Spectrum awards more than $1 million in pilot grants to 30 projects

Stanford’s clinical and translational research center has awarded funding to teams of multidisciplinary investigators who are tackling health-care problems through novel approaches.

- By Kris Newby

Thirty biomedical projects at Stanford have received a total of $1.1 million in research funding through the Spectrum pilot grant program.

Spectrum, the Stanford Center for Clinical and Translational Research and Education, is focused on accelerating the translation of medical research from bench to bedside. Its pilot grants are awarded to investigators with bold ideas that address health-care problems through novel approaches and multidisciplinary teams.

This year, Spectrum awarded grants in five areas: medical technologies; therapeutics; population health; community engagement; and predictive tools and diagnostics. Awardees are mentored by teams of experts in each of these areas.

Seven additional grants were awarded through the Stanford Learning Health Care Innovation Challenge for projects that improve the health of patient populations served by Stanford Health Care. These grants are funded by Stanford Health Care in partnership with Spectrum.

The principal investigators and projects receiving funds are:

Medical technologies

  • “Automated real-time monitoring of differentiated stem cells for quality assurance in regenerative medicine applications.” Bertha Chen, MD, professor of obstetrics and gynecology; and Thomas Baer, PhD, executive director of the Stanford Photonics Research Center.
  • “Passive home monitor for early detection of asthma exacerbations in children.” David Cornfield, MD, professor of pediatrics.
  • “A novel device for treating chronic wound infections.” Peter Lorenz, MD, professor of surgery.
  • “Targeted topical therapy to treat inflammatory bowel disease using a novel thermosensitive delivery platform.” Sidhartha Sinha, MD, instructor of medicine; Aida Habtezion, MD, MSc, assistant professor of medicine.
  • “A low-cost, rapid, point-of-care nucleic-acid-based detection system.” Stephen Quake, PhD, professor of bioengineering and of applied physics; and Nate Cira, graduate student in bioengineering. (The investigators on this project also will be mentored by a “predictives and diagnostics” team.)


  • “Development of a therapeutic and companion diagnostic for TREM1.” Katrin Andreasson, MD, professor of neurology and neurological sciences.
  • “Development of novel small molecule therapeutic for cancer.” Peter Jackson, PhD, professor of microbiology and immunology and of pathology.
  • “Novel topical treatment for resistant basal cell carcinoma.” Ramon Whitson, PhD, dermatology fellow; and Anthony Oro, MD, PhD, professor of dermatology.
  • “Evaluation of novel medical treatment for interstitial cystitis: an unmet clinical need.” Amandeep Mahal, MD, urology fellow; and Craig Comiter, MD, professor of urology.

Population health sciences

  • “Assessment of novel outcomes in the Women’s Health Initiative using Medicare claims: An exploration of a new administrative and clinical trial data linkage opportunity at Stanford.” Jacqueline Baras Shreibati, MD, cardiology fellow; and Mark Hlatky, MD, professor of medicine and of health research and policy.
  • “Post-traumatic stress disorder, deployment stress and pregnancy outcomes among active duty U.S. Army soldiers.” Lianne Kurina, PhD, associate professor of medicine; and Jonathan Shaw, MD, MS, clinical assistant professor of medicine.
  • “Curating National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey genetic data for sociogenomic modeling.” David Rehkopf, ScD, MPH, assistant professor of medicine; and Benjamin Domingue, PhD, assistant professor of education.
  • “Designing cluster-randomized trials that are less susceptible to interference across levels of the treatment: with application, data sharing and software.” Michael Baiocchi, PhD, assistant professor of medicine; and David Rogosa, PhD, associate professor of education.
  • “Health insurance design and international differences in health at older ages.” Maria Polyakova, PhD, assistant professor of health research and policy; and Petra Persson, PhD, assistant professor of economics.
  • “Using anthropometrics to assess the impact of a novel multidisciplinary social enterprise intervention on population health in the Democratic Republic of Congo.” Yvonne Maldonado, MD, professor of pediatrics and of health research and policy; and Marcella Alsan, MD, PhD, MPH, assistant professor of medicine.
  • “Desmoid tumors for big data linkage.” Shivaani Kummar, MD, professor of medicine; and Ann Hsing, PhD, professor of medicine.

Community engagement

  • “Muslim Community Association of Santa Clara and Stanford Muslims and Mental Health Research Lab: Strengthening an emerging community-based participatory research collaboration.” Rania Awaad, MD, clinical instructor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences.
  • “Patient provider race concordance and the preventive health-seeking behavior of black men.” Marcella Alsan, MD, assistant professor of medicine.
  • “Community first-responder training for medical emergencies: Empowering Bay Area high school students.” Henry Curtis, MD, clinical instructor of emergency medicine.

Predictives and diagnostics

  • “Prospective validation of a three-gene set for diagnosis of tuberculosis and prognosis of treatment response.” Purvesh Khatri, PhD, assistant professor of medicine; and Jason Andrews, MD, assistant professor of medicine.
  • “Improving early HIV detection with an ultrasensitive oral fluid antibody test.” Carolyn Bertozzi, PhD, professor of chemistry; and Mark Pandori, PhD, associate clinical professor of laboratory medicine at UC-San Francisco.
  • “Point-of-care diagnostics for resource-poor settings: An ultra-low-cost portable centrifuge.” Manu Prakash, PhD, assistant professor of bioengineering; and Saad Bhamla, PhD, bioengineering research fellow.
  • “Sentry AI: Harnessing machine learning for the early detection and diagnosis of melanoma.” Roberto Novoa, MD, clinical assistant professor of dermatology and of pathology; and Sebastian Thrun, PhD, professor of computer science.

Stanford Learning Health Care Innovation Challenge

  • “Accuracy of weekly self-reporting of health-care utilization, infectious disease and antibiotic use among pregnant women and their infants.” Julie Parsonnet, MD, professor of medicine and of health research and policy; and Jon Krosnick, PhD, professor of communication.
  • “Electronic patient portal-enabled clinical decision support to improve health maintenance: A randomized evaluation.” Lance Downing, MD, fellow in clinical informatics; and Paul Heidenreich, MD, professor of medicine.
  • “Creation and use of decision aids fueled by patient-reported outcomes: Building the bridge between doctor and patient for improved shared decision-making.” Cindy Kin, MD, assistant professor of surgery; Kate Bundorf, PhD, MPH, associate professor of health research and policy.
  • “Data-driven mammography decision support: Analyzing images and reports to improve breast cancer diagnosis.” Daniel Rubin, MD, assistant professor of radiology and of medicine; and Francisco Gimenez, PhD, bioinformatics fellow.
  • “Precision surgical care: Risk and treatment stratification using a novel learning health system.” Sean Mackey, MD, PhD, professor of anesthesiology, perioperative and pain medicine.
  • “Low cost accelerometers for profiling early mobilization progress following spinal surgery.” Allen Ho, MD, neurosurgery resident; Arjun Pendharkar, MD, neurosurgery resident; Eric Sussman, MD, neurosurgery resident; and Atman Desai, MD, clinical assistant professor of neurosurgery.
  • “A population-wide analysis of emergency department length of stay for patients undergoing interfacility transfer for severe psychiatric illness.” Suzanne Lippert, MD, MS, clinical assistant professor of emergency medicine; and Nancy Ewen Wang, MD, professor of emergency medicine.


Spectrum pilot grants are administered by Stanford Biodesign (medical technologies), SPARK (therapeutics), Population Health Sciences, the Office of Community Health (community engagement) and the Stanford Predictives and Diagnostics Accelerator (predictives and diagnostics). Primary funding comes from Spectrum’s $45.3 million Clinical and Translational Science Award (UL1TR001085) from the National Institutes of Health.

About Stanford Medicine

Stanford Medicine is an integrated academic health system comprising the Stanford School of Medicine and adult and pediatric health care delivery systems. Together, they harness the full potential of biomedicine through collaborative research, education and clinical care for patients. For more information, please visit med.stanford.edu.

2023 ISSUE 3

Exploring ways AI is applied to health care