Research projects

Latest AB Nexus Grants Advance Innovative Cross-Campus Research Projects | Office of Research and Innovation

Catalyze a culture of collaboration


Today the Nexus AB announced its fourth round of faculty grants at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and the University of Colorado Boulder. From advancing new treatments for cancer and diabetes to developing AI tools to diagnose dementia, selected teams bring together experts from multiple disciplines to advance basic science and translational research that improve health and human well-being.

Supported by the University of Colorado President’s Initiative, AB Nexus provides funding to stimulate new cross-campus collaborations and innovations. Since its launch just over two years ago, the initiative has awarded more than $2 million in grants.

“We are thrilled to recognize another outstanding group of research teams in their collaborative efforts to advance new discoveries in the health sciences,” said Thomas Flaig, MD, vice chancellor for research at CU Medical Campus. Anschutz. “When we strengthen opportunities for CU Anschutz and CU Boulder faculty to work together, we can have a much greater impact on solving pressing health issues.”

By fostering interdisciplinary partnerships between scientists, engineers and physicians from diverse fields, AB Nexus has catalyzed a new culture of collaboration between CU Boulder and CU Anschutz. This enhanced campus connectivity has already expanded CU’s collective research enterprise while creating new funding opportunities. AB Nexus-funded teams have already raised over $4 million in external funding and published more than a dozen peer-reviewed research studies on topics ranging from microplastics to sepsis.

“What continues to impress me about the AB Nexus initiative is the enthusiasm and creativity of researchers on both campuses,” said Massimo Ruzzene, acting vice chancellor for research and innovation at CU. Boulder. “Our researchers look forward to working together across disciplines and campuses to find solutions to some of the most important issues we face. It is clear that AB Nexus is leading the way in these new solutions and playing a key role in fostering existing and new collaborations.

The latest round of AB Nexus awards offers $500,000 to seven teams: five new projects and two that expand existing collaborations. These funds include $87,500 from University of Colorado Cancer Center to co-sponsor cancer-related research projects.

New collaboration aims to develop better screening tools for dementia

Recent winners include a new research project led by Peter Foltz, research professor at CU Boulder’s Institute of Cognitive Sciences (ICS), and Peter Pressman, assistant professor of neurology at CU Anschutz. Together they are developing reliable artificial intelligence (AI) tools to improve the diagnosis of dementia and stimulate clinicians’ acceptance of these new low-cost screening methods

Although dementia is common in older adults, the screening process can be long, costly and often results in unequal access to services. Many older people with memory problems do not receive an evaluation and diagnosis until the neurodegeneration has progressed markedly.

Recognizing the need for earlier and more sensitive diagnostic tools that promote equity and inclusiveness in healthcare, this research team has developed AI-based screening software that could lead to earlier detection dementia. The tool analyzes how patients speak in conversation to create a low-cost assessment of neurological functioning. Building on cross-campus strengths in AI, machine learning, language processing, neurodegenerative diseases, and neuropsychological assessment, this AB Nexus award will lay the groundwork for future longitudinal studies on improving screening dementia and faster interventions.

To learn more about this program, visit AB Nexus website.