Tim Miles and Viviana Gradinaru were awarded an NIH BRAIN Initiative grant partnering Caltech with Cal Poly Pomona titled "Broadening access with an Armamentarium Vector Core powered by inclusive research experiences".
The grant builds on Gradinaru and Miles' on-going efforts with the NIH BRAIN Initiative Armamentarium Project to assemble a toolkit of engineered adeno-associated viruses (AAVs) for safe and effective neuromodulator and sensor utilization across species (SENSUS). In this new award, the Beckman Institute CLOVER Center will partner with Prof. Andrew Steele of Cal Poly Pomona to build AAV production and dissemination capacity at the designated Hispanic-Serving Institution that also serves large populations of Pell-eligible, first-generation, and African American students.
Integral to these efforts is a new undergraduate training program called AAV BRAIN SENSUS Program for Inclusive Research Experience (ASPIRE). Joining Miles and Steele in leading the program is Damien Wolfe, an experienced CLOVER staff member who earned his bachelor's and master's degrees from Cal Poly Pomona. Being a Hispanic first-generation graduate himself, Damien aims to use his background and experience as a student and as a professional to help students of similar background thrive in the field of biological science. As ASPIRE Scientists, undergraduates from Cal Poly Pomona will receive extensive training and mentoring both at Caltech and Cal Poly Pomona while broadening the Armamentarium project's ability to validate and disseminate the next generation of modern gene delivery tools to understand and, eventually, treat the brain. It is hoped that these efforts will increase access to the research community and help to build a new, more diverse brain gene therapy workforce.