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9 projects with Beckman researchers receive funding from the Cancer Center

Nine projects that include Beckman researchers as principle investigators or co-investigators will receive funding through the Cancer Center at Illinois' Seed Grant Program.

Published on April 25, 2019

The Cancer Center at Illinois recently announced recipients of funding through the center’s Seed Grant Program. Nine projects include Beckman researchers as principle investigators (PIs) or co-investigators.

The program is designed to foster additional collaborations that reach across the engineering and biology continuum and leverage research team results for submitting external multi-PI grants in the cancer area.

Awards were given for both seed grants and planning grants. A faculty member may only serve as PI on one submitted project, but there is no limit to being a co-investigator on other projects.

Seed Grant Awards

Wawzyniec Dobrucki, the head of Beckman’s Experimental Molecular Imaging Laboratory and assistant professor of bioengineering, is a co-investigator on two different projects receiving Seed Grant Awards, as well as being a PI on a project receiving a Planning Grant Award (see below). He will be a co-investigator on “Cancer Immunotherapies for Precision Medicine in the State of Obesity,” as well as “Characterization of Oncogenic Noncoding RNAS in Breast Cancer Progression and metastasis,” which will be led by Cell and Developmental Biology Professor Prasanth K. Kannanganattu, a Beckman affiliate faculty member.

A Seed Grant Award also will fund “Deep Mutational Scanning of Receptor Tyrosine Kinases Involved in Cancer Using Transfer Learning Approaches,” led by Diwakar Shukla, a Beckman affiliate faculty member and assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering.

Pengfei Song, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering and a full-time Beckman faculty member, is the PI on “Next Generation Cancer Imaging Using Super-Resolution Ultrasound Microscopy Combined with Photoacoustic Tomography.” Other Beckman researchers who are co-investigators on the project include Yi Lu, a professor of chemistry and Beckman part-time faculty member; and Liang Gao, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering and Beckman full-time faculty member.

Planning Grant Awards

Jianjun Cheng, a professor of materials science and engineering and a Beckman part-time faculty member, will lead “Eradication of H. pylori with pH-sensitive Antimicrobial Polypeptides to Reduce Gastric Cancer.”

Dobrucki will lead “Diet-modified Efficacy of RAGE-targeted Prostate Cancer Treatments.” John Erdman, a professor emeritus of food science and human nutrition and Beckman faculty affiliate, is a co-investigator.  

Jodi Flaws, a professor of comparative biosciences and a part-time Beckman faculty member, is a co-investigator for “Elucidating Mechanisms by Which Environmental Toxicants Induce Liver Cancer.”

Zeynep Madak-Erdogan, an assistant professor of food science and human nutrition and a Beckman affiliate faculty member, is the PI on “Elucidating Premetastatic Niche-Induced Therapy Resistance Mechanisms in ER(+) Metastatic Breast Cancers.”

Taher Saif, a professor of mechanical science and engineering and a Beckman affiliate faculty member, will lead the team investigating “A 3D In vitro Biomimetic Tumor Microenvironment Integrated with a Micro Sensor Platform.”

The Seed Grant Program will run annually. The next request for proposals will be this fall. More information about this program and other funding opportunities with the Cancer Center is online at

In this article

  • Diwakar Shukla
    Diwakar Shukla's directory photo.
  • Wawrzyniec Dobrucki
    Wawrzyniec Dobrucki's directory photo.
  • Jodi Flaws
    Jodi Flaws's directory photo.
  • John Erdman
    John Erdman's directory photo.
  • Taher Saif
    Taher Saif's directory photo.
  • Pengfei Song
    Pengfei Song's directory photo.

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