The Society for Developmental Biology Innovation Grant was established in 2016 to provide seed funds for those seeking to develop innovative tools and methods with the potential to have a broad impact on the developmental biology community. This work could include devices, software, novel methods, or new reagents, but was not intended to support training or the application of existing technologies. Projects that would not necessarily be supported through other means were given preference. Graduate student, postdoctoral fellow and full SDB members were all eligible.
As of October 2020, this grant program has been discontinued.
University of Pisa, Italy
|Transplantation of single cancer stem cells in brain organoids to identify clonal growth patterns||Glioblastoma is the most aggressive brain tumor in the adult and is characterized by very poor survival. This is mainly because glioblastoma growth is sustained by a subpopulation of stem cells that are difficult to eradicate with current therapies. In order to reduce their tumorigenic potential, we need to better understand how stem cells take fate decisions in this context. To this end, we aim to develop a 3D model of glioblastoma that could recapitulate the complexity of the in vivo tumor and that could sustain both the cancer stem cell compartment and its more differentiated progeny. We plan to grow single brain tumor stem cells in 3D, by transplanting them into human brain organoids and follow the size and composition of clones over time. This analysis will help understand the heterogeneity in brain tumor stem cell growth potential and will define how these cells take fate decisions, laying the foundations for the identification of novel selective vulnerabilities.
|Establishment of a Four-Dimensional Single-Cell-Resolution Developmental Atlas (4D-SCREDA) to Decode Embryonic Development and Vertebrate Evolution||Decoding the complete cellular trajectories of embryonic development is an ultimate goal in biology. Complete identification of cellular migration, interaction, and differentiation at the single-cell resolution can provide deeper understanding of organismal development, evolution, and etiology. However, despite the intense efforts to combine state-of-the-art techniques to analyze heterogeneity of organ precursors, a simultaneous recording of cellular migration, trajectories, and differentiation at the single-cell level in the native context of vertebrate development remains challenging. To tackle this challenge in embryology, we will build a four-dimensional single-cell-resolution developmental atlas (4D-SCREDA) of zebrafish to define developmental trajectories and specification mechanisms of individual cells during embryonic development with unprecedented resolution in a living vertebrate. As a proof-of-concept, we will apply 4D-SCREDA to early fin development, which is uniquely amenable to this strategy. The pectoral fin develops via dynamic cell migrations and differentiation. Its structure is remarkably simple, with only 500 cells, yet it consists of fundamental and conserved cell types, such as bones, blood vessels, muscles, neurons, and connective tissues. We will apply 4D-SCREDA to investigate the specification mechanisms of all cell types in appendage development and evolution that requires extensive transformation of cell fates.|