Pilot Grant Program: Request for Proposals

Research Objectives and Scope:

The objective of this pilot grant program is to foster the development of cohesive, ongoing multi-institution research initiatives organized around precision therapy. The program provides seed funding for collaborative teams to grow a more robust external public and private grant and contract portfolio. One of the goals of the SA PPT partners is to build a sustainable program that will eventually attract outside funding for your proposed research initiatives and for additional new research. Therefore, all applicants should provide sufficient rationale and evidence (1) for the strong probability of success of near future funding applications and (2) that such funding will benefit the efforts of the SA PPT mission. Award selections will be based on scientific merit, trajectory for success, and the collaborative and innovative nature of projects.

A brief email indicating your intent to submit a proposal is due Monday, March 16th, 5:00 PM CST to ltullis@sappt.org. You do not need to provide project details at this time. Full RFPs are due April 13th, 2020 5:00 PM CST to ltullis@sappt.org

In addition to the technical focus on Precision Therapeutics, the collaboration of the four partner institutions is also intended to highlight the breadth and depth of the combined expertise of the four partner institutions.  Proposals for projects to be funded by the SA PPT should describe the contributions of each entity and emphasize the way that project performance will enhance future technical collaborations amongst the entities.  Of the proposals that score well based on the evaluation of technical content, preferential consideration will be given to proposals that include participation by all of the partner institutions.

We will be updating the website with additional information on the unique assets of each Institution. If you need assistance in identifying the appropriate resource please contact:

Dr. Joanne Turner; Texas Biomed joanneturner@txbiomed.org
Dr. Andrea Giuffrida; UT Health SA giuffrida@uthscsa.edu
Dr. Bernard Arulanandam; UTSA bernard.arulanandam@utsa.edu
Dr. Michael MacNaughton; SwRI michael.macnaughton@swri.org

Download the full Request for Proposal and Budget Template here:

Key Events:

  • March 20th Pilot Grant Letter of Intent due
  • Provide link to the Pilot Grant Program Information
  • March (date  and location TBD) Capabilities Workshop
  • Researchers interested in learning about collaborative opportunities

San Antonio Partnership for Precision Therapeutics awards inaugural research funding

Research team awarded $200,000 to develop treatment for multi-organ failure due to sepsis

Leaders of the newly-established San Antonio Partnership for Precision Therapeutics (SA PPT) have awarded the partnership’s first research grant. A seven-person team researching sepsis-induced organ failure will receive $200,000 in funding over two years. The award’s purpose is to advance research and breakthroughs in precision therapeutics, which is the development of drug therapies for specific populations based on genetics, lifestyle and environment.

The team, led by Principal Investigator Dr. Madesh Muniswamy of UT Heath San Antonio, is studying the cause, prevention and treatment of multi-organ failure during sepsis. Sepsis occurs when an infection spreads to a patient’s blood or tissues causing a high risk of organ failure and death. According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 30 million people worldwide are affected by sepsis every year.

“Despite good antimicrobial therapies currently in use, some sepsis patients do not survive. Those that do survive often suffer compromised organ function and premature death,” Muniswamy said. “The goal of our research is to identify why some patients are more likely to die from sepsis and to develop a treatment that reduces organ dysfunction and damage after a sepsis diagnosis.”

The team is closely examining the mitochondrial calcium uniporter (MCU) channel that carries calcium to cells. In some sepsis patients, an overflow of calcium floods the channel, bombarding and killing healthy cells. When cells die, organs fail. The team aims to develop a drug therapy that controls the flow of calcium through the channel, allowing only necessary amounts of the element to reach cells.

The research project advances precision therapeutics by focusing on why some patients are more likely to experience MCU channel dysfunction and death. The team aims to uncover better treatment options for these patients. The long-term plan includes studying particular populations, such as Hispanic patients, who are at greater risk of sepsis complications.

“This is where precision therapeutics is key,” Muniswamy said. “Each patient is different. Some patients may require antibiotics only. Others may require combination therapies to recover. By administering multiple treatments at once, a sepsis patient may have a better chance of surviving and restoring organ function.”

The SA PPT received 12 research project submissions vying for funding. External reviewers unaffiliated with the SA PPT scored the six proposals that made it to the final round. The winning team’s proposal, Small Molecule Regulation of Mitochondrial Ca2+ Uniporter (MCU) Channel for Treatment of Multi-Organ Failure, received the top score. The presidents of the four institutions that make up the SA PPT — Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), Texas Biomedical Research Institute (TX Biomed), The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) and UT Health San Antonio — made the final selection. The team includes researchers from all four institutions.

Media Contacts:

Lisa Peña, Southwest Research Institute, lisa.pena@swri.org, 210-522-2046
Lisa Cruz, Texas Biomedical Research Institute, lcruz@txbiomed.org, 210-258-9437
Joe Izbrand, The University of Texas at San Antonio, joe.izbrand@utsa.edu, 210-458-8754
Heather Adkins, UT Health San Antonio, adkinsh3@uthscsa.edu, 210-567-1764