Pilot Programs

The RHIC sponsors small exploratory pilot projects with potential for a high level of innovation. The projects are eligible for funding at a level of $25,000 to $35,00 a year for a one-year period. Renewal for an additional year will be based on pilot project progress. Investigators will be asked to discuss their project progress at Rochester Human Immunology Center meetings once or twice per year. Suitable pilot projects will be small, exploratory projects with a high level of innovation. Projects that take advantage of existing clinical trials to analyze the immunological mechanisms underlying drug or vaccine efficacy or disease mechanism; and projects with the potential to advance utilization of developing technology for immune status assessments in man are encouraged. Although human immunology projects are preferred, projects involving animal models highly relevant to human disease will be considered. A brief proposal (maximum two pages) including introduction, project summary, and specific aims must be submitted electronically for review. Four to six investigators will be invited to present their proposals at Human Immunology seminars prior to the final selection of pilot projects by the RHIC Executive Committee and the RHIC External Advisory Board.  

New funding cycles will be announced yearly through the Rochester Human Immunology Center mailing list and through posted announcements through the URMC and River Campus.  If you would like to receive automatic updates about the RHIC, it is suggested that you join the mailing list. Pleast contact Sally Quataert to join. If you have any questions, please contact either Dr. Sally Quataert, 273-2454 or Dr. Tim Mosmann, 275-9120.   

Previously Funded Pilot Projects and Outcomes

“Discriminating between cell populations by optical spectroscopy and multivariate statistics” by Andrew Berger: Pilot funding and RHIC expertise supported analysis of cells using Raman spectroscopy and elastic scattering. A R21 proposal, "IRAM: Integrated Raman and Angular-scatter Microscopy" based on the pilot program data was funded.

“Application of label-free sensor systems in immunology: Use of Arrayed Imaging Reflectometry for the detection and quantitation of cytokines in human plasma.” by Ben Miller: This pilot project led to three publications for surface plasma refraction detection of biological markers, and is proposed as a directed development project because of its potential for low cost, high sensitivity, multiplexed optical sensor biomarker detection. This work also led to two awards to Pathologics, LLC (PI Chris Striemer, with Ben Miller as PI on URMC subcontracts): HHSN261200700042C, "Label-free Antibody Arrays for Cancer Diagnostics", 1R43ES016406-01, “A Rapid Label-Free Sensor for Immune Markers of Environmental Exposure”

“Near-infrared reflectance confocal imaging of immune cells in-vivo” by Jim Zavislan: The project demonstrated feasibility in in vivo near-infrared reflectance confocal imaging in human skin of T and B cell activation responses in delayed-type hypersensitivity, and the results are being applied in clinical studies.

“Transfection of cell arrays using femtosecond lasers” by Wayne Knox: Transfection was attempted in human and monkey cells by targeting the cells with tightly-focused 27 fs laser pulses. The microscope is currently being re-designed to provide more control over the location and movement of the laser beam.

“Overcoming the possible immunosupression from human regulatory T-cells and negative co-stimulatory molecules in non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL); A strategy to augment the efficacy of immunotherapy”, by Steve Bernstein and Shannon Hilchey. Magnetic bead removal of unusually potent T regulatory (CD4+CD25+) cells from lymphoma lymph node cell populations allowed proliferation of tumor infiltrating CD4+ CD25- lymph node cells. This data formed the basis of funded RO1 grant.

“The Role of human IL-2+IFNg-IL-4- CD4+ T helper cells in helping B cell antibody secretion.” by Anagha Divekar and Tim Mosmann: We have identified cognate and bystander help for B cell proliferation and antibody secretion by tetanus- and influenza-specific human Th1, Th2 and Thpp cells. This Pilot provided preliminary data for the successful NYICE contract.

There are new funding opportunities for 2009. Please go to the following page to read more!

Pilot Proposals