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Pilot Grant Program

In order to enhance basic science, translational, and clinical studies on the CU Anschutz Campus, the RNA Bioscience Initiative (RBI) supports RNA biology research, particularly RNA-seq and other informatic intensive, cutting-edge technologies via its Pilot Grant Program. The RBI requests applications for various grant types twice each year- spring and fall. Applications are invited for investigator-initiated pilot projects that will generate preliminary data to test the feasibility of novel avenues of research and will support future extramural grant applications. Awards may be in-kind or monetary depending on the studies proposed and the specific program to which you have applied.


  • Principal Investigators (PIs) for all awards must have faculty appointments at the University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus and hold the rank of Assistant, Associate or Full Professor, Research Professor, or Instructor
  • Proposals must have an RNA-related research focus and may not describe the same specific research that is funded by other sources during the grant period

Application Requirements

  1. All applicants must submit a Letter of Intent to this form by the deadline posted in the relevant RFA.
  2. Full applications must be submitted by the deadline posted in the relevant RFA and include the following components:
    1. Brief Cover Letter stating the title of the proposal, describing the value of the project, and confirming that all collaborators listed on the application agree with the proposal
    2. Research Proposal consisting of no more than 1 page in standard NIH grant application format- specific aims, background and broader impact, and research plan.
    3. Current NIH biosketch for all named PIs
  3. All components of the final application should be submitted using the OpenWater Application & Review Platform. A link to the OpenWater Application will only be provided to those that submit a Letter of Intent.

Selection of Awardees

A peer review panel composed of faculty with a range of expertise will be responsible for award decisions, evaluating eligible applications competitively

The primary factors in award decisions will be the scientific merit of the proposed research, the likelihood to “seed” eventual R series-level or equivalent extramural funding, and the long-term promise of the proposed research

No critiques will be provided to applicants

Applicants will be informed with a review response of “Funded”, “Not funded” or “Not eligible”

Grant Recipient Requirements

RBI grant recipients are expected to become active members of the University of Colorado RNA research community. Both the PIs and those working on funded projects are required to:

  1. Acknowledge RBI support on publications that result from the award
  2. Self-identify in “Affiliations” as a member of the RBI on publications that result from the award
  3. For all bioinformatics support, include the RBI fellows as authors on publications that result from the award
  4. Use awarded funds solely to support the RNA research described in the proposal
  5. Provide a progress report to the RBI 30 days after the end of funding year
  6. Attend/Present at “Evenings with RNA” co-hosted by the RBI and the Colorado RNA Club, and at other RBI sponsored RNA events

RBI Pilot Grant Awardees

Adela Cota-GomezPulmonary Sciences and Critical Care RNA-seqNrf2 activator PB125 as a potential therapeutic agent against coronavirus (COVID related)
Kristin ArtingerCraniofacial BiologyRNA-seqUsing RNA-seq to identify molecular interactions among different cell populations during neural crest cell migration
Linda van DykBarbara Davis CenterRNA-seqIdentification of host and viral ncRNA interatcing with La and RIF-I during gammaherpesvirus infection
Natalia (Maria) VergaraOpthamologyRNA-seqUnraveling the molecular basis of retinal abnormalities in Down syndrome
Nidia Quillinan AnesthesiologyRNA-seqDistinct firing properties of thalamic neurons receiving cerebellar input
Olivia Rissland BMGRNA-seqCOVID genomic sequencing and tracking
Quentin VicensBMGRNA-seqUsing RNA-seq to determine the biological role of the Z-RNA binding domain of ADAR1 during the interferon response
Rebecca SchweppePathologyRNA-seqNuclear FAK alters the transcriptome to promote thyroid cancer growth and survival
Tom EvansCDBRNA-seqDiscovering direct RNA targets of novel ncRNAs
Wendy Macklin CDBRNA-seqDevelopmental RNAseq analysis of the translatome in axons with conditional neuronal Raptor deletion
David BeckhamInfectious DiseasescRNA-seqDefining innate immune responses to SARS-CoV2 with single cell resolution
James NicholsCraniofacial BiologyscRNA-seqClonal dominance in appendage development 
Liyen LohImmunology and MicrobiologyscRNA-seqDeciphering the development of innate T cells in the human thymus 
Mary Weiser-EvansRenal Diseases and HypertensionscRNA-seqSMC-derived AdvSca-SM cell contribution to cardiac fibrosis
Matthew SikoraPathologyscRNA-seqFunctional heterogeneity in estrogen receptor co-regulator activity
Melanie KoenigshoffPulmonary Sciences and Critical CarescRNA-seqUnraveling the molecular mechanisms of distal lung epithelial stem cell impairment in COPD? 
Rocky BakerImmunology and MicrobiologyscRNA-seqCombined TCR and gene expression profile of HIP-reactive T cells in islet grafts after induction of tolerance with 2.5HIP PLG-NPs
Timothy McKinseyCardiologyscRNA-seqExploring the therapeutic potential of HDAC inhibition in HFpEF
Christian MosimannPediatricsscTech DevelopmentCharting cardiovascular progenitor clonality and developmental trajectories in toto 
Elena HsiehPediatric Allergy and ImmunologyscTech DevelopmentUnderstanding IL-15/IL-2RB  interactions in a hypomorphic IL-2RB mouse model
Eric PietrasHematologyscTech DevelopmentClonal tracking and expression analysis in a mouse model of human clonal hematopoiesis of indeterminate potential (CHIP)
Eszter VladarPulmonary SciencesscTech DevelopmentWNT4 signaling specifies ciliated cell fate in the airway epithelium
Howard DavidsonBarbara Davis CenterscTech DevelopmentMonitoring alternative splicing in single human T cells by ScISOr-Seq plus
James DylewskiRenal Diseases and HypertensionscTech DevelopmentThe role of FcRn in antigen presentation by glomerular endothelial cells in immune mediated kidney disease
Katja Kiseljak-VassiliadesEndocrinology, Metabolism, and DiabetesscTech DevelopmentIn situ reconstruction of distinct cell populations within the human adrenal gland
Kirk HansenBMGscTech DevelopmentDevelopment of an ECM atlas to guide regenerative medicine therapies using MULTI-seq
Peter DempseyGastroenterology, Hepatology, and NutritionscTech DevelopmentPopulation-based analysis of intestinal organoid heterogeneity using CellTagging and scRNAseq
Rachel FriedmanBarbara Davis CenterscTech DevelopmentMyeloid cells in the islets
Stephen SantoroPeds-Developmental BiologyscTech DevelopmentLineage tracing the odorant receptor fates of olfactory sensory neurons
Tuoqi WuImmunology and MicrobiologyscTech DevelopmentIdentify the transcriptional and protein expression signatures of CAR T cells with long-term antitumor immunity using endogenous TCR sequences as molecular barcodes
Howard DavidsonBarbara Davis CenterBioinformatics SupportUsing CITE-seq to define immune biomarkers of the honeymoon period in type 1 diabetes
Matthew Taylor & Sharon GrawCardiology & PathologyBioinformatics SupportTranscriptome analysis of 1078 adult and pediatric heart samples
Douglas Shepherd & Diego RestrepoPharmacologyRNA BiologyHigh-throughput spatial quantification of RNA expression in mouse olfaction after exposure to viral agents
Jianbin WangBMGRNA BiologyTranscription and transcription-replication collision and R-loop formationduring programmed DNA elimination
Joshua BlackPharmacologyRNA BiologyEnrichment detection and discovery of repeat element-gene mRNA fusion transcripts
Tania ReisEndocrinology, Metabolism, and DiabetesRNA BiologyMechanisms of control of Drosophila fat storage by conserved RNA-binding protein Nito
Tom EvansCell and Developmental BiologyRNA BiologyControl of RNP co-assembly dynamics in early development
Chad PearsonCDBRNA-seqIdentifying centriolar RNAs in Tetrahymena thermophila
Diana CittellyPathologyRNA-seqTranscriptional profile of reactive astrocytes at early and late stages of brain metastatic progression
Eszter VladarPulmonary SciencesRNA-seqMolecular, physiological and health outcome impacts of triple combination therapy in cystic fibrosis airway disease
Jeffrey KieftBMGRNA-seqIdentification of cellular exoribonuclease-resistant RNAs by xrRNA-seq
Katherine FantauzzoCraniofacial BiologyRNA-seqSrsf3-mediated alternative RNA splicing downstream of PDGFRalpha signaling in the palatal mesenchyme
Michael McMurrayCDBRNA-seqDefining the maternal contribution of RNAs in yeast gametes
Rytis PrekerisCDBRNA-seqIdentification of midbody-associated RNA
Traci LyonsOncologyRNA-seqInvestigating SEMA7A-regulated mechanisms of endocrine resistance in ER+ breast cancer
Trevor WilliamsCraniofacial BiologyRNA-seqFunctional analysis of differential splicing by Rbm10 – the gene mutated in human TARP Syndrome
Daniel SherbenouHematologyscRNA-seqTracking resistant multiple myeloma cells in residual disease by single-cell RNA-seq
Dany GaillardCDBscRNA-seqSingle cell RNA-seq of irradiated mouse CVP
Eric ClambeyAnesthesiologyscRNA-seqCD4 T cell lineage tracing by scRNA-seq
Holger RussBarbara Davis CenterscRNA-seqElucidating AIRE dependent expression of tissue-restricted antigens in stem cell derived organotypic thymus cultures from healthy and autoimmune patients
Joseph BrzezinskiOpthamologyscRNA-seqRegulation of human cone photoreceptor development
Karen MoultonCardiologyscRNA-seqTranslating vascular cell phenotypes of human coronary artery disease
Nicholas ForemanPediatricsscRNA-seqTo investigate the feasibility of single-nuclei RNAseq analysis of pediatric brain tumors
Rocky BakerImmunology and MicrobiologyscRNA-seqMonitor phenotype and TCR of HIP-reactive T cells over time in a subject at risk for T1D
Ross KedlImmunology and MicrobiologyscRNA-seqIn search of Tvacs: single cell RNAseq comparison between vaccine-elicited and infection elicited CD8+ T cell responses
T. Rajendra KumarOB/GYNscRNA-seqSingle cell RNA-seq analysis of pituitary gonadotropes
Tamara TerzianOncologyscRNA-seqMolecular determinants of lymphangiogenesis
Wendy MacklinCDBscRNA-seqscRNAseq of oligodendrocytes during development with conditional rictor deletion in neurons
Lori SusselBarbara Davis CenterBioinformatics SupportIdentification of IncRNAs associated with obesity-induced diabetes
Kristin Artinger & David BentleyCraniofacial Biology & BMGRNA-seqDevelopmental control of co-transcriptional splicing in zebrafish
Lori SusselBarbara Davis CenterRNA-seqDetermine the effect of zinc deficiency on the islet transcriptome
Suchitra RaoInfectious DiseasesRNA-seqMeasures of immune responses to influenza infection in children
Sue KinnamonOtolaryngologyRNA-seqTranscriptome analysis of GAD65-expressing taste receptor cells
Beth TamburiniImmunologyscRNA-seqTranscriptional profiling of lymphatic endothelial cells and dedritic cells during antigen archiving exchange
David ClouthierCraniofacial BiologyscRNA-seqA transcriptional code coordinates jaw development
Hong Li and Eriv Van OtterlooCraniofacial BiologyscRNA-seqRedefining the ameloblast lineage
Howard DavidsonBarbara Davis CenterscRNA-seqProfiling T cell responses to low affinity polyclonal stimuli
Ivana YangPulmonary and Critical CarescRNA-seqCharacterization of bronchoalveolar lavage cell populations from patients with sarcoidosis
Joanna Poczobutt & Oliver EickelbergPulmonary and Critical CarescRNA-seqThe role of MZB1-positive plasma B cells in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis
Jonathan Kurche & David SchwartzPulmonary and Critical CarescRNA-seqSingle nuclei RNA sequencing in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF)
Martin McCarterSurgical OncologyscRNA-seqAnalysis of tumor infiltrating MDSCs in human melanoma
Matthew BurchillGastroenterology and HepatologyscRNA-seqDissection of the Y lymphocyte activation landscape in NASH
Yael AschnerPulmonary Sciences and Critical Care MedicinescRNA-seqAnalysis of ARDS BAL
Bernice GitomerRenal MedicineBioinformatics SupportIdentification of the etiology of the bone defect in patients with autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD)
Craig JordanHematologyBioinformatics SupportIdentification and characterization of drug-resistant subpopulations in AML
David BentleyBMGBioinformatics SupportThe development of a bioinformatics pipeline to characterize nascent RNA structure
Elizabeth WellbergPathologyBioinformatics SupportUsing gene expression profiles to predict obesity-associated breast cancer progression
Eva GrayckCardiovascular and Pulmonary Bioinformatics SupportBioinformatic analysis of RNA sequencing data to interrogate the redox regulation of alveolar macrophage populations in acute lung injury
Nicholas ForemanHematologyBioinformatics SupportSingle-cell mRNA seq analysis of pedatric brain tumors
Steve AndersonPathologyBioinformatics SupportAnalysis of the role of glucose metabolism upon tumor-initiating cells
Bruce AppelPediatrics, Stem Cell BiologyscRNA-seqSingle cell RNA-seq investigation of glial cell heterogeneity
Dick DavisBMGscRNA-seqSingle cell RNA-seq analysis of ascarsis development
Holger RussBarbara Davis CenterscRNA-seqElucidating human beta cell subtype regulation and interconversion in health and disease
Howard DavidsonBarbara Davis CenterscRNA-seqSingle cell profiling in type 1 diabetes
James NicholsCraniofacial BiologyscRNA-seqUnderstanding jaw evolution by comparing craniofacial progenitor cells in lamprey and zebrafish
Joan HooperCDBscRNA-seqAnalysis of craniofacial development
Kristin ArtingerCraniofacial BiologyscRNA-seqSingle cell profiling of neural crest derived cancers
Linda BarlowCDBscRNA-seqSingle cell RNA-seq of Sox2-GFP lingual epithelial cells
Lori SusselBarbara Davis CenterscRNA-seqAnalysis of pancreatic progenitors
Patricia ErnstPharmacologyscRNA-seqEnhancing hematopoietic stem cell emergence from pluripotent embryonic stem cells using MLL1 induction
Peter DempseyGastroenterology, Hepatology, and NutritionscRNA-seqReversion of Defa4Cre-expressing Paneth cells to a stem cell state in response to intestinal injury
Robert DoebeleOncologyscRNA-seqSingle cell analysis of oncogene-driven lung adenocarcinoma to determine mechanisms of residual disease following oncogene-targeted therapy
Recipient Department Award Project
Erin Baschal Orthopedics Clinical Comparison of facet joint cartilage RNA from adolescent idiopathic scoliosis patients and control individuals
James Costello Pharmacology Clinical RNA sequencing analysis of bladder cancer cell lines that localize to the lung and liver
Kathleen Connell Urogynecology and Reconstructive Surgery Clinical Epigenetic and RNA expression profiles in women with pelvic organ prolapse
Aaron Johnson BMG Seed Grant m6A RNA modification in long noncoding RNA matchmaking and heterochromatin formation
Bernice Gitomer Renal Diseases and Hypertension Seed Grant Prediction of the rate of autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease progression based on circulating miRNA levels
Carol Sartorius & Peter Kabos Pathology & Oncology Seed Grant Single cell analysis of organ specific metastasizing cells in estrogen receptor positive breast cancer
Eric Pietras Hematology Seed Grant Role of RNA splicing factor U2AF1 mutations in regulating hematopoietic stem cell inflammation response and myelodysplastic syndrome
Jennifer Richer Pathology Seed Grant Targeting the long non-coding RNA MALAT1 in ovarian cancer
Lee Niswander Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology Seed Grant An alternative splicing mechanism in the lincRNA-1354 locus commits embryonic stem cells to neural differentiation
Lori Sussel Barbara Davis Center Seed Grant lncRNA discovery in motor neurons
Mario Santiago Infectious Diseases Seed Grant Noncoding RNAs in mucosal HIV-1 persistence and pathogenesis
Sandy Martin CDB Seed Grant Investigating RNA editing in the brain of mammalian hibernator and Investigating transcript isoform dynamics in a hibernator
Tom Evans CDB Seed Grant Identification of novel RNA targets of sm-rings
Trevor Williams Craniofacial Biology Seed Grant Probing the consequences of the disruption of epigenetic bookmarking in human Branchio-oculo-facial Syndrome using single-cell sequencing