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Seed Grant Program

2024 Request for Applications

The DDI Seed Grant Program is now accepting applications for 2024. Full-time University of Houston faculty members (tenured, tenure-track, or non-tenure-track research/clinical faculty) are eligible to apply. Other investigators employed by UH may be listed as co-investigators. Each application responding to the RFA should be submitted by an interdisciplinary research team with co-principal investigators (Co-PIs) from at least two different colleges, each of whom receives at least 20% of the funds, aiming at building university-wide capabilities in new drug discovery and development.

For this fiscal year, we anticipate making four awards of $50,000 each, totaling $200,000. The funding period is up to 18 months, with a starting date of June 1, 2024. Proposals are due by Tuesday, April 9.

Catalyzing Multidisciplinary Research

The purpose of the UH Drug Discovery Institute seed grant program is to catalyze multidisciplinary research teams with seed funds that would facilitate preparation and submission of competitive extramural drug discovery and development research proposals.

The seed funding grant program supports the University thrust for Drug Discovery and Development that the Vice President for Research and the Provost developed in consultation with the college deans, and which the Chancellor has endorsed. This seed grant program is also aiming at supporting the University 50-in-5 initiative and the UH Strategic Plan. Each application responding to this RFA should be submitted by an interdisciplinary research team with principal investigators from at least two different colleges, aiming at building university-wide capabilities in new drug discovery and development. In addressing the unmet needs of current academic drug discovery centers, the DDI will encourage applicants to utilize innovative, advanced technology/platform such as artificial intelligence (AI) and cutting-edge technologies to discover and develop new therapeutics for human diseases.

It is expected that data from funded seed grants will be used to support strong federal or state grant applications. Applicants should include a plan and timeline for external grant submission (see Reporting Requirements below). Subsequent applications should represent a substantial return on investment, with all the planned submissions through the Drug Discovery Institute.

Seed Grant Recipients

Electrochemical Method to Generate Gradient-Based High Throughput Screening Assay
PI: Ran An
Co-PI: T. Randall Lee

Al-Driven Scoring for Virtual Screening of Peptide-Based Ligands
PI: Dinler Antunes
Co-PI: Gregory Cuny

Past Seed Grant Recipients

Brain Permeable PI3K Isoform Specific Inhibitor for Brain Metastases
PI: Xinli Liu (Pharmacy)
Co-PI: Weiyi Peng (Center for Nuclear Receptors & Cell Signaling)

CRISPR-edited CAR NK Cells for Advanced Prostate Cancer
PI: Qin Feng (Biology)
Co-PI: Xinli Liu (Pharmacy)

Novel Micropatterned Substrates for Cell Motility in 3D Aggregates of Ovarian Cancer
PI: Tasneem Bawa-Khalfe (NSM)
Co-PI: Fatima Merchant (Engineering Technology)

Targeting ADGRF1 (GPR110) in HER2+ breast cancer
PI: Meghana Trivedi (Pharmacy)
Co-PI: Tasneem Bawa-Khalfe (NSM)

Discovery of a novel inhibitor of IL-15 receptor for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis
PI: Bin Guo (Pharmacy)
Co-PI: Gomika Udugamasooriya (Pharmacy)
Co-PI: Chandra Mohan (Engineering)

Novel Targeted Therapy for Hepatocellular Carcinoma
PI: Wei Wang (Pharmacy)
Co-PI: Wa Xian (NSM)