Interdisciplinary Teams at Stony Brook Awarded Seed Funding for Cancer Research

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Stony Brook University’s College of Engineering and Applied Sciences and School of Medicine have embarked on an ambitious journey to advance engineering-driven medicine. Dubbed by some as the “third revolution in medicine,” convergence science integrates medicine and engineering to confront some of the big unanswered questions in healthcare, and enables technologies that seek to revolutionize how we deliver healthcare.

Together with the Stony Brook University Cancer Center, the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences and School of Medicine convened a gathering of clinicians, scientists and engineers to share ideas and stimulate creative collaboration aimed at some of the toughest challenges in cancer. Following this convergence science workshop, 15 collaborative proposals were submitted from teams across the entire University integrating a broad range of disciplines and expertise.

The following winning teams were selected to receive a total of $250K in seed funding to advance a range of innovative ideas at the intersection of engineering, physical sciences and oncology:

Developing a novel high throughput spatial genomics technology by in-tissue barcoding
Eric Brouzes, Biomedical Engineering
Jingfang Ju, Pathology
This team’s goal is to develop a platform that will enable direct mapping of genomic information onto tumors, thus maintaining spatial information that is crucial to understanding the interactions of cancer cells within their microenvironment. This strategy is designed to marry traditional pathology and state-of-the-art sequencing to develop better ways to understand and diagnose cancer.

Development of cancer-on-a-chip technology for the in-vivo study of tumor metabolism
Helmut H. Strey, Biomedical Engineering
David Rubenstein, Biomedical Engineering
Geoffrey Girnun, Pathology
Adam Rosebrock, Pathology
The interaction of cancer cells with their environment, especially regarding how they metabolize nutrients, plays an important role in their ability to grow and spread throughout the body (invasion and metastases). However, studying the metabolic interaction of cancer cells within a defined area is currently not feasible. This team of biologists and engineers is developing “cancer-on-a-chip” technology to recreate tumor-like environments in the laboratory. This technology is designed to help determine the nutrient requirements of individual cancer cells and ultimately the development of new metabolic biomarkers based on metabolic requirements.

Identification of gene regulatory networks for direct conversion of fibroblasts into bladder epithelia
Flaminia Talos, Urology and Pathology
Daifeng Wang, Biomedical Informatics
This project integrates computational and experimental efforts to discover the core gene regulatory networks contributing to bladder epithelia development. Like an engineering system, these core regulatory networks are organized based on certain engineering principles and coordinate as circuits to control bladder development. Any aberrant events in the network will drive the abnormal activities (i.e., bladder cancer). The team will provide the engineering principles of bladder gene circuits to be exploited in tissue reprogramming of fibroblasts into bladder epithelia for regenerative medicine applications needed for organ rehabilitation post-cystectomy in cancer patients and as a new platform for studies of bladder cancer initiation.

For more information about the competition, view the Call for Proposals. 

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