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Dr. Michael M. Abecassis Transplant Innovation Endowment Grant

The Northwestern Medicine Transplant Advisory Council (NMTAC) is an inspired group of organ recipients, donors and their families that are united in a mission to support the future of organ transplantation at Northwestern Medicine while connecting and supporting the transplant community. In 2016, they joined the Comprehensive Transplant Center (CTC) on a journey to build a $10M endowment fund to support the center's ongoing research efforts. Currently the endowment principle is over $1.5M.

The endowment funds will be used to support ambitious, audacious and innovative research that is not typically funded by federal agencies and industry partners but will allow CTC scientists to explore the next generation of aspirational projects to ensure a sustainable legacy of the relentless pursuit of collaborative and innovative research that has become the hallmark of the CTC.

An advisory council reviews proposals using a five-point rating scale on scientific merit, innovation or risk, significance to transplant, likelihood of receiving future funding and the investigator.

Annual requests for proposals will be issued directly to our Stakeholders with applications due March 7 (an extension from the original Feb 28 deadline).  Award letters are sent on May 15 and project/funding start date is Sept. 1. For more information, please contact Elizabeth Asare

 FY 2023 Awardees

  • Evan Scott, PhD & Samuel Stupp, PhD: $65,094 for the project "Pre-Clinical, Scalable, and Targeted Immunotherapeutics for Ex VivoDelivery in Organ Transplantation"
  • Daniela Ladner, MD MPH:  $50,000 for the project "Markers of Decompensation and Dealth-Proteomics in Liver Cirrhosis"
  • Sarah Taylor, MD: $50,000for the project "Serum metabolites asnovel diagnostic biomarkers for rejection after liver transplantation"
  • James Mathew, PhD: $50,000for the project "Augmented Delivery of Regulatory T Cells for the Prevention of Transplant Rejection by Using Fucosylation"
  • Zach Dietch, MD: $50,000for the project "Patient-reported outcomes in liver transplantation; an opportunity to reduce morbidity, improve quality of life and reduce resource utilization"
  • Xiaoying Liu, PhD: $50,000for the project "The Unfolded Protein Response in Liver Transplant Recipients with Acute Rejection"
  • Luisa Iruela-Aripse, PhD: $50,000 for the project "A biomarker for endothelial health in transplantation"

 FY 2022 Awardees

  • Josh Levitsky, MD: $60,000 for his project “Erythropoietin Therapy to Induce Regulatory T cells in Liver Transplant Recipients”
  • Anat Tambur, PhD: $60,000 for her project "Understanding the immunogenicity of HLA-DQ antibodies in solid organ transplantation"
  • Zheng Jenny Zhang, MD: $58,606 for her project "Leveraging Nanocarrier Delivery Platforms for Tissue/Cell-Specific Targeting of Myd88 Pathways in Mitigating I/R Stress and MCMV Reactivation"
  • C. Shad Thaxton, MD, PhD: $54,479 for his project “Biomimetic HDL Nanoparticles as Therapy to Improve Regulatory T Cell Function in a Mouse Kidney Transplant Model”
  • Joseph Leventhal, MD, PhD: $53,0000 for his project “Development of nanoparticles for specific depletion of HLA antibody producing plasma cells: A potential solution to allo-sensitization in transplantation” 
  • Neil Kelleher, PhD & Eleonora Forte, MD: $47,158 for their project "Molecular Characterization of the Antibody Response to SARS-CoV-2 in COVID-19 Transplant Recipients Compared to Non-Transplant Individuals"

 FY 2021 Awardees

  • Anat Tambur, PhD: $25,000 for her project "CRISPR/Cas9 edited, singly expressed, HLA class II cells for the study of HLA-DQ immunogenicity"
  • Evan Scott, PhD & Xiaomin Zhang: $44,050 for their project “Validation of a Cell-selective Nanodrug for Induction of Islet Transplantation Tolerance in the Treatment of Type 1 Diabetes”
  • Neil Kelleher, PhD: $46,354 for his project "Profiling of SARS-CoV-2-Specific Antibodies to Phenotype IgG Response in Transplant Patients by Top-Down Proteomics"
  • Richard Green, MD: $32,078 for his project “Developing an iPSC Biobank to Determine the Genetics and Lipid Metabolism of NASH Patients Requiring Liver Transplantation”
  • Xingqiang Lai, MD, PhD: $38,700 for his project “Impact of Clinical Relevant Immunosuppression on Immune Response to COVID-19 in Transplant Recipients”
  • Yuvaraj Sambandam, PhD: $44,659 for his project "Establishment of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19)-Specific Cellular Immune Assays to Support Future NIH Grant Applications”

 FY 2020 Awardees

  • Daniel Borja-Cacho, MD: $50,000 for his project "Ex-vivo Normothermic Perfusion as a tool to improve the viability and function of marginal livers"
  • Dave Pinelli, MD: $15,000 for his project "Friend or Foe: In search of acceptable HLA mismatches in solid organ transplantation"
  • Jason Wertheim, MD: $28,500 for his project "Establishing an iPSC biobank from patients with liver disease"
  • Kyle Koss: $5,000 for his project "Promoting Nerve Repair in a Hind Limb Transplant Model using Glial-Seeded Self-Assembling Amphiphile Scaffolds"
  • Mary Hummel, MD: $21,500 for the project "Identification of receptors that mediate entry of human cytomegalovirus in hematopoietic progenitor cells"
  • Taylor Heald-Sargent: $12,000 for her project "Cellular site and burden of latent CMV in donor lungs"
  • Themistoklis Kourkoumpetis, MD: $8,000 for the project "The Association Between Liver and Mononuclear Cell Microbial Signatures and Acute Liver Transplant Rejection"

 FY 2019 Awardees

  • Andre Iovane, PhD: $8,225 for his project "Development of a new CRISPR-based ultra-sensitive method for CMV nucleic acids detection and quantitation"
  • Catherine Chapin, MD, MS: $10,000 for her project "Transcriptome analysis to identify key mediators of immune dysregulation in indeterminate pediatric acute liver failure"
  • Daniela Ladner, MD, MPH: $15,000 for her project "PIPELine (Personality Informed Prehabilitation in End-stage Liver disease)"
  • Robert Gerbasi, PhD: $17,000 for his project "A pilot study to delineate the proteoforms underpinning FSGS recurrence in patients after kidney allograft transplantation using next-generation precision proteomics"
  • Mahzad Akbarpour, DVM, PhD: $17,775 for the project "Inflammasome-dependent IL-1B production by donor NCM lead to the development of PGD following lung transplantation"
  • Michael Divito, PhD: $20,000 for his project "Optimization of Acellular Liver Scaffold System for iPSC Lipotoxicity Model"

 FY 2018 Awardees

  • Mary Rinella, MD: $10,000 for her project “Noninvasive Diagnosis of Disease Recurrence in Patients Transplanted for NASH Cirrhosis”
  • Katherine Hekman, MD, PhD : $9,950 for her project “Metabolic Reprogramming in Nephron Progenitor Cell Directed Differentiation”
  • Sarah Taylor, MD: $10,000 for her project “The Mechanistic Implications of a Limited Immunoglobulin Repertoire in Biliary Atresia”
  • Lisa Van Wagner, MD: $10,000 for her project “Change in Body Composition in Liver Transplant Recipients Over Time and Impact on Clinical Outcomes”

Pilot Fund

The CTC also funded pieces of the four proposals listed below. These projects began Dec. 1, 2016. The purpose in funding the pilot projects was threefold:

  1. to demonstrate to potential donors how the funds would be used and the process by which funds would be allocated;
  2. to demonstrate to faculty members that they could benefit from this process to encourage them to direct patients who are potential donors to the endowment campaign and
  3. to test the funding process

Those FY 2017 awardees were:

  • Javeed Ansari, MD: $10,000 for his project “Identification and Characterization of HLA-Specific B Cells in Transplant Recipients
  • Eleonora Forte, PhD: $4,000 for her project “Identification of host genes essential for Human Cytomegalovirus latency and reactivation by CRISPR-Cas9 Knockout Screening”
  • John Friedewald, MD: $1,000 for his project “Clinical and Genomic Predictors of Outcomes in Kidney Transplantation”
  • Silvia Minardi, PhD: $10,000 for her project “Synthosomes: Biomimetic Exosome-like Proteolipid Nanovesicles for Tolerance Delivery in an Islet Transplant Model”