Pilot Projects

Funding for pilot projects

Director: Diana Milewicz, MD, PhD
Contact person: Hariyadarshi Pannu, PhD Hariyadarshi.Pannu@uth.tmc.edu 713-500-6865

The CCTS Pilot Project awards grants of up to $50,000 only to UTHealth assistant professors and instructors, to be used over 1 year for new, unfunded, hypothesis-driven clinical and translational research studies.  Basic-science studies and studies for which the applicant currently has funding will not be considered.  Proposals that involve collaborative teams from several CCTS institutions/schools (UTHealth schools, UT MD Anderson Cancer Center, and Memorial Hermann Hospital) are encouraged.  New investigators are encouraged to apply, and applications are also accepted from established investigators moving into new fields of endeavor in clinical and translational research.  (For more information see TL1 and KL2 Training Grants.)


 Approval from Sponsored Projects Administration is not required.

2015 Awardees
Valentin Dragoi, PhD * Neurobiology and Anatomy
UTHealth Medical School
New Optogenetics Tools for Dissecting Large-Scale Neuronal Circuits in Behaving Monkey
Refaat E. Gabr , PhD Diagnostic and Interventional Imaging
UTHealth Medical School
Patient Adaptive Scanning and Optimization of Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Nicholas Justice, PhD * Institute for Molecular Medicine
UTHealth Medical School
Transcriptomic Analysis of Corticotropin Releasing Factor (CRF) Neurons
Duck-Hee Kang, PhD , RN, FAAN UTHealth School of Nursing Cranial Stimulation for Symptom Reduction in the Palliative Care Setting
Richard J. Kulmacz, PhD Internal Medicine, Hematology
UTHealth Medical School
Pilot Study of Cytochrome b Reductase 1 (CYBRD1) and Erythrocyte Antioxidant Defenses
Mike K. Liang, MD Surgery
UTHealth Medical School
Patient-Reported Outcomes in Ventral Hernia Repair – A Qualitative Study
A.J. Marian, MD Institute for Molecular Medicine
UTHealth Medical School
Cleaved Plasma MYBPC3 As a Biomarker for Acute Myocardial Infarction and Heart Failure
David W. Marshak, PhD * Neurobiology and Anatomy
UTHealth Medical School
Structure and Function of G5 Retinal Ganglion Cells: A Connectomics Approach
Remesha Papanna , MD, MPH OB/GYN
UTHealth Medical School
Umbilical Cord Outer Layer as a Regenerative Patch for In-Utero Spina Bifida Repair
Stephanie Planque, PhD Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
UTHealth Medical School
Does HIV Develop Resistance to Antibodies Directed against a Linear CD4 Binding Site Epitope?
John Redell, PhD * Neurobiology and Anatomy
UTHealth Medical School
Characterizing Disruptions in Neural Circuit Connectivity after Mild TBI
Nahid Rianon, MD, DRPh Internal Medicine, Geriatrics
UTHealth Medical School
Association of Hip and Spine BMD with Trunk Fat Mass and Visceral Fat in an Older Diabetic Hispanic Population: A Pilot Study using CCHC Cohort Participants
Christophe P. Ribelayga, PhD * Ophthalmology and Visual Science
UTHealth Medical Science
A Unique Neuron in the Retina Controls Visual Contrast Sensitivity
Claudio Soto, PhD * Neurology
UTHealth Medical School
Production of a Human Cerebral Organoid Model of Alzheimer’s Disease
Qingchun Tong, PhD * Institute for Molecular Medicine
UTHealth Medical School
Deconstructing the Neurocircuit from LH to PVN that Regulates Feeding and Obsessive Behaviors

*Joint program with the UTHealth Neuroscience Research Center’s Mini-BRAIN initiative.

2014 Awardees
Yeonseok Chung, PhD Institute of Molecular Medicine
UTHealth Medical School
Interplay between Mast Cells and Type 2 Innate Lymphoid Cells in Chronic Rhino-sinusitis
Yi-Ping Li, PhD Integrative Biology and Pharmacology
UT Health Medical School
Significance of UBR2 Elevation in the Muscle of Cancer Patients with Cachexia
Siddharth Prakash, MD PhD Internal Medicine, Genetics
UTHealth Medical School
Genetic Risks for Bicuspid Aortic Valve Disease
Blanca Restrepo, PhD UTHealth School of Public Health
Brownsville Regional Campus
Impact of the Glucose-Lowering Medication Metformin on Blood Monocyte Immune Responses to Tuberculosis in Type 2 Diabetes Patients
Diane Santa Maria, DrPH, MSN, RN, APHN-BC Nursing Systems
UTHealth School of Nursing
Pilot and Feasibility Testing of a Clinic-to-Community Translation of a Parent-Based Adolescent Sexual Health Intervention
2013 Awardees
Ibrahim Aboshady, MD
L. Maximillian Buja, MD
Cardiovascular Surgery,
Pathology and Laboratory Medicine,
UTHealth Medical School
Infectious Diseases,
A Novel Triple Antimicrobial-Bonded Aortic Graft for the Prevention of Perioperative Aortic Infection
David G. Gorenstein, PhD
Kevin P. Rosenblatt, MD, PhD
David E. Volk, PhD
Anil K. Sood, MD
Menashe Bar-Eli, PhD
Pratip Bhattacharya, PhD
Gabriel Lopez-Berestein, MD*
Nanomedicine and Biomedical Engineering and Proteomics and Systems Biology,
UTHealth Medical School;
Gynecological Oncology, Cancer Biology, Experimental Diagnostic Imaging, and Experimental Therapeutics,
Personalized X-Aptamer-Nanoparticle Therapeutics for Ovarian or Melanoma Cancers and a Novel Detection Mechanism
Ariadne Letra, DDS, MS, PhD
Renato Silva, DDS, MS
UTHealth School of Dentistry
Pediatric Research Center,
UTHealth Medical School
Tooth Agenesis as a Clinical Marker for Cancer
Heinrich Taegtmeyer, MD, DPhil Cardiology,
UT Medical School
Reversal of Lipotoxicity Following Bariatric Surgery
Karen J. Vigil, MD
Roberto C. Arduino, MD
Infectious Diseases,
Internal Medicine,
UTHealth Medical School
Variations in the Blood and GI Microbiome of non-HIV-Infected Subjects and the Impact of Use of Antiretroviral Therapy for Post-Exposure Prophylaxis
Nadarjah Vigneswaran, BDS, DrMed Dent
Ann Gillenwater, MD, FACS
Diagnostic and Biomedical Sciences,
UTHealth School of Dentistry;
Head and Neck Surgery,
Autofluorescence Imaging and Quantitative Cytomorphometric Analysis of Oral Brush Biopsy for Early Detection of Oral Cancer in Fanconi Anemia Patients

*Multidisciplinary Research Program $125,000 awardee.

2010 Awardees
Timothy Ellmore, PhD* Neurosurgery
UTHealth Medical School
Lateralizing Memory Function in Epilepsy Patients with Oxygen-Enhanced fMRI
Patricia Evans, MD* Pediatrics
UTHealth Medical School
A Prototype Clinical Information Exchange to Improve Care and Reduce Costs for High-Risk Children
Camilo Jimenez, MD* Endocrine Neoplasia and Hormonal Disorders
Pilot Study of Clinical Validity of Veridex Cell Search™ Assay in Patients with Malignant Pheochromocytoma and Malignant Paraganglioma
Huiqi Qu, PhD* UTHealth Public Health
Brownsville Regional Campus
Exploration of Molecular Mechanisms of Tuberculosis Susceptibility by Genetic Association and Functional Genomics

*ARRA awardee.

2009 Awardees


Said Akli, PhD*

Experimental Radiation Oncology

LMW Cyclin E as a Novel Prognostic Marker in Human Salivary Gland Tumors

Sao Jiralerspong, MD, PhD*

Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

Snail as a Biomarker in Invasive Breast Cancer: Potential for Anti-metastasis Therapy

Hyunggun Kim, PhD*

Internal Medicine, Cardiology
UTHealth Medical School

Patient-Specific Structural Evaluation of Mitral Valve Apparatus using Three-Dimensional Echocardiography

Ajoy Samanta, PhD*

Molecular Pathology

Jak2 Regulates Bcr-Abl Signaling in Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML): Destruction of Bcr-Abl by Jak2 Inhibition in CML Stem Cells

Douglas Boyd, PhD**

Cancer Biology

Prostate Cancer in the US Air Force

Angela Stotts, PhD**

Family Medicine
UTHealth Medical School

Pilot Study of Bupropion to Promote Smoking Cessation during Pregnancy

*ARRA awardee
**Multidisciplinary Research Program $125,000 awardee.

2008 Awardees

Perry Bickel, MD*

Internal Medicine, Endocrinology UTHealth Medical School

Lipotoxicity and Obesity-Related Risk of Endometrial Carcinoma

Heinrich Taegtmeyer, MD, DPhil*

Internal Medicine, Cardiology
UTHealth Medical School

Pathways of Protein Degradation and Substrate metabolism in Normal and Diseased Heart and Vascular Smooth Muscle

*Multidisciplinary Research Program $125,000 awardee.

2007 Awardees
Lisa Armitage, MD, PhD Internal Medicine Infectious Diseases
UTHealth Medical School
Role of Trehalose Dimycolate in Human Tuberculosis
Andrew Bean, PhD Neurobiology and Anatomy
UTHealth Medical School
Examination of a Candidate Biomarker in Neuroblastoma
Richard Frye, MD, PhD Pediatrics and Neurology
UTHealth Medical School
Rapid Sensory Processing in Well and Poorly Compensated Young Adults with Dyslexia
Kevin Hwang, MD Internal Medicine General Medicine
UTHealth Medical School
Social Support for Weight Loss Among Members of an Internet Weight Loss Program
Elizabeth Plimack, MD Medical Oncology
The Biological Effects of Decitabine and Pegylated Interferon in Patients with Advanced Melanoma
Nitin Tandon, MD Neurosurgery
UTHealth Medical School
The Anatomic and Physiologic Connectivity of Eloquent Language Regions
Naoto Ueno, MD, PhD Stem Cell Transplantation and Cellular Therapy
Nonmyeloablative Allogeneic Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation with Bevacizumab for Advanced Solid Tumors
John Valenza, DDS Diagnostic Sciences
UTHealth Dental Branch
SmartConsent: A Computerized Informed Consent for Patients
Rick Wetsel, PhD Institute for Molecular Medicine
UTHealth Medical School
Transplantation of Lung Epithelial Cells Derived from Human Embryonic Stem Cells
2006 Awardees
Nehal Parikh, MD Pediatrics, Neonatology
UTHealth Medical School
Evaluation of DT-MRI as a Surrogate Marker for Neurosensory Deficits in Extremely Preterm Infants
Blanca Restrepo, PhD UTHealth Public Health Brownsville Regional Campus Altered Expression of Immune Response Genes in Tuberculosis Patients with Diabetes
Mary Ruppe, MD Internal Medicine, Endocrinology
UTHealth Medical School
The Role of Serum Profiles of Novel Phosphate Regulators in Improving Treatment Outcomes in X-Linked Hypophosphatemic Rickets
Tse-Kuan Yu, PhD Radiation Oncology UT MDACC Using Nanoshells Conjugated With Tumor-Specific Antibody to Detect Microscopic Breast Cancer Cells at Surgical Resection Margins