As part of the Forward Together Strategic Plan, the UNC School of Medicine committed $100,000 this year to fund pilot neuroscience research projects through the NeuroSpark event. The goal of NeuroSpark funding is to increase collaborations in the neurosciences and to incentivize faculty to generate pilot data for use in grants to the NIH and other external agencies. This is the second year of a five-year commitment for NeuroSpark from the school of medicine.
Eight neuroscience research teams at the school of medicine competed for four $25,000 pilot grants. Each team gave a 12-minute pitch at the NeuroSpark event attended by graduate students, postdocs, lab members and faculty. Following the presentations, attendees voted for the top four projects. The four teams that received the most votes were selected as winners. Two Department of Genetics faculty members were members of winning teams.
Jason Stein (PhD, Associate Professor of Genetics, member of Neuroscience Center) and Rose Mary Xavier (PhD, Assistant Professor in School of Nursing) were awarded a pilot grant for their project titled “CLOZiPS: Mechanisms of Clozapine Response Using iPSC-derived Organoids”.
Anthony Zannas (MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Genetics), Jose Rodriquez-Romaguera (PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, member of Neuroscience Center and Carolina Institute for Development Disabilities), Nicolas Pegard (PhD, Assistant Professor of Applied Physical Sciences), and Rebecca Grzadzinski (PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and member of Carolina Institute for Development Disabilities) were awarded a pilot grant for their project titled “Tracking Arousal Responses with a BOP (Biometric Ocular Photometer)”.