Intra-Center Pilot Projects

The SASCO Center offers Intra-Center Pilot Projects with cost-matched support from the UVA Comprehensive Cancer Center and UVA Office of the Vice-President for Research. Details on the Intra-Center Pilot Projects are released as an annual Request For Applications.


     The Systems Analysis of Stress-Adapted Cancer Organelles (SASCO) Center is an NCI-funded U54 Cancer Systems Biology Consortium research center at UVA. SASCO investigators are dedicated to the study of cancer cell biology using integrated experimental and computational methods, especially where computational inferences inform experimental hypotheses. In such projects, a “measure-model-test” cycle is typical. Read more about specific SASCO research themes on oncogenic stress on organelles in three cancer settings, the collaborative research core, and the investigator team at the SASCO website.
     In its second year (beginning September 1), the Center will support $100,000 of pilot funding to UVA principal investigators. The broad goal of pilot funding is to introduce investigators to cancer systems biology research questions and approaches. While alignment with the theme of oncogenic stress on organelles is preferred, it is not a required component of a successful pilot project application. Pilot funding applicants can propose projects that integrate with existing SASCO themes, or they can propose new cancer systems biology projects. To aid applicants in designing their approach, the overall aims of the SASCO proposal are available upon request. Prospective applicants are encouraged to contact U54 Center MPI Matthew Lazzara with questions and to discuss project alignment.
  • RFA will post on InfoReady.
  • Applications are not yet being accepted for Year 3 awards.

Year 2 Pilot Projects

Shayn Pierce-Cottler PhD, UVa Department of Biomedical Engineering

  • Endothelial cell-derived extracellular vesicles (EVs) as regulators of pancreatic cell EMT

Lakeshia Taite PhD, UVa Department of Chemical Engineering

  • A Tunable Hydrogel Tumor Microenvironment to Refine Computational Modeling of EMT-associated YAP/TAZ Mechanotransduction

Year 1 Pilot Projects

Stephanie Redemann PhD, UVa Department of Molecular Physiology and Biological Physics, Cell Biology

  • Regulation of the Chromosomal Passenger Complex (CPC) amount on the level of individual chromosomes during mitosis

Ahmad Jomaa PhD, UVa Department of Physiology and Biological Physics

  • Mechanism of Tom34-mediated mitochondrial adaptation in colorectal cancer


Resource Management Team

The Resource Management Teamacts as the interface between the MC2 Center Research Coordinating Hub and the specific resource-development activities of the SASCO Center. The group i) ensures standards and platforms put forth by the Resource and Data Sharing Working Group are transmitted to the Center, ii) communicates Center-specific challenges with resource sharing to the MC2 Center, and iii) facilitates the timely sharing of data and resources originating from the High-Content Imaging & Analysis Core and the Research Projects.  Andrea Denton presented an update of the SASCO Data Management effort in November.  The presentation can be viewed HERE.

Cross-Consortium Projects

Sepideh Dolatshahi PhD, UVa Department of Biomedical Engineering in collaboration with Kathryn Miller-Jensen PhD, Yale Department of Biomedical Engineering.

  • Golgi stress and aberrant glycosylation in hypoxic conditions: regulation and immune interactions

Year 2 Supplements:

Kevin Janes PhD, UVa Department of Biomedical Engineering in collaboration with John Lowengrub, UC Irvine Department of Mathematics.  National Cancer Institute (#3-U54-CA274499-02S1; PI: Janes -UVA) 9/1/2023 – 8/31/2024)

  • Open phase-separation models for cancer systems biology

Matthew Lazzara PhD, UVa Department of Chemical Engineering in collaboration with Justin Pritchard, Penn State Department of Biomedical Engineering. National Cancer Institute award 9/1/2023-8/31/2024.

  • A synthetic systems biology approach to predict context-specific mechanisms for SHP2 functional activity and resistance to SHP2 inhibition

Leadership Team

The Leadership Team is the organizing body for Center-level planning and decision-making. The group i) monitors progress toward milestones in the Plan to Enhance Diverse Perspectives, ii) reviews intracenter pilot projects, iii) plans annual site visits with NCI staff and the External Advisory Board, and iv) discusses candidate cross-consortium projects in consultation with the NCI.


Inclusion of Diverse Perspectives

The SASCO Center is committed to increasing inclusion of scientists from historically marginalized backgrounds and introducing antiracist research practices within its research activities. We will take proactive steps to recognize and lower the systematic barriers that have led to marginalization of certain groups in cancer research. We utilize the pilot funding mechanism, coupled with proactive outreach and mentorship to increase representation and support career success of women and members of historically marginalized backgrounds. Additionally, we seek to improve research awareness within the Center about how institutionalized racism has resulted in white-centered experimental systems and bias in conventional citation practices. The Administrative Core supports an annual event that includes community members and couples with summer activities of the Outreach Core as part of its Plan to Enhance Diverse Perspectives.  Kristen Naegle presented at our September meeting, Enhancing Diverse Perspectives: Striving to break out of the default -becoming more antiracist, the slides are available HERE.  Kevin Janes introduced the NCI sponsored Continuing Umbrella of Research Experiences (CURE) program in September.   Andrea Denton presented at our November meeting, Citation Diversity, the slides are available HERE.