Early Career Mini-Grants


Array in Incubator

Applied BioPhysics would like to help young scientists obtain funding. The ECIS mini-grant is aimed at early career scientists who are applying for their first RO1 grant. For a researcher wanting to use ECIS technology to achieve their research goals, Applied BioPhysics will provide an ECIS instrument, ECIS arrays, and consultation in order to generate preliminary data to support the applicants RO1 proposal. Interested scientists should submit their research plan with a cover letter explaining how ECIS technology can be used to achieve their specific objectives. Applied BioPhysics will evaluate proposals based on scientific merit, suitability with ECIS technology and novelty

To apply please send a resume, RO1 research plan and cover letter to Christian Renken at renken@biophysics.com.


2011 ECIS Early Career Grant Recipient: Dr. Seema Sehrawat

Applied BioPhysics is proud to introduce Dr. Seema Sehrawat, Research Fellow at the Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, as the latest recipient of the Early Career ECIS Grant Program. This program fosters the prospects of young scientists to secure initial NIH funding for health related research.

Dr. Sehrawat is testing the hypothesis that viral and bacterial pathogens regulate PKA activity in a cAMP-dependent manner to regulate specific proteins/protein complexes. She will characterize a potentially novel protein complex containing AKAP9/Epac1 at the centrosome and its role in endothelial barrier function particularly in the context of viral and bacterial infection. Using the ECIS Z-Theta she will monitor endothelial barrier function and associated cell morphology changes on a real-time basis, to elucidate the signaling mechanisms involved.




2010 ECIS Early Career Grant Recipient: Dr. Sandra Wells

Dr. Wells' research focuses on the physiological mechanisms underlying the pathology of asthma. Her ultimate goal is to identify new therapeutic targets for treating this widespread disease.

Her ECIS Grant project explored the role of serotonin homeostasis in the pathophysiology of asthma. Accumulating evidence supports a role for the serotonergic system in the pathophysiology of asthma leading to speculation that the serotonin (5-HT) transmitter system might represent a novel therapeutic target for the treatment of asthma. However, the mechanisms responsible for altered 5-HT homeostasis in the lung, and the role of elevated 5-HT in the pathophysiology of asthma remain unknown. Utilizing a murine model of allergic inflammation, her research has shown that increased lung inflammation and reduced pulmonary function are associated with a greater than 2-fold elevation in lung 5-HT and a 2- to 4-fold reduction in lung SERT and MAO-A expression. In addition, significant levels of SERT, MAO-A and 5-HT were found in human bronchial epithelial cells.

To determine the functional consequences of elevated lung 5-HT, Dr. Wells utilized Electric Cell-Substrate Impedance Sensing (ECIS) to monitor epithelial barrier function, a key element in the pathogenesis of asthma. A dose-dependent reduction in barrier function was found in human lung epithelial cells following treatment with 5-HT. These findings have led to the hypothesis that reduced lung 5-HT uptake by SERT and inactivation by MAO-A worsens asthma through epithelial barrier dysfunction. In addition, the data provides support for the 5-HT transmitter system in the lung as a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of asthma.

Dr. Wells earned her Ph.D. in Microbiology at Columbia University in New York, New York and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in immunology at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. Subsequently, she worked for 9 years in the biotechnology industry as a regulatory and clinical scientist prior to returning to academic research in 2005. In 2009, Dr. Wells joined the faculty as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Environmental, Agricultural and Occupational Health in the College of Public Health at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. She has been awarded NIH funding to study mechanisms involved in the development and pathophysiology of asthma and is involved in the development of a multidisciplinary collaboration to assess health effects of environmental exposure to methamphetamine use and production in children, and serves on the National Advisory Board for the nonprofit organization National Alliance for Drug Endangered Children.