Some day, computers will be able to detect diseases inside your body . . . you`ll have your own personal vaccine to fight cancer . . . and damaged synapses in your nervous system will be replaced by electronic chips.
Such medical breakthroughs may happen sooner than expected, thanks to a decision this week by the Bio-X program awarding members of the Stanford faculty nearly $3.03 million for innovative biological projects.
Bio-X, a unique faculty-run program designed to promote interdepartmental bioscience research, became a reality one year ago following a $150 million donation from former engineering professor Jim Clark - the largest single gift to Stanford since the founding grant in 1885. Last spring, Bio-X awarded $7 million in grants to build and upgrade research facilities and laboratories.
At the same time, the newly formed Bio-X Interdisciplinary Initiatives Program Committee called on faculty members to propose imaginative new interdisciplinary, interactive research and educational projects in biology, medicine, computer science, engineering and other disciplines.
On Oct. 2, the committee announced that of 85 proposals submitted, 19 have been awarded seed grants averaging $158,000 over a two-year period. After that, researchers are expected to obtain independent funding, according to committee chair Harvey Cohen.
"One of the key criteria in our decision-making process was that a proposal had to be truly interdisciplinary," says Cohen, a professor of pediatrics in the School of Medicine.
A good example of that approach, he notes, is a proposal submitted by Carlo Tomasi, an assistant professor of computer science, along with Christopher Beaulieu and Sandy Napel, assistant and associate professors, respectively, of radiology in the School of Medicine. Their project - one of the 19 grant recipients - combines diagnostic radiology with state-of-the-art-computer imaging.