UCSF scientists win seven UC discovery grants

By Wallace Ravven on July 10, 2003

Scientists at the University of California, San Francisco have received seven prestigious UC Discovery Grants - state funding paired with private industry support to foster public-private collaboration on important scientific research.

Proposals for UC Discovery Grants are competitively peer-reviewed, and grantees pursue research projects on UC campuses. Funding for the seven UCSF research projects totals about $2.6 million. UC Discovery Grants is funding about $1.1 million of the total, with about $1.5 million coming from private industry.

The program has grown nearly seven-fold in the last year, from a total of about $1.5 million in state and industry funding for UCSF research last fiscal year to nearly $10 million in funding this year.

“By linking the talents of UCSF investigators with the resources of private firms, we are building partnerships that will shorten the time lag between a discovery in the lab and improvements in human health,” said UCSF Executive Vice Chancellor Regis B. Kelly.

UCSF scientists receiving the new UC Discovery Grants are:

* Susan Fisher, PhD, professor of stomatology, anatomy and pharmaceutical chemistry, will receive $999,429 over two years for research on the role of placental connective tissue cells called fibroblasts in regulating stem cell growth and differentiation.  Private sector funds are provided by Geron Corporation.

* Bruce Hasegawa, PhD, professor of radiology, will receive two grants, one for $530,457 over three years to develop high-resolution imaging to study mammalian biology and to evaluate new diagnostic and therapeutic methods in mice and other small mammals. The imaging technique will allow these studies to be performed without tissue sampling, surgery or other methods that require the animal to be sacrificed. Photon Imaging, Inc. will provide the private support.

Hasegawa will also be funded for $75,078 for one year to support a research project focused on structural and functional imaging of prostate cancer. Private sector funds come from GE Medical Systems.

* Charles Craik, PhD, professor of pharmaceutical chemistry, will receive $433,891 over two years to support his research to develop diagnostic and therapeutic antibodies to target a class of proteases associated with cancer, known as membrane-type serine proteases. The private sector portion of the funding comes from Protein Design Labs, Inc.

* Randall Lee, MD, PhD, associate professor of clinical medicine, will receive $308,492 over one year for research characterizing myocardial angiogenesis induced by the growth factor, pleiotrophin. Angiogenix, Inc. will provide private sector support.

* Martin McMahon, PhD, professor of cancer biology, will receive $247,527 in public-private support over two years for research examining the role that a mutated form of the B-RAF gene may have in inducing cancer in human skin cells.

* James Rubenstein, MD, PhD, professor of hematology and oncology, will receive $44,526 over one year for a detailed molecular analysis of the brain and spinal cord fluid to identify markers that could indicate lymphoma tumor growth within the central nervous system, both for diagnosis and to enhance clinical monitoring. SurroMed, Inc. is the private sector funder.

UC Discovery Grants are administered by the Industry-University Cooperative Research Program of the UC Office of the President. Through use of research funds and tax credits, and by providing access to UC’s scientists and students, the program encourages California-based companies to pursue breakthrough research in UC laboratories. The next deadline for proposals is October 2003. Further information may be found at: http://www.ucdiscoverygrant.org.

At UCSF, the Office of Sponsored Research and the Office of Industry Partnerships support development of public and private sector research collaborations at the university. Companies seeking further information should call (415) 514-9620 or visit the UCSF Guide for Industry at: http://corporate.ucsf.edu

\###