A garden of innovation: Mayo Clinic, ASU seed grant to fund medical discoveries

A man and a woman work in a medical research lab

Sixteen pilot studies will be explored through the Mayo Clinic and Arizona State University Alliance for Health Care Seed Grant Program — the largest amount since the program’s inception in 2016. Image courtesy Shutterstock

Endometriosis diagnostics. Tumor detection. Blood-based biomarkers. Bone repair. 

These are just a handful of the medical solutions Arizona State University researchers and Mayo Clinic doctors aim to explore through an innovative funding opportunity concentrated on collaboration between physicians and academics.

The Mayo Clinic and ASU Alliance for Health Care Seed Grant Program empowers investigators from both institutions to kickstart joint research projects and build a foundation to attract additional funding. The program also provides researchers with the unique advantage of finding solutions for complex biomedical problems that might not have been solved otherwise.

“When you try to take the most complex problem and solve it, at the same time you end up solving a lot of simpler problems more effectively,” says Neal Woodbury, chief science and technology officer at ASU Knowledge Enterprise.

When awarding grants, the program considers projects that encompass the following factors: transforming the health care workforce, optimizing health and the human body, and establishing connected health care delivery and biomedical innovation. Among these key elements, the project should demonstrate meaningful collaboration between investigators at ASU and Mayo Clinic.

“We want this to be, more than anything, a catalyst — a spark that continues to foster our collaborative efforts,” says Rafael Fonseca, chief innovation officer at Mayo Clinic. 

The 2023 seed grant projects and its lead investigators are:

Automating data extraction from electronic health records and reasoning to assist treatment decision-making for prostate cancer

Chitta Baral, professor, ASU School of Computing and Augmented Intelligence
Dr. Irbaz Bin Riaz, oncologist, Mayo Clinic

Machine Learning Design to Predict and Manage Postprandial Hyperglycemia in Patients with Type 1 Diabetes

Hassan Ghasemzadeh, associate professor, ASU College of Health Solutions
Dr. Bithika Thompson, endocrinologist, Mayo Clinic

Characterizing health care provider and patient experiences with implementing genomic medicine in a federally qualified health center

Rachel Gur-Arie, assistant professor, ASU Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation
Richard Sharp, biomedical ethics, Mayo Clinic

The use of itaconate as an immunometabolite for improved bone repair 

Julianne Holloway, assistant professor, ASU School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy; associate faculty, Biodesign Center for Molecular Design and Biomimetics
Jennifer Westendorf, orthopedic surgery consultant, Mayo Clinic

A Holistic Approach for Improved Diagnosis and Management of BRCA Mutations in Breast Cancer Using Advanced -omics and Imaging Technologies

Ashif Iquebal, assistant professor, ASU School of Computing and Augmented Intelligence
Dr. Bhavika Patel, breast imaging radiologist, Mayo Clinic

Evolutionary Therapy to Enhance Management of Gastrointestinal Malignancies

Carlo Maley, professor, ASU School of Life Sciences; associate professor, Biodesign Center for Biocomputing, Security and Society
Dr. Ryan Carr, oncologist, Mayo Clinic

Extracorporeal Robotic Tissue Retraction with Endoscopic Resection of Complex Gastrointestinal Neoplasms

Hamidreza Marvi, associate professor, ASU School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy
Dr. Terry Jue, gastroenterologist, Mayo Clinic

A Biomimetic and Organotypic Model of Brain Tumor-CAR-T Cell Interactions

Mehdi Nikkhah, associate professor, ASU School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering; assistant professor, Biodesign Virginia G. Piper Center for Personalized Diagnostics
Gloria Kim, immunologist, Mayo Clinic

Quantitative Gait Analysis as a novel diagnostic tool and clinical biomarker for Atypical Parkinsonian Syndromes

Daniel Peterson, associate professor, ASU College of Health Solutions
Dr. Shyamal Mehta, neurologist, Mayo Clinic

Detection and quantification of key biomarkers in CAR T-cell therapy with Quantum-NanoElectroPore (Q-NEP)

Quan Qing, associate professor, ASU Department of Physics; faculty member, Biodesign Center for Bioelectronics and Biosensors
Dr. Januario Castro, oncologist, Mayo Clinic

Conductivity Tensor Imaging to characterize the neuronal mechanisms of brain invasion in High-Grade Glioma (HGG)

Rosalind Sadleir, associate professor, ASU School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering
Dr. Leland Hu, neuroradiologist, Mayo Clinic

3D Printing-enabled Regenerative Medicine for Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP) Treatment

Xiangfan Chen, assistant professor, ASU School of Manufacturing Systems and Networks
Jessica Lancaster, immunology consultant, Mayo Clinic

Engineering targeted strategies to diagnose and treat endometriosis

Jessica Weaver, assistant professor, ASU School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering
Dr. Megan N. Wasson, gynecologic surgeon, Mayo Clinic

Investigation of mechanisms of muscle atrophy and weakness post-ACL injury and reconstruction

Jeanne Wilson-Rawls, associate professor, ASU School of Life Sciences
Dr. Kostas Econompoulos, orthopedic surgeon, Mayo Clinic

Cardiac Amyloidosis, The Crucial Need for Blood-based Biomarkers for Early Disease Detection

Craig Woods, director of research projects, Infectious Disease, Institute for Future Health
Dr. Julie Rosenthal, cardiologist, Mayo Clinic

Adaptive Self-Supervised Contrastive Learning for Tumor Detection and Treatment Evaluation

Yingzhen Yang, assistant professor, ASU School of Computing and Augmented Intelligence
Dr. Alvin C. Silva, radiologist, Mayo Clinic

Written by Sophia Balasubramanian

More Science and technology


Man smiling and holding a model of the moon.

55 years of lunar exploration continued by SESE professor

On July 21, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin famously took “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” when they…

Older person seen from behind, seated in a wheelchair in a bedroom, looking out a window.

When skeletons hold secrets: ASU project helps identify hidden elder abuse

When the death of an older adult is considered suspicious, their body is sent to the Maricopa County Office of the Medical…

A sunset image showing a comet crossing the far sky

9 months into a 6-year journey to a far-flung asteroid, NASA's Psyche mission cruising along

These days, Lindy Elkins-Tanton is living out a Talking Heads song lyric: She’s keeping her feet on the ground and her head in…