance in PTSD Subjects Department of Medicine Translational
Wesley Thompson, PhD Improved Inferences in Dynamic Causal Modeling of Observational Data: Application to Breast Cancer Chemotherapy, Cognition and Sleep Department of Psychiatry Translational
Carl Stepnowsky, PhD Research platform for remote monitoring of health parameters Department of Medicine Innovative
Scott Matthews, MD Multimodal biomarkers of recovery from depression Department of Psychiatry Innovative
David Chang, PhD, MBA, MPH Stronger Communities through Effective Mentorship and Trauma Prevention Program Department of Surgery Community
Jae Kim, MD, PhD Premature Infant Nutrition Post-discharge Collaborative Project Department of Pediatrics Community
Carrie McDonald, PhD Neuropsychological and Neuroanatomical Profiles of Children with Temporal Lobe Epilepsy Department of Psychiatry Community


2011 Awardees

PI Name Title of Proposal Department Type of Grant Award
Lisa Eyler, PhD Neurocognitive Effects of Nicotine in Bipolar Disorder: Parallel Human and Animal Studies Clinical
Hal M. Hoffman, MD Genetic and Molecular Basis of Familial Atypical Cold Urticaria Department of Pediatrics Clinical
Amy E. Lansing, PhD Hearing Loss, Middle Ear Status & Auditory Processing Deficits in Detained Girls Department of Psychiatry Clinical
Randy A. Taplitz, PhD The Role of Type 1 Interferon in Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplant Department of Medicine Clinical
Jenny M. Kim, MD Biomarkers of Human Sickle Cell Disease Department of Pediatrics Translational
Alessandra Sacco, MD Role of telomere shortening in human Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy Department of Orthopedics Translational
Jean Wang, PhD Targeted nanosomal delivery of Imatinib to ameliorate renal damage from cis-platinum therapy for cervical cancer Medicine and Biology Translational
Karen Christman, PhD Injectable autologous scaffold for treating myocardial infarction Bioengineering Translational
James Hagood, MD Lung-specific targeting of antifibrotic therapies Pediatric Respiratory Medicine Translational
Suzi Hong, PhD Validation of Flow Cytometric Analysis of Beta-adrenergic Receptor Expression on Blood Leukocytes in the Healthy and Heart Failure Patients Psychiatry Translational
Victoria Risbrough, PhD COMT val/met polymorphism effects on novelty-seeking: Developing a mouse model of Bipolar Disorder Abstract Psychiatry Translational
Dena Rifkin, MD Real-time wireless blood pressure monitoring for kidney disease Abstract Innovative
Steven J. Bark, PhD Molecular Basis of Microglial Activation by the Fractalkine Receptor, CX3CR1 Abstract School of Pharmacy/ Pharmaceutical Science Innovative
Rebecca J. Theilmann, PhD Quantitative Magnetic Resonance Assessment of Secretions in Cystic Fibrosis Airways Department of Radiology Innovative
William Song, PhD Development of novel 4D imaging framework for liver cancer radiation therapy Radiation Oncology Innovative
Lisa Madlensky, PhD Developing a Community-Based Cancer Genetics Research Project with the Chula Vista Community Collaborative Department of Family and Preventive Medicine Innovative