Reddy leads research project chosen for funding in X-Grants program

Proposal aims to help reduce prevalence and burden of brain disorders
July 16, 2020

A Texas A&M University College of Medicine faculty member’s research proposal has been selected for funding in Round 3 of the interdisciplinary X-Grants program, part of the 10-year, $100 million President’s Excellence Fund at Texas A&M University.

Samba Reddy, PhD, RPh, professor of neuroscience and experimental therapeutics, is the leader of a research proposal entitled “Electroceuticals as Artificial Intelligence-based Smart Therapies for Brain Disorder.” Reddy’s is the only grant from the Texas A&M College of Medicine principal leadership to be selected for Round 3 of funding.

This project also includes co-leader Roderic Pettigrew, MD, PhD, executive dean for the Engineering Medicine (EnMed) program, and member L. Gerard Toussaint, MD, associate professor of neuroscience and experimental therapeutics and neurosurgeon at CHI St. Joseph Health.

“It’s an honor to organize and lead our X-Grant project from five different colleges and two clinical units,” Reddy said. “I’m immensely proud of and grateful to our entire team.”

The X-Grants program is designed to bring faculty together across disciplines with ideas that will address important problems facing global society today. A total of $7 million was devoted to this round of the program, contributing to a mix of smaller dollar amount awards and larger funding scope collaborative research awards to help stimulate and back the innovative research.

Reddy’s project will create miniature artificial intelligence-based nerve-stimulating electrical devices, known as smart electroceuticals (EC), for the treatment of neurological disorders. Many patients who have brain disorders live with disabilities due to the lack of effective therapies.

The EC therapy involves interpreting the abnormal neural circuitry happening in the patient’s brain and delivering impulses to specific places in order to reestablish neural function. Smart ECs would benefit many patients with epilepsy, migraines and depression—and even dogs that have epilepsy. Reddy’s proposal aims to establish a smart EC platform through the use of team-based convergence of engineering, medical and industrial approaches.

Reddy’s team envisions that these smart ECs would offer advanced therapy with high efficacy, all the while inspiring a new revolution in neurotherapeutics to evolve. Their ultimate goal is to introduce ECs into clinical practice and to help reduce the prevalence of brain disorders.

In addition to Reddy’s project, two other projects in the X-Grants program chosen for funding in Round 3 included College of Medicine faculty.

Kayla J Bayless, PhD, associate professor at the College of Medicine, is a member in a project entitled “A multidisciplinary platform for the identification of cancer and COVID-19 therapeutics,” which aims to establish a multidisciplinary drug discovery team that identifies anti-COVID-19 and anti-cancer therapeutics.

The other project entitled “Engineering Nanomedicine for Non-invasive Cancer Therapy” is co-led by Robert YL Tsai, MD, PhD, associate professor at the College of Medicine and Texas A&M Health Institute of Biosciences and Technology. The project aims to engineer novel smart personalized nanomedicine for non-invasive treatment of brain tumors.

This year, there were 142 proposals submitted to the X-Grants program, 43 of which were chosen to submit preliminary proposals. Only 22 of those were selected to submit final proposals. The review panel chose the top eight proposals for funding after evaluating oral presentations and reviews of final proposals.

— Gracie Blackwell