2019 X-Grant Projects funded

Health Science Center faculty members part of five of the eight funded projects
June 12, 2019

Of the eight interdisciplinary research projects that will share $7 million in funding from Round 2 of Texas A&M University’s X-Grants program, five have faculty members from the Texas A&M University Health Science Center.

The X-Grants program is an initiative of the 10-year, $100 million President’s Excellence Fund.

“These eight projects are designed to have a significant impact on our health, educational systems, aging populations and the future of computing and artificial intelligence,” said Mark A. Barteau, vice president for research at Texas A&M. “Interdisciplinary projects such as these are critical components in solving the rich and complex challenges that face our world. We are thrilled about the broad range of expertise brought to these projects by Texas A&M researchers and look forward to the advances they will make working together.”

Those five funded projects are:

  • 3D bioprinted pancreas to treat type-I diabetes includes Robert C. Alaniz, PhD, director of the College of Medicine Cell Analysis Facility, director of the Core for Integrated Microbiota Research, and research assistant professor, College of Medicine; Kayla Bayless, PhD, associate professor, College of Medicine; and Travis W. Hein, PhD, professor, College of Medicine.
  • Biology hidden in RNA structures and modifications includes Jun-Yuan Ji, PhD, associate professor, College of Medicine, and Kristin Patrick, PhD, assistant professor, College of Medicine. 
  • Digital twin city for age-friendly communities: Crowd-biosensing of environmental distress for older adults includes Preeti Zanwar, PhD, MPH, MS, instructional assistant professor, School of Public Health. 
  • Engineering brain health: Developing an adaptive closed-loop optogenetic stimulator (CLOPS) to treat neurological and psychiatric disease has William Griffith, PhD, Regents Professor and head of the Department of Neuroscience and Experimental Therapeutics, College of Medicine, as co-leader. Karienn Souza Montgomery, PhD, research assistant professor, and Jun Wang, PhD, assistant professor, both at the College of Medicine, are also on the team. 
  • Mitigating mental health stigma in higher education through complementary facilitated dialogues, remote monitoring and telehealth counseling has Bita A. Kash, PhD, MBA, FACHE, director, NSF Center for Health Organization Transformation (CHOT), professor, School of Public Health, joint associate professor, College of Medicine; Israel Liberzon, MD, professor and head of the Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine; Carly McCord, PhD, director of Telebehavioral Health, clinical assistant professor, College of Medicine; and Cason Schmit, JD, research assistant professor, School of Public Health.

There were 161 one-page proposals submitted during the initial phase of X-Grants Round 2. Fifty-six were chosen for preliminary proposal submission, and 23 were selected for final proposal submission. A final review panel chose eight projects to fund.

— Christina Sumners