Pilot Grants

Pilot Grants image

The goal of the CUIJBP is to foster innovative collaborative research amongst multiple disciplines to advance our understanding of the etiology of inflammatory and degenerative joint diseases. Since the program’s inception we have funded two rounds of pilot programs. The recipients of the pilot awards and the descriptions of their projects are included below. 

We will post funding opportunities through this mechanism for future awards here. 

The 2022-2023 IJBP Pilot Awardee

Brain Circuits of Acute and Chronic Joint Pain

Yoni Asher, PhD 

The goal of this project is to investigate if functional MRI can be used to study the distinct brain pathways supporting acute vs. chronic knee pain and to develop an initial brain biomarker predictive of chronic knee pain in patients.


The 2021-2022 IJBP Pilot Awardees

RNA Profiling and Multispectral Immunohistochemical Analysis of Complement and Other Innate Immune Factors in the Synovium Following Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury

Nirmal K. Banda, PhD and Rachel M. Frank, MD

The two primary aims of this pilot project will be to quantitate complement gene expression and innate immune factors from synovial tissue and blood after ACL injury and to determine, using multispectral immunohistochemistry, complement protein expression and innate immune cells in synovial tissue at the time of ACL injury.

Examination of Body Mass Index and Inflammation as Contributors to End Stage Osteoarthritis

Patrick Carry, MS and Cheryl Ackert-Bicknell, PhD 

Using a Mendelian randomization design, the primary aims this study are to test the causal effect of inflammation and early onset (childhood) BMI on end stage OA (occurrence of total knee and/or total hip joint arthroplasty) in the UK biobank. Building on prior work, this project will also aim to test whether prior injury history modifies the association between inflammation and end stage OA.

Determinants of Nickel Sensitization in Joint Failure Patients

Shaodong Dai, PhD, Karen Pacheco, MD, MSPH and Craig Hogan, MD

The primary aims of this project will be to compare Ni2+ specific CD4+ T cell repertoires in synovial fluid compared to blood from implant failure patients and to determine DR53 or other HLA restriction of Ni2+specific APCs in joint tissue compared to blood.

Examining the role of inflammation and early synovial immune cell infiltration in the development of the OA of obesity

Lacey Favazzo, PhD, Michael Zuscik, PhD, Cheryl Ackert-Bicknell, PhD and Larry Moreland, MD

The primary aim of this project is to investigate whether pro-inflammatory dysregulation of the synovium takes place in obese human subjects prior to evidence of histological damage.

The Impact of Pulmonary Silica Exposure on the Initiation of Autoimmune Responses in the Lung in the Development of Autoimmune Arthritis

Amy McKee, PhD, Andrew Fontenot, MD and Kristi Kuhn, PhD

The primary aim of this project is to develop a pre-clinical animal model to explore the role of the lung and environmental exposures in the initiation of rheumatoid arthritis. We will determine if pulmonary exposures to silica particles precipitate or enhance the development of autoimmune arthritis in mice. This study will enhance our understanding of early mechanisms in disease pathogenesis and inform development of early interventional strategies for rheumatoid arthritis.


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