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New Chan Zuckerberg Biohub awards foster research collaborations

New Chan Zuckerberg Biohub awards foster research collaborations

​Seventeen Stanford faculty join a new Bay Area-wide network of teams focused on tackling demanding healthcare challenges through shared research.
October 3, 2018

The CZ Biohub, led by Stephen Quake, will carry out research on microbes and their impact on human health. | Image Credit: Norbert von der Groeben

Thirteen Stanford faculty are among the leaders of six research teams that received funding from the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub.

Combined with a new Microbiome Initiative — which includes four Stanford faculty — the CZ Biohub is committing $13.7 million over three years to new collaborative research to enhance human health.

The Intercampus Research Awards were given to teams of researchers that include faculty from Stanford, UCSF and the University of California, Berkeley, with the goal of fostering scientific research collaboration across the Bay Area.

“This new collaborative team-based funding allows investigators across the three campuses to tackle demanding problems to enhance health,” said Stephen Quake, co-president of CZ Biohub and professor of bioengineering and of applied physics at Stanford. “These research teams will shed new light on a diverse and challenging set of questions that will advance our understanding while developing technologies that open fresh avenues of research.”

Steven Palumbi, professor of biology, is one of five leaders on a team that received funding to investigate genome evolution and cell biology in organisms that aren’t traditional laboratory animals. “Mice can’t regenerate limbs but we study worms that can, and corals can live thousands of years,” he said. “There are amazing things that these organisms do regularly that reveal the limits of our own cell biology.”

Palumbi said that collaborations across institutions are how everyone knows science should be done, but it rarely happens. “We all know if you take different areas of science and put them together these intersections lead to insights,” he said. But it takes something like these grants to bring faculty together.

The CZ Biohub also announced funding to expand on the Microbiome Initiative that launched as a pilot program earlier this year. That initiative will carry out research on the community of microbes within the human body that influence many aspects of health, from nutrition and immune function to drug metabolism.

Four Stanford faculty are among the eight investigators who will be leading the Microbiome Initiative: Michael Fischbach, associate professor of bioengineering; Kerwyn “KC” Huang, associate professor of bioengineering and of microbiology and immunology; David Relman, professor of medicine and of microbiology and immunology; and Justin Sonnenburg, associate professor of microbiology and immunology.

“The human microbiome is incredibly complex, individual, and dynamic,” Sonnenberg said. “Hundreds of microbial species are a fundamental part of human biology, contributing to health and in some cases causing disease, so this is an important but difficult set of biomedical problems to address.”

As part of the Microbiome Initiative, CZ Biohub will establish a mass spectrometry facility for metabolomics at the Stanford-based Biohub site. They plan to make unused instrument time available to other members of the research community. They are also exploring the idea of making software tools, mentoring and training accessible to biologists and engineers who are not specialists in metabolomics.

The CZ Biohub encourages collaboration between Bay Area institutions with regular meetings and chances for their investigators to exchange ideas. Team leaders on the Intercampus Research Awards will be expected to participate in at least half of the biweekly meetings and to upload manuscripts reporting work supported by these awards to preprint servers such as bioRxiv.org or arXiv.org to accelerate the pace of scientific discovery.

The six awards and team leaders are:

Beyond model systems: Insights into genome evolution and cellular innovations
Christopher Lowe, Stanford University
Daniel Rokhsar, UC Berkeley
Wallace Marshall, UCSF
Stephen Palumbi, Stanford University
Irving Weissman, Stanford University

Social network analysis of neuroimmune interactions in the developing human brain
Tomasz Nowakowski, UCSF
Jimmie Ye, UCSF
David Schaffer, UC Berkeley
Alex Pollen, UCSF
James Zou, Stanford University
Alice Ting, Stanford University

Multi-scale deep learning and single-cell models of cardiovascular health
Rima Arnaout, UCSF
Euan Ashley, Stanford University
J. Ben Brown, UC Berkeley
Atul Butte, UCSF
James Priest, Stanford University
Bin Yu, UC Berkeley

Machine learning for interpreting rare genetic variation in comprehensive newborn screening and pharmacogenetics
Steven E. Brenner, UC Berkeley
Russ B. Altman, Stanford University
Renata C. Gallagher, UCSF
Michael I. Jordan, UC Berkeley
Kathleen M. Giacomini, UCSF
Carlos Bustamante, Stanford University

Defining host responses of virus-infected and uninfected neighbor cells
Laurent Coscoy, UC Berkeley
Karla Kirkegaard, Stanford University
Melanie Ott, UCSF, Gladstone Institutes
Peter Sarnow, Stanford University

Imaging complex biological machines in action
Wah Chiu, Stanford University
John C. Boothroyd, Stanford University
Carolyn Larabell, UCSF
James A. Sethian, UC Berkeley