A major component of research in the Pappajohn Biomedical Institute (PBI) is to encourage interdisciplinary collaboration and to expose researchers to new ways of looking at problems. This spirit is built into the architecture and layout of each floor of laboratories in the Pappajohn Biomedical Discovery Building, which can find basic scientists working alongside computer engineers, or cardiologists collaborating with pediatricians. To help foster this approach, which is designed to increase the pace of discovery, the PBI has offered Convergence Seed Grants for the first time this year. These awards will provide up to $100,000/year to each team for up to two years, to conduct collaborative studies between investigators in disparate fields and separate departments.
Of the four funded proposals this year, one Convergence Grant has been awarded to a team’s proposal entitled, “Identifying Cystic Fibrosis Lung Disease Susceptibility Based on Chemical-Induced Gene Expression Signatures.” This team consists of PBI Director Dr. Mike Welsh, two members of Internal Medicine Dr. Alejandro Pezzulo and Dr. Lee Joseph, Dr. David Kristensen from Biomedical Engineering, Dr. Meng Wu from Pharmacy, and Dr. Patrick Breheny from Biostatistics. This funding will allow these investigators to test the feasibility of their ideas. It may also increase their competitiveness for extramural grants, produce intellectual property, and generate start-ups. Congratulations to the winners of this year’s Convergence Grants!