Rosen Center Pilot Grant Awards

Rosen Bioengineering Center Pilot Research Grants provide up to $80,000 to support collaborative early-stage projects that require sharing of ideas, people and resources between labs. The goal of the program is to help teams develop strong preliminary data that will enhance their competitiveness for large, collaborative awards from external agencies like NIH, NSF, DoD and others.

The teams involved in this program have generated published manuscripts (with others in prep or submitted), given numerous conference presentations, submitted multiple proposals for external funding, and received follow-on awards from Federal agencies.


    Title: Geometric design principles for mechanical structures to control bacteria distributions
    Awardees: Chiara Daraio and John Brady

    Title: Quantitative measurements toward engineering the microbiome for inducing regeneration
    Awardees: Lea Goentoro and Rustem Ismagilov

    Title: Programmable Actuation of 3D Micro-architected DNA Hydrogels
    Awardees: Lulu Qian and Julia Greer


    A genetically-encoded sensor to label interacting cells with fast temporal dynamics
    Awardees: Carlos Lois and Angelike Stathopoulos

    Harnessing microbial consortia from extreme environments by making them feel at home
    Awardees: Julia Kornfield and Katherine Faber & Victoria Orphan

    Wearable Sensor for Addictive Drug Monitoring
    Awardees: Wei Gao and Henry Lester

    Medical Polymers that Undergo Remotely Actuated Shape Change for Surgical Applications
    Awardees: Robert Grubbs, Mikhail Shapiro and Chiara Daraio


    Title: Wearable Patches for Wound and Inflammation Monitoring

    Awardees: Chiara Daraio and Wei Gao

    Title: Engineering Replication-, Growth-, and Division-deficient E. coli for Safe, Stable and Efficient Function

    Awardees: Richard Murray and Kaihang Wang

    Title: Engineering Species Interactions by Reprogramming Animal Glands

    Awardees: Joseph Parker and Matt Thomson

    Title: Artificial Nucleic Acid Condensates for the Rapid Concentration of Bacteria from Blood

    Awardees: Paul W.K. Rothemund and Rustem Ismagilov

    Title: Directed Evolution of Tailor-made Molecular Chaperones

    Awardees: Shu-ou Shan and Mikhail Shapiro

    Title: Optimize Photoswitches to Support Investigation of Transcription Factor Dynamics in Vivo

    Awardees: Angelike Stathopoulos and Lior Pachter

    Title: High-Resolution and Non-Perturbative Mapping for Single AAVs in Neurons and Brain Tissues by Stimulated Raman Scattering Imaging with A Minimum Deuterium Labeling Strategy

    Awardees: Lu Wei and Viviana Gradinaru

    Title: Investigation Into the Use of Deep Learning to Continuous Embryo Developmental Study

    Awardees: Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz and Changhuei Yang


    Title: Jellyfish as inspiration for a shapeshifting material

    Awardees: Rob Phillips and Lea Goentoro

    Title: Externally Triggered Polymer Microgel for Image-Guided Delivery of Biomolecules to the Intestine

    Awardees: Robert Grubbs and Mikhail Shapiro

    Title: Entangled Excitation of Photodynamic Therapy Drugs

    Awardees: Scott Cushing and Sarah Reisman

    Title: Spatiotemporal Control over Loss/Gain-of-Function in Developing Embryos using Conditional Guide RNAs and Viral Constructs

    Awardees: Niles Pierce and Marianne Bronner

    Title: A system for specific delivery and dosage-independent control of MeCP2 expression in Rett syndrome gene therapy

    Awardees: Viviana Gradinaru and Michael Elowitz

    Title: Computation microscopy correction of distortions in CLARITY bone sample fluorescence images

    Awardees: Changhuei Yang and Viviana Gradinaru

    Title: Kinetics and Steady States of the de Duve Number:  Intracellular Neural Drug Distribution via Multimodal Imaging of Fluorescent Biosensors and Stimulated Raman Scattering

    Awardees: Lu Wei and Henry Lester

    Title: A microrobotic system guided by photoacoustic computed tomography for targeted navigation and drug delivery in vivo

    Awardees: Lihong Wang and Wei Gao

    Title: Defining the design principles of cellular information demons

    Awardees: Matt Thomson and David Van Valen


    Title: A smart microcapsule for continuous gut metabolic monitoring

    Awardees: Wei Gao and Azita Emami

    Title: Acoustic metamaterials for non-invasive neural imaging

    Awardees: Chiara Daraio and Mikhail Shapiro

    Title: Advanced sample preparation for cryo-electron microscopy with single-molecule control

    Awardees: Rebecca Voorhees and Michael Roukes

    Title: Cell type specific in situ brain engineering by in vivo gene editing

    Awardees: Yuki Oka and Matt Thomson

    Title: Engineering population regulation of the gut microbiome to regulate inflammation in mouse models

    Awardees: Sarkis Mazmanian and Richard Murray

    Title: Bacterial argonaute proteins as novel tools for genome engineering

    Awardees: Alexei Aravin and Stephen Mayo


    Title: Proving the possibility of multiplexed single-cell RNA sequencing of bacteria

    Awardees: Rustem Ismagilov and Matt Thomson

    Title: Selective killing of latently-infected CD4+ T-cells by conditionally replicating viruses that detect HIV transcripts

    Awardees: Pamela Bjorkman and Niles Pierce

    Title: Genetically encoded magnetoreceptors for noninvasive control of cellular function

    Awardees: Mikhail Shapiro, Markus Meister and Carlos Lois


    Title: Engineered viruses for large-scale targeted genetic manipulation in mice

    Awardees: Carlos Lois and Viviana Gradinaru

    Title: Constraining the mechanisms of extracellular electron transfer (EET) in Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilms by studying the effects of eDNA-binding on phenazine reactivity

    Awardees: Dianne Newman and Jacqueline Barton

    Title: A Miniature, wireless and implantable intraocular pressure sensor

    Awardees: Yu-Chong Tai and Azita Emami

    Title: 3-Dimensional Nano-Architectures for In-Vivo Biomedical Measurements

    Awardees: Julia Greer and Joel Burdick

    Title: Visualizing nicotine entry into midbrain dopaminergic neurons

    Awardees: Henry Lester and Changhuei Yang


    Title: Dynamic single-cell imaging of long-range physical interactions among regulatory DNA elements and target genes

    Awardees: Ellen Rothenberg and Barbara Wold

Research Project Award Highlights

The Rosen Research Project Awards provide not only fantastic opportunities for collaboration between laboratories, they also provide young, upcoming researchers with leadership experience in managing a research project and mentoring undergraduate and graduate students. - Dr. Sarkis Mazmanian and Dr. Richard Murray

The work supported by the Rosen Center led to an award from the Moore Foundation to the Thomson Lab to characterize active matter systems composed of a range of different motor and filament proteins, and an award from the Rita Allen Foundation to the Van Valen Lab to study information transmission in cell signaling networks. The deep learning methods supported by the Rosen Center will be used to analyze data from both projects. – Dr. Matt Thomson and Dr. David Van Valen

This program greatly facilitated the collaboration between our labs, and together we developed successful data that led to a high-impact publication and external joint funding to continue support of our research project.  – Dr. Azita Emami and Dr. Wei Gao

Funded by the Rosen Center, our joint publication in Science Robotics was highlighted in Caltech News, Optics & Photonics News, New Scientist, the New York Post, and MSN. – Dr. Lihong Wang and
Dr. Wei Gao.

Past Rosen Research Project Awards

    Frances Arnold and Richard Murray “Systems Engineering of Microbial Stress Response”

    John O. Dabiri for graphic design services to develop visual elements for an advanced biomechanics textbook

    Chin Lin Guo “Engineering Self-assembled Tubular Systems”

    Richard Murray “Forced Response Analysis of Biomolecular Circuits”

    Richard Murray, iGEM Team funding to allow a group of Caltech undergraduate students to compete in the International Genetically Engineered Machine competition

    Rob Phiillips “Teaching at the Interface: A Vision for Quantitative Biology”

    Erik Winfree hosted the 17th International Conference on DNA Computing and Molecular Programming (DNA17) at Caltech