The intercampus program supports multidisciplinary research partnerships between CU Anschutz and CU Boulder

AB Nexus By the Numbers

48 research teams awarded grants

 $3M+ in total seed funding

​ 40 different areas/departments represented

​ $15M+ in subsequent external funding awarded

​ 25 peer-reviewed publications by awardees

*Since December 2020

Today, the AB Nexus program announced its sixth round of grant awards to researchers from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and the University of Colorado Boulder. From advancing new Alzheimer’s treatments to developing predictive computer models to help youth in crisis, the awarded teams are advancing a wide range of collaborative research projects aimed at improving human health and well-being. 

AB Nexus is a unique program that fosters interdisciplinary research collaborations between CU Anschutz and CU Boulder. By bringing together experts from multiple fields—psychiatrists, computer scientists, engineers, chemists, neurologists, oncologists and pharmacists, to name a few—the program has catalyzed a new culture of research collaboration while expediting scientific discovery.

“Research institutions often have a reputation for working in silos, but we’re shifting that paradigm through AB Nexus,” said Dr. Thomas Flaig, vice chancellor for research at CU Anschutz. “This grant program supports multidisciplinary research teams that can analyze health challenges from multiple angles and then collaborate to find innovative solutions.” 

Since launching nearly three years ago as a pilot project, AB Nexus and its co-sponsors have awarded more than $3 million in grant funding to 48 intercampus teams. In addition, the program has positioned both campuses for success in securing additional external funding – particularly for grants that prioritize team-based research. 

“The outcomes arising from AB Nexus have far exceeded our expectations,” said Massimo Ruzzene, CU Boulder vice chancellor for research and innovation and dean of the institutes. “Project teams are securing almost $7 in follow-on funding for every $1 we’ve invested, and we see evidence that the return on investment is increasing as those projects continue to produce new findings."

In under three years, the teams that received AB Nexus grants went on to secure more than $15 million in external grants and published more than 25 peer-reviewed studies. 

“Just as impressive is the growing sense of shared purpose across our campuses and the new collaborations that AB Nexus stimulates,” added Ruzzene.

Awarded teams to tackle wide range of health challenges

The Spring 2023 round of AB Nexus awards provides nearly $825,000 across 11 teams—seven new collaborations and four projects that expand upon existing collaborations. These funds include generous co-sponsor support: $62,500 from the University of Colorado Cancer Center, $40,000 from the Linda Crnic Institute for Down syndrome, $22,500 from the Crnic Institute Boulder Branch (a BioFrontiers Institute research group), $45,000 from the University of Colorado Boulder’s College of Engineering and Applied Science, and $10,000 from the University of Colorado Boulder’s Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering.

Amanda Winters - cancer blood testAmong the collaborative research projects that received AB Nexus awards:  

  • A neuroscientist and molecular biologist are studying the effects of in-utero nicotine exposure and whether it increases the risk of ADHD, autism and substance abuse in future generations. 
  • A biochemist and oncologist are collaborating to understand the mechanisms of a novel biomarker that could be used to determine which patients will respond to a targeted cancer drug. 
  • A computer scientist and psychologist will utilize computer modeling to identify the physiologic signals that precede severe problem behaviors in developmentally disabled youth, potentially enabling caregivers to intervene before a situation escalates to a crisis. 
  • A pharmacist and neuroscientist are working to better understand the mechanisms that link early life stress to prefrontal cortex impairment in the hopes of guiding new strategies for treating anxiety disorders later in life.
  • An endocrinologist and chemical engineer are teaming up to study specialized immune cells in the brain (microglia) and determine whether targeting the lipid metabolism process could mitigate the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. 

With the support of joint-campus leadership, the next AB Nexus award cycle will occur in Spring 2024. More information will be available online this fall.

“When we work together across disciplines and apply our collective scientific knowledge to pressing research questions, we can make a significant impact. That’s what this program is all about,” said Flaig.