Bio-X to fund 21 new interdisciplinary research projects

Imagine going to your favorite clinic and swallowing a miniature TV camera that lets your doctor instantaneously examine the inside of your esophagus and stomach. Or imagine having your damaged cornea surgically replaced with an artificial one.

Such futuristic scenarios may become reality one day thanks to $3 million in grants awarded by Stanford University's Bio-X program this week. Twenty-one new interdisciplinary research projects - including the artificial cornea and wireless gastric endocapsule projects - will obtain funding from Bio-X during the next two to three years.

The grants were designed to encourage innovative research in the biological sciences among faculty, students and staff campuswide. This year's recipients include a surprisingly wide range of interdisciplinary projects - from experiments on how individual brain cells communicate in mice to research on how elephant herds communicate long distances by stomping their feet.

''The diversity of these projects is truly exciting,'' said Bio-X Chair Matthew P. Scott, a professor of developmental biology and of genetics. ''These seed grants are intended to boost collaborations among people from different departments and schools who hadn't worked together before.''

The wireless gastric endocapsule project, for example, is a collaboration between faculty members Jacques Van Dam of the School of Medicine and George Springer of the School of Engineering. Their goal is to find a substitute for invasive endoscopy - a standard diagnostic procedure in which a large probe is inserted in the patient's mouth and throat. Van Dam and Springer hope to design a wireless electronic capsule (''endocapsule'') that could be swallowed without sedation and would transmit images of ulcers, tumors and other gastric ailments in real time.

Another example of interdisciplinary collaboration is the artificial cornea project, which is spearheaded by three researchers in the Ophthalmology Depar

Contact: Mark Shwartz
Stanford University

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