Seed Grants Program

The Flinn Foundation’s 2022 Seed Grants to Promote Translational Research Program will fund up to 10 research teams focused on advancing new products or services to improve patient care. The teams must be affiliated with Arizona’s academic research institutions and/or health-care systems.  

The awardees will each receive a $100,000 grant over 18 months. At the end of the grant period, up to two of the most successful projects may receive up to an additional $100,000 over the following year. 

The application for the next round of the program is now open. The deadline to apply is Dec. 3. 

The proposed projects must address compelling clinical needs in the areas of precision medicine, diagnostics, devices, therapeutics, or health-care-delivery processes and have significant potential to turn bench results into viable products or systems impacting patients in Arizona and beyond. 

There is more information about the program benefits, eligibility, and expectations in the program brochure.

Key Program Dates

Seed Grants to Promote Translational Research Program Application
Seed Grants to Promote Translational Research Program Brochure
Required Letter of Support Form (to be signed by Vice President of Research or their designee)
Virtual Office Hours Registration (October 6)
Virtual Office Hours Registration (November 3)
Virtual Office Hours Registration (December 1)
Seed Grants to Promote Translational Research Information Session Presentation

Background

In 2002, the Flinn Foundation commissioned the creation of Arizona’s Bioscience Roadmap, the long-term strategic plan to advance Arizona’s bioscience sector. The plan, which was updated in 2014, includes five overarching goals.

The second goal is “to increase the ability of research-performing institutions to turn bench research results into improved disease and illness prevention, detection, and treatment.” 

The Seed Grants to Promote Translational Research Program helps the state reach this goal by funding research projects that focus on creating new products and services to benefit patients. 

The program has awarded 41 grants totaling $5.29 million since 2013. 

For more information about the program, contact Mary O’Reilly, Ph.D., Vice President, Bioscience Research Programs, at moreilly@flinn.org or Juliet Gomez, Bioscience Program Manager, at jgomez@flinn.org.


Learn more about the Flinn Foundation’s Bioscience Grants
Learn more about the Flinn Foundation Bioscience Entrepreneurship Program

Recently Funded Seed-Grant Projects

2021

Arizona State University with Barrow Neurological Institute:  Minimally Invasive Neuromodulation of Occipital Nerve to Mitigate Chronic Migraine 

The project seeks to develop a portable, hand-held, neurostimulation system for a patient to use for a few minutes at a time to mitigate pain during an episode of chronic migraine. The injectable neurostimulation technique will provide the spatial precision of implanted microscale leads. This could bring relief to 1.4-2.2% of the world’s population that is impacted by chronic migraine and suffer with migraines about 15 or more days per month.

Arizona State University with Mayo Clinic Arizona: FlexBioTech Fluorescence-Based Testing for Point of Need Diagnostics

The project will adapt the current implementation of the ASU COVID-19 diagnostic system to a point-of-need diagnostic to fulfill the need of remote testing with high sensitivity. The diagnostic, which uses a robust, multiplexed, quantitative, pocket-size system, could be used for early detection of COVID-19 in developing countries. The testing relies on smartphones for the cloud storage of data and computational resources for algorithms.

Northern Arizona University with Barrow Neurological InstituteDevelopment of a Novel Balloon-Stent Device to Improve the Embolization of Aneurysms

The project’s focus is to develop, refine, and validate a novel medical device to treat aneurysms in the brain. The prototype could be used in conjunction with current available devices and would minimize the risk of stroke effects in the short-term, and aneurysm rupture in the long-term. The balloon-stent device would provide surgeons more time to deploy embolics without blood flow arrest while obtaining more complete aneurysm treatments.

Translational Genomics Research InstituteN-GARD: A 21st Century Solution to Age-old Healthcare Problem – Antibiotic Resistance

The project will update a research-use-only antimicrobial resistance detection tool, N-GARD, which can detect hundreds of different causes of drugresistance in healthcare infections. The tool would then be validated for clinical use and adopted by TGen for use on patient specimens. The project is needed as personalized treatment requires that clinicians receive rapid, comprehensive information on a patient’s infection and likely response to therapy.

Translational Genomics Research Institute: Prevention of Inherited Genetic Disease using Whole Genome Sequencing

The project will develop tools needed to analyze entire genome sequences of couples to determine if they are at risk for transmitting an incurable genetic disorder if they become pregnant, define the limitations of such testing, address ethical and moral issues that might arise, explore issues of reimbursement for such tests, and also develop a consistent approach for genetic counseling of such couples.

University of Arizona: Enabling the Early Diagnosis of Chronic Lung Diseases with a Blood-Based Metabolomics Diagnostic Powered by Machine Learning

The project will develop a blood test that can diagnose chronic lung diseases at the onset of symptoms that is less invasive and costly. Today, it often takes between two and four years to make a correct diagnosis of the often-fatal lung diseases because of the non-specific symptoms. The new blood test would allow patients to learn their diagnosis within days and start therapeutic intervention when the responsiveness to treatment is still high.

University of Arizona with Banner University Medical Center -Tucson: A Microbiota-Sparing Live Biotherapeutic for C. difficile infection

The project looks to establish a novel treatment for the deadly bacterial pathogen C. difficileC. difficile infections, or CDI, are the most common healthcare-associated infection in many hospitals and there are currently no preventive treatments or vaccines for the disease. The researchers will further study their non-antibiotic, orally palatable therapeutic, Syn-LAB, with the hope of moving the treatment into clinical development.

2019

Arizona State University, in partnership with Mayo Clinic Arizona: Designing biomimetic fibrous scaffolds with spatially controlled mineralization for augmenting rotator-cuff repair

The project’s goal is to develop innovate tissue-engineered therapeutics for rotator-cuff repair. Rotator-cuff tears are common and re-tear rates can be as high as 90 percent. The project will develop new gradient materials that can mimic the natural gradients in the tendon-to-bone interfacial tissue and serve as a template for controlling tissue repair. The goal is for the new materials to have applications outside this project, including anterior cruciate ligament, meniscus, and other fibrous tissues.

HonorHealth Research Institute, in partnership with University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix and MicrosoftDevelopment of a virtual-reality platform to enhance patient health literacy and clinical-trials informed consent.

The project proposes a first-of-its-kind digital tool exploiting augmented-reality and virtual-reality environments, combined with novel algorithms, to allow for deeper patient engagement. The goal would be to improve health literacy for patients to make better decisions, including improving the ability to comprehend benefits, risks, and alternatives to the procedure or therapy considered. The tool would also benefit cancer patients searching for potentially life-prolonging clinical trials.

Northern Arizona University, in partnership with TGen and Los Alamos National Laboratory: Pre-clinical testing of mathematical model prediction of RAF inhibitor effects in humanized zebrafish

The emphasis for this project is treatment of melanoma, the most lethal type of skin cancer, with the hope of using the treatment approach on numerous kinase-driven cancers. Various targeted therapies have been successful for some patients with melanoma, while the same treatments given to other patients have failed. The goal is to leverage a computational pipeline that predicts therapeutic responses to novel combinations of FDA-approved drugs in cancer cell lines and in humanized zebrafish harboring melanoma skin cancer.

St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center/Barrow Neurological Institute: Identification of Biomarkers for Idiopathic CIDP, CIDP with MGUS and Diabetic CIDP

The study will identify blood-based biomarkers that will enable early and effective treatments for people with chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy, a neurological disorder, along with diabetics with CIDF. The disorder leads to progressive weakness and impaired sensory function in the legs and arms.  While there is effective treatment if the disease is identified early, diagnosis can be difficult, especially if the patient is also diabetic.

St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center / Barrow Neurological Institute, in partnership with Vanderbilt University and Philips Healthcare: Establishing a real-time analysis plug-in for clinical perfusion imaging

The project is developing a critical new option for brain-tumor patient management that would remove the need for surgical biopsy to confirm therapeutic response—a standard-of-care approach that increases cost and morbidity. The project hopes to establish an automated and real-time acquisition and analysis pipeline that enables true clinical translation of a perfusion-imaging protocol.

TGen, in partnership with Mayo Clinic ArizonaAn innovative application for diabetes personalized care

The project aims to improve life-long patient compliance with insulin site rotation for patients with Type 1 diabetes and some patients with Type 2 diabetes. The plan is to develop an application for iOS and Android mobile platforms that employs a novel algorithm to better guide insulin site rotation, which reduces the risk of lipohypertrophy, infection, flare, skin injury, scarring, and irritation.

Translational Genomics Research Institute, in partnership with Mayo Clinic Arizona: Optimizing treatment of metastatic breast cancer through real-time disease monitoring

The project hopes to address the gap in monitoring response to treatment in patients with metastatic breast cancer, an incurable disease. Imaging is used to monitor the disease in the standard-of-care treatment, which can only be repeated at two-month intervals, leaving patients potentially exposed to ineffective therapy and delaying revised treatment plans. This proposal will use circulating tumor DNA analysis to bridge the two-month gap.

University of Arizona Department of Biomedical Engineering: A soft, battery-free, wireless, and wearable digital-health platform for continuous frailty assessment

The project will enable providers to monitor health status and diagnose, manage, and treat patients in and outside the clinic. The proposed device, which could be worn for weeks at a time by relying on wireless energy sources, will be tested on older patients who are frail. The flexible device will serve as an alternative to the current hardware for wireless data collection.

2018

Arizona State University in partnership with Mayo Clinic Arizona: An Integrated Metagenomics and Immunoproteomics Study of the Role of Microbiome in Pouchitis Development

The project will establish an Arizona-based infrastructure to collect biobank samples to be accessed by a network of gastroenterologists, including academic and community physicians, to conduct a pilot study that would provide insight into the role of the microbiome over time, specifically as it relates to the development of ulcerative colitis, a chronic inflammatory bowel disease. The creation of the new infrastructure is expected to improve the chances of these researchers receiving NIH funding in the future.

HonorHealth Research Institute in partnership with TGen: Development of Novel Methods to rapidly credential combination therapies for incurable colorectal cancer using Next Generation Sequencing and organoid cultures from patient

The project seeks to use a patient’s tissue to find drug combinations to treat colorectal cancer. The researchers will use RNA-sequencing analysis to identify pathways and predict drug combinations specific to each colorectal cancer patient. The organoid platform will allow growth of the patient’s tumor in the lab and thus the ability to identify the best therapy for the individual patient. HonorHealth Research Institute will be working with Translational Genomics Research Institute and its certified genomic testing lab on the project.

Northern Arizona University in partnership with Mayo Clinic Arizona: Gut Microbiome Manipulation for Treatment of Asthma

This study will look to determine whether prebiotic fiber supplementation can lead to improved clinical asthma outcomes. Asthma is affected by genetic and environmental factors, which may include the Western diet that is high in sugar and saturated fats but low in fiber. The researchers’ theory is that increased fiber will lead to changes in the gut microbiome and in asthma disease outcomes.

Northern Arizona University in partnership with Yuma Regional Medical Center: Health Disparities Associated with Fungicide Exposure Among Residents of Yuma

This project will investigate health disparities associated with fungicide exposure among migrant farmworkers and other Yuma-area residents. The goal is to develop precision-medicine screening and interventions to reduce the impact of environmental contaminants in high-exposure populations. The study, using human and rodent hair samples, will examine associations between concentrations of metals used in fungicides and adverse health outcomes.

St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center/Banner Neurological Institute in partnership with Banner Alzheimer’s Institute: Pituitary Adenylate Cyclase Activating Polypeptide (PACAP)

This project will test the hypothesis that significant changes in pituitary adenylate cyclase activating polypeptide (PACAP) and Sirt3 levels can be detected in early-stage Alzheimer’s disease and be used to predict progression from mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimer’s. One goal is to determine whether cerebrospinal fluid levels of PACAP and Sirt3 differ between cognitively normal patients and those with mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer’s disease. The study could identify a biomarker and provide the foundation for early diagnosis of the disease and new therapies.

St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center/Banner Neurological Institute in partnership with Banner Alzheimer’s Institute: Pituitary Adenylate Cyclase Activating Polypeptide (PACAP) 
 
This project will test the hypothesis that significant changes in pituitary adenylate cyclase activating polypeptide (PACAP) and Sirt3 levels can be detected in early-stage Alzheimer’s disease and be used to predict progression from mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimer’s. One goal is to determine whether cerebrospinal fluid levels of PACAP and Sirt3 differ between cognitively normal patients and those with mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer’s disease. The study could identify a biomarker and provide the foundation for early diagnosis of the disease and new therapies. 

University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix and College of Pharmacy-Tucson in partnership with Banner Health: Large-scale Implementation of Pharmacogenomics: Translating Genotype-Guided Warfarin Dosing from Discovery to the Bedside

This project will use a patient’s data, such as age, weight, and current medications, along with genetic data, to better predict an initial dose of warfarin. Today, the generic starting dose of warfarin results in patients being under- or overdosed, increasing the risk of blood clots and bleeding. An electronic medical record will be established so doctors across many western hospitals would be aware of the patient’s personalized warfarin dose. The study will focus on Hispanics and African Americans, who are traditionally underrepresented in warfarin testing.