UCSF Researchers Win Funding for Heart, Lung and Blood Studies

The second round of funding opportunities for the Technology Development Award from the University of California Center for Accelerated Innovation (UC CAI) has begun. All faculty at UC campuses in Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco are eligible.

The program offers four $200,000 awards to projects that help accelerate cutting-edge science to directly benefit patients with heart, lung and blood diseases. The program is unique to the UC system; it’s a collaborative effort among the five UC medical campuses and the National Institutes of Health Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.  

To be considered for funding, projects must have existing or imminent data showing the effectiveness of their technology and a clear clinical use. Therapeutic areas can cover any health condition within NIH NHLBI disease domains (heart, lung, sleep, blood) where there is an unmet medical need or the potential for significant improvement.

The first four $200,000 grants were awarded in June. 

Two UCSF recipients received funding for their clinical projects:

Charles Chiu

Charles Chiu, MD, PhD, won this award for his groundbreaking work to develop a more rapid, accurate test for diagnosing pneumonia. More than 30 percent of cases of pneumonia in hospitals remain undiagnosed by routine testing, and the failure to accurately diagnose and treat these cases in a timely fashion contributes to increased mortality rate in critically ill patients.

Pneumonia can be caused by bacteria, fungi or viruses, and to date there is no test that can rapidly evaluate for all types of pneumonia at once. It often takes several days to grow a culture, and doctors typically only test for one bacteria or virus at a time. Chiu is developing a highly sensitive next-generation sequencing assay that will be able to determine if the patient has pneumonia and what kind in a matter of hours.

The funding will help Chiu develop and validate this test in a clinical laboratory.


Stephen Nishimura

Stephen Nishimura, MD, was awarded the funds to engineer antibodies that target molecules critical to the development of pulmonary fibrosis. He’s developing antibodies that will combat integrin avb8, which in turn activates TGF-beta, a signaling molecule shown to be important in inflammation and fibrosis in chronic lung disease.

The goal of this project is to develop improved treatments for this severe and poorly-treated disease, as well as diagnostic tools to identify potential patients for this type of treatment. 

Nishimura’s team has demonstrated that this approach reduces fibrosis in pre-clinical fibrosis models. The new funding will support his development of the second generation of antibodies to fight pulmonary fibrosis. 

Questions about the awards? Contact Cathy Tralau-Stewart, PhD, senior program manager, Early Translational Research program, UCSF Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI).

June Lee, MD, FACCP, UCSF - UC CAI Site Leader
Shaun Coughlin, MD, PhD, UCSF - UC CAI Site Leader

Related Links