Dean’s Pilot Award

The Office of the Dean collaborates with KSOM departments and institutes to provide full-time KSOM faculty members with funding for initial exploration of new research areas through the Dean’s Pilot Award program. The target areas and level of funding may vary from year to year. 

Click here to view this year’s winners.

Please see below for a list of awardees by year.

FY PI Title
FY18 Jesse Berry Analysis of Chromosomal Changes and Driver Genes in the Aqueous Humor of Retinoblastoma Eyes: The Surrogate Tumor Biopsy
FY18 Hossein Ameri Evaluating the Efficacy of Lipofectamine-CRISPR-Cas9 in Silencing VEGF-A Gene In Vitro
FY18 Sanjay Arora Leveraging Social Media to Encourage Safe Opioid Use and Disposal among Adolescents in the ED
FY18 Vaia Leda Chatzi Developmental Origins of Child Liver Injury: The Effect of Early Life Environmental Exposures
FY18 Shohreh Farzan Disappearing Seas: The Consequences of Wind-Blown Dust on Children’s Health
FY18 Ray Goldsworthy Improving Sound Processing for Bilateral Cochlear Implants
FY18 Meng Law Ultrahigh Field 7T MRI of Brain Perivascular Spaces, CSF Dysregulation, Vascular Cognitive Impairment Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease
FY18 Brian Lee Identifying Neurophysiological Biomarkers of Voluntary Movement Planning, Initiation, and Inhibition in the Basal Ganglia of Patients with Parkinson’s Disease
FY18 Brian Luna Environmental Antibiotic-Resistance Transmission in Mice
FY18 Benjamin Xu Predictive Models for Angle Closure Disease Based on Anterior Segment Optical Coherence Tomography Measurements
FY19 Juliet Emamaullee Biomarkers of rejection in pediatric liver transplantation
FY19 Josh Neman-Ebrahim Metabolic contribution of GABA in Pediatric brain tumors
FY19 Bing Xia Molecular Basis of Gender Disparities in Lung Adenocarcinoma
FY19 Robert Chow Phthalates as a major environmental pathoetiological agent of Alzheimer’s Disease
FY19 Etan Orgel Genetic predictors of cisplatin-induced hearing loss
FY19 Francesca Mariani Peripheral nerve stimulation to modulate the biology of skeletal stem cells for musculoskeletal repair
FY19 Enrique Velazquez Villareal Multi-Genomic Single-Cell Characterization of Endometrial Cancer among Different Racial Groups
FY19 Jonathan Russin Biological mechanisms of botulinum neurotoxin A mediated cerebral revascularization graft vasospasm prevention
FY19 Lan Yue Towards an Understanding of Bioelectronic Color Perception
FY19 William Stohl Treatment of murine systemic lupus erythematosus with a novel synthetic lipoxin
FY20 Cynthia Gong Cost-Effectiveness of Early Whole Exome Sequencing to Improve Neonatal Health Outcomes
FY20 Alexander Weber Ability of Oral Steroid (Oxandrolone) to Improve Rotator Cuff Healing: A Double-Blind, Randomized Pilot Study
FY20 Radha Kalluri Sensory Neuron Diversity in the Vestibular Nerve
FY20 Thomas Lozito Creating “Lizard-Like” Neural Stem Cells for Mammalian Limb Regeneration
FY20 Darrin Lee Deep brain stimulation for cognition in schizophrenia and its effects on functional and structural connectivity
FY20 Kayla de la Haye Using Big Mobility Data to Map the Food Environments of Diverse Los Angeles Residents
FY20 Zhongwei Li Progenitor cell plasticity in the developing kidney
FY20 Amir Goldkorn Identification of cancer stem cell origins and differentiation routes by combining longitudinal in vivo imaging and single-cell transcriptome analyses
FY20 Gino In Short-term Fasting Prior to Standard Checkpoint Blockade Using PD-1/PD-L1 Inhibition: a Pilot Safety and Feasibility Study
FY20 Bino Varghese Reliability Assessment of CT-based Radiomics Metrics in Tissue Characterization
FY21 Britni Belcher Effects of a novel in-home virtually supervised exercise intervention on cardiometabolic and cognitive health outcomes in adolescents with overweight/obesity
FY21 Albert Almada Discovering Early Molecular Events in Stem Cell Activation Driving Skeletal Muscle Regeneration
FY21 Lee Ann Baxter-Lowe Developing Imaging Mass Cytometry to Quantify HLA Expression
FY21 Hyungjin Eoh Host Factors of Diabetes Patients associated with Worse Outcomes of Tuberculosis
FY21 Eve Kelland Improved disease outcome in demyelinating models of multiple sclerosis through modulation of gp130
FY21 Bradley Peterson The Effects of Very Brief Exposure on Post-traumatic Stress Disorder in U.S. Combat Veterans
FY21 Suhn Rhie Using Epigenetics to Understand Prostate Cancer Health Disparity
FY21 Luke Putnam A Randomized Pilot Trial of Platelet Rich Plasma Use in Hiatal Hernia Repair
FY21 Eugene Lin The Impact of Medicare Advantage on Patients with End-Stage Kidney Disease
FY21 Kathryn Smith Biobehavioral self-regulatory processes underlying binge eating in daily life


The Donald E. & Delia B. Baxter Foundation Baxter Scholar Program

The Foundation is interested in supporting innovative, cutting-edge research in any field conducted by Keck junior faculty who, in the future, will be successful in securing external funding. The purpose of the Donald E. & Delia Baxter Foundation Faculty Scholar Program is to provide seed funding to help prepare and support young investigators at the Assistant Professor level as they embark on their careers and start up their independent laboratories. This early stage career development is a critical period for a new researcher. During this time, the new scientist requires some form of monetary support to develop preliminary data and build his or her research program to effectively compete for federal funding.

A Request for Propoals (RFP) is generally released in January, with applications due in February. Each year the Keck School can put forward four candidates for consideration. Two Scholars are ultimately be selected by the trustees of the Foundation (funding amount to be determined in the New Year) for research projects beginning July 1st. Historically, individual research projects have been funded in the range of $50,000 to $100,000 each. Research projects are supported for a total of one year. For the most recent RFP, please contact Kavita Munjal.

The Foundation has supported many worthy research projects at the Keck School of Medicine of USC for over three decades. To see a list of previous winners, please click here (downloadable PDF).

The Robert E. and May R. Wright Foundation Research Awards

The Robert E. and May R. Wright Foundation supports Keck School of Medicine faculty basic research broadly related to arthritis, cancer, and heart disease. The Wright Foundation is governed by a Board of Trustees chaired by the Dean of the School of Medicine. The Dean has delegated to the Vice Dean for Research the responsibility of selecting a Scientific Review Committee (SRC) from members of the faculty to review Wright Foundation research proposals. The Trustees meet annually in May on behalf of the continuing activities of the Foundation. At the May meeting the recommendation of the SRC on new research proposals are received and awards made to the extent of available funds for the following fiscal year.

All full-time faculty of the medical school are eligible to apply for these awards. Faculty who have received a Wright Award within the past three years are not eligible for this award. Applications from prior Wright Award winners must show that they are embarking in a completely new research direction from their previous award. The Foundation strives to fund only the best applications. Priority will be given to projects that will either initiate a new research program or direction (e.g., junior faculty; senior faculty with clear change in research direction) and to innovative projects that are interdisciplinary or have translational potential.

A Request for Applications (RFA) is generally released in February, with a letter of Intent due in early March. Full applications are due in late March for projects beginning July 1st. Historically, approx 6-8 individual research projects have been funded in the range of $50,000 to $100,000. Research projects are supported for a total of one year. For the most recent RFP, please contact.

The Foundation has supported many worthy research projects at the Keck School of Medicine of USC over the last decade. To see a list of previous winners, please click here (downloadable PDF).

The James H. Zumberge Research and Innovation Fund Awards

Zumberge Fund Awards

The James H. Zumberge Research and Innovation Fund is USC’s university-wide faculty research grant support mechanism. It awards several hundred thousand dollars each year through its annual James H. Zumberge Awards competition. The Zumberge Fund promotes the initiation of research at USC through three types of awards: Individual Awards, Interdisciplinary Awards and Diversity & Inclusion Awards.

Interdisciplinary awards of up to $85,000 foster collaborative efforts among faculty from different schools and disciplines that lead to sustained interdisciplinary research programs and projects.

Recent recipients of Zumberge Interdisciplinary grants have gone on to receive:

  • $5 million per year in support from the National Science Foundation’s Science and Technology Center program, to establish the Center on Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations at USC.
  • More than $4 million per year from the National Institutes of Health to bring the Bioinformatics Research Network (BIRN) to USC.
  • Support from Lockheed Martin Corporation to establish the Center for Quantum Computing at USC, and to bring the D-Wave quantum computer to the university.

Interdisciplinary applicants aim to leverage their Zumberge awards for follow-on grants of this scale.

Guidelines: FY20 Zumberge Multi-School Interdisciplinary Research Award

Deadline: 5PM, Monday, February 11, 2019

Proposal Submission

Submit your proposal application utilizing the Office of Research Application Portal . You would need to create an account for yourself using your USC email address.

For questions regarding the proposal submission process, please contact the Office of Research at ( or 213-821-8163).

Southern California Clinical and Translational Science Institute Pilot Funding Program

The Southern California Clinical and Translational Science Institute Pilot Funding program awards over $1 million per year to USC and CHLA faculty through a range of funding opportunities that support all aspects of clinical and translational research, including career development and multidisciplinary team building. Individual awards between $5k and $50k are available during the Spring and Fall award cycles. Learn more and apply at Questions? Contact the SC CTSI Pilot Funding program.