CTI Pilot Grant Award Winners

New Dixon Translational Research Grant Awards Announced

November 22, 2010― Northwestern Memorial Foundation (NMF), the charitable arm of Northwestern Memorial HealthCare (NMHC), and the NUCATS Institute are pleased to announce the Dixon Translational Research Grant awardees for FY11. The Dixon Translational Research Grants are awarded to Northwestern investigators for highly innovative, multi-disciplinary clinical and translational research collaborations that accelerate the identification and implementation of new treatments to improve human health. 

“These grants are an invaluable catalyst for clinical and translational research across Northwestern’s research enterprise,” said Chuck Watts, MD, Chief Medical Officer & Senior Vice President Medical Affairs, Northwestern Memorial Hospital.  We’re proud of all the investigators in this round and drew our winners from a highly competitive field of projects.

Priority Research Initiative Awards

These unique, cutting-edge projects have the potential to generate clinical care innovations, facilitate translational clinical research studies, and accelerate clinical development of novel technologies.

Douglas Losordo, MD, Director, Feinberg Cardiovascular Research Institute and Professor in Medicine-Cardiology has received an award for his research in enhancing progenitor cell function using bioactive peptide amphiphiles to improve outcomes associated with critical limb ischemia (CLI),  a severe manifestation of peripheral artery disease (PAD) that can necessitate partial or complete amputation of the affected limb (usually a leg).  Biological interventions that increase vascular supply are emerging therapies for patients with advanced cardiovascular disease.

Innovation Awards

Navdeep Chandel, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Medicine, Pulmonary Division, Feinberg School of Medicine, will pursue research targeting SOD1 for treatment of lung cancer, specifically testing efficacy of ATN-224, an orally available small molecule that inhibits SOD1, which is required to convert superoxide to hydrogen peroxide. Existing research has demonstrated that hydrogen peroxide activates signaling pathways that tumor cells utilize for proliferation, angiogenesis, and genes involved in metastasis.

Vincent Cryns, MD, Associate Professor Department of Medicine, Endocrinology Division, Feinberg School of Medicine will examine the potential for dual anti-angiogenic and cytotoxic nanostructures as a novel breast cancer therapy. This innovative approach to cancer therapy inhibits tumor angiogenesis and initiates breast tumor cell death, a powerful synergistic combination. These studies have the potential to profoundly impact breast cancer treatment and may lead to clinical trials in patients.

Francesca Facco, MD , Assistant Professor Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Feinberg School of Medicine Association will study the correlation between sleep-disordered breathing and preeclampsia in high-risk women. The relationships between sleep and cardiovascular disease have been established outside of pregnancy, there is little data on how poor sleep quality and sleep disorders may contribute to the development of adverse pregnancy outcomes such as preeclampsia, a hypertensive disorder of pregnancy associated with serious adverse pregnancy outcomes.  

Andrew Naidech, MD, MSPH, Associate Professor Department of Neurology, Feinberg School of Medicine will pursue research on cerebral infarction after intracerebral hemorrhage, a deadly form of stroke with no FDA-approved treatment. Patients with reduced platelet activity have an increased risk of poor outcome and death. Naidech’s research will examine the potential of Desmopressin (DDAVP), an FDA-approved treatment for other forms of platelet inactivity, as a treatment option for intercerebral hemorrhage.

Young Investigator Awards

 Jeffrey Allen, MD, Assistant Professor, Department of Neurology, Feinberg School of Medicine will examine dosage and tolerability of alpha-lipoic acid in patients at risk for neuropathy. Paclitaxel, a commonly used anti-neoplastic agent often causes neuropathy. When severe neuropathy develops, chemotherapy treatment regimens may need to be reduced or discontinued. Alphalipoic acid (ALA) is a promising agent for the prevention of paclitaxel neuropathy. The primary aim of this trial is to study the dose selection and tolerability of ALA when used in patients that receive paclitaxel during ovarian or breast cancer treatment.

Malek El Muayed, MD, MSCI, Department of Medicine, Endocrinology Division, Feinberg School of Medicine will study the mechanism by which cadmium impairs beta cell function without inducing global cell toxicity. The goal is to begin to translate these findings to human studies by examining the cadmium content of human islets obtained from diabetic and non-diabetic subjects.

Brian Layden, MD, PhD, Department of Medicine, Endocrinology Division, Feinberg School of Medicine, will examine role of short chain fatty acids and their receptors in human islets. Because of its association with obesity, type 2 diabetes is an epidemic in our society. The insulin resistance that develops from obesity results in pancreatic islet dysfunction. This research aims to identify the pathways that mediate the response of islets to insulin resistance.

Marc Slutzky, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Ken and Ruth Davee Department of Neurology/Physiology and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Feinberg School of Medicine will evaluate the potential for a myoelectric-computer interface in stroke rehabilitation Myoelectric-computer interfaces contain the potential to revolutionize rehabilitative medicine by improving function in patients with neurological deficits from disorders such as stroke, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, or dystonia.

Pilot grant awardees are supported in part by NIH grant UL1 RR025741 from the National Center for Research Resources. For more information on NUCATS pilot funding opportunities or opportunities across Northwestern, please contact Jim Bray at