Newly Awarded 3i Seed Grant Projects Explore Immunities and Vaccines

The Immunology, Inflammation and Infectious Disease Initiative (3i) at the University of Utah Health has awarded seed grants to eight collaborative research projects. The funded projects will explore alternative treatments and diagnoses for many human disorders, including influenzas, cancers and infections. 

“A better understanding of our immune system is deepening our appreciation for its roles in many human diseases,” says Ryan O’Connell, Ph.D., director of the III Initiative and an associate professor in Pathology at U of U Health. “These seed grants explore novel aspects of immunity in key areas of research here at Utah, including colitis, Multiple Sclerosis, cancer and infectious diseases, through a collaborative, multi-disciplinary approach.”

These funded projects investigate an array of topics, from the result of malaria on blood platelets to the effect of osteoarthritis in breast cancer patients. Each grant was awarded up to $50,000 for one year. The 2018 awardees include:


Bacterial Infection and Drug Resistance

  • Virulence Determinants of Haemophilus influenzae Type A 
Anne Blaschke, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor in Pediatrics
Matthew Mulvey, Ph.D., professor in Pathology
Hillary Crandall, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor in Pediatrics
Mark Yandall, Ph.D., professor in Human Genetics


  • Identification of ExPEC-encoded sRNA Targets
Matthew Mulvey, Ph.D., professor in Pathology
Demián Cazalla, Ph.D., assistant professor in Biochemistry


Infectious Disease and Global Health

  • Novel Immune Activities of Platelets During Malaria
Matthew Rondina, M.D., associate professor in Internal Medicine
Tracey Lamb, Ph.D., associate professor in Pathology
Paul Sigala, Ph.D., associate professor in Biochemistry


Microbiota and Mucosal Immunity

  • The Effects of Dietary Iron Limitation on Gut Immunity and The Development of Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
Diane Ward, Ph.D., research associate professor in Pathology
June Round, Ph.D., associate professor in Pathology



  • Mathematical Modeling of T Cell Dynamics to Predict Autoimmunity
Brian Evavold, Ph.D., professor in Pathology
Fred Adler, Ph.D., professor in Mathematics


  • Molecular and Functional Role of Microglia in a Viral Model of Multiple Sclerosis
Tom Lane, Ph.D., professor in Pathology
Monica Vetter, Ph.D., professor in Neurobiology and Anatomy
Alejandra Bosco, D.Sc., research assistant professor in Neurobiology and Anatomy


T cells and Vaccines

  • T Cell-mediated Protection from Influenza Infection
Scott Hale, Ph.D., associate professor in Pathology
Matt Williams, Ph.D., associate professor in Pathology
Krow Ampofo, MBCHB, professor in Pediatrics
Michael Varner, M.D., professor in Obstetrics & Gynecology


Tumor Immunity

  • Effects of Osteoarthritis on Breast Cancer Metastasis to Bone
Alana Welm, Ph.D., associate professor in Oncological Sciences 
Michael Jurynec, Ph.D., research assistant professor in Orthopedics


The funded projects promote collaboration among at least two independent investigators or research groups at U of U Health. This initial support provides investigators the ability to obtain preliminary data that will support future multi-investigator funding opportunities through other outlets.  Projects were prioritized in the following categories: bacterial infection and drug resistance, infectious disease and global health, microbiota and mucosal immunity, neuroinflammation, T cells and vaccines and tumor immunity.

Built on the foundation of more than 100 faculty members who conduct research across the university, 3i was created to improve diagnoses and treatment of many diverse disorders related to human health. The initiative hopes to integrate basic, translational and clinical research in these areas by enriching the 3i community and supporting collaboration. 

About the Author:

Camille Aglaure