Awarded Grants 2014

Press contact:
Tory Minus AIM President

Alabama Institute of Medicine (AIM) Approves Immediate

Funding for Multiple Stem Cell Studies

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Birmingham, Alabama – June 18, 2014 – Yesterday the Board of Directors of the Alabama Institute of Medicine (AIM) voted to approve three new grants for research studies, totaling near $1 Million. Funding has been made available as a result of an anonymous donation made to AIM in March, and through strong fundraising efforts this year.

A new project grant has been approved for Thomas Ryan Ph.D. and his team at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) to extend the preclinical studies of gene editing as a treatment for Sickle Cell Anemia and Cooley’s Anemia by four years, and upon successful completion, this study will demonstrate safe and effective treatments of many more hematopoietic disorders. This grant will fund $750,000 distributed over four years, contingent on the study team meeting research milestones during the first two years of the project.

The second grant is for Palaniappan Sethu Ph.D. and his lab at UAB to further his work in using a cardiac cell culture model to provide appropriate mechanical stresses on cultured cardiomyocytes to facilitate and accelerate their maturation. They propose such a system could be used to “precondition” pluripotent stem cell derived cardiomyocytes prior to their transplantation into the heart to facilitate their survival and integration into the diseased heart. This grant will fund $100,000 for year one, with AIM’s Board of Directors revisiting the proposal in year two to determine if research milestones have been achieved. If so, AIM’s Board of Directors will vote to fund the second year at another$100,000.

The third grant has been awarded to Kejin Hu Ph.D and his team at UAB to study the roles of the human PODXL gene in human embryonic stem cells (hESC) and induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells. The proposed work is focused on preliminary characterization of the function of the PODXL gene especially as it relates to creation and maintenance of the pluripotent state in pluripotent stem cells. This grant will fund $100,000 for year one, with AIM’s Board of Directors revisiting the proposal in year two to determine if research milestones have been achieved. If so, AIM’s Board of Directors will vote to fund the second year at another $100,000.

Jason Cosgrove, Member of AIM’s Board of Directors said “We are delighted to fund three very high quality projects. These scientists have produced excellent proposals and we are honored to partner with them and UAB in our first round of research grant funding.”

Next Round of Grant Funding

AIM will solicit applications for awards again in Spring 2015 to be used for advancing the basic biology and translational potential of stem cell research in Alabama. The goal of AIM grants is to foster bold and innovative science with the potential to transform the field of stem cell research, and advance the understanding and use of stem cells in the development of treatments for human disease and injury. AIM funding is open to researchers based at accredited academic institutions and scientific based research facilities from across the state. Alabama researchers may CO-PI with other researchers from across the U.S.

Through the research grants it funds, AIM will drive the acceleration of discovery and development of lifesaving treatments and cures, bringing researchers from Alabama and across the world together to work toward treating global diseases and injuries. The Institute’s priorities include significant investments in research and technology development, as well as construction of a research plaza in Jefferson County.

Granting Process
All donations are placed in AIM
s scientific trust fund and are recognized as tax- deductible donations. The granting process begins with a Request For Application (RFA) to all Alabama scientists interested in conducting pioneering, and ethical stem cell research. Interested scientists will submit their applications for funding. Each application will be reviewed on a double-blind basis, with the grantee not knowing the reviewer, and the reviewer not knowing the grantee. AIM will only fund the top scoring experiments, funding the best stem cell science in search of answers to questions that can lead to greatly needed treatments and cures. In the words of Dr. Hans Keirstead, AIM Chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee, “Let the Science Lead!”

For additional information about AIM’s RFA process, including information regarding most frequently asked questions, please visit:

About AIM
Established in April 2013,
the Alabama Institute of Medicine (AIM) is a non-profit organization (501c3) committed to funding research that will lead us further down the path toward treatments and cures for chronic disease and injury. AIM’s mission is simple: to undertake and support initiatives at research institutions that focus on developing new therapeutic methodologies for the treatment of all disease and injury.

Alabama Institute of Medicine Will:

  • Support regenerative medicine initiatives and regenerative medicine programs in Alabama.
  • Support the Alabama health care system with the goal of reducing long term health care cost burden on Alabama through the development of therapies that ease suffering and save lives.
  • Provide a great way for Alabama constituents to honor or memorialize a loved one affected by disease or injury by making a tax-deductible contribution to the fund with the proceeds being used to benefit research for the young and elderly of our state.For more information, please visit and share your comments with us at or