Collaborating for the Advancement of Interdisciplinary Research in Benign Urology

CAIRIBU Opportunities and Awards

A comprehensive list of all awards and grants from the CAIRIBU Community, the CAIRIBU-affiliated George M. O’Brien U54 Cooperative Urology Research Centers, and the CAIRIBU U24 Interactions Core is HERE.

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  • These awards are for early stage investigators OR established investigators not previously involved in benign genitourinary research. Awards should be integrated within the overall research goals of a current O’Brien Urology Center and, where possible, make use of existing Biomedical Cores or other resources at the parent Center.
  • This program seeks to encourage interactions between the O’Brien Urology Centers and the broader research community. Goals include: (1) Increase the capacity of the urology research community by leveraging existing Urology Center resources; and (2) Support generation of preliminary data that can be used for future grant applications
  • Depending on funds available, applicants may request up to $100,000 Direct Costs each year for a maximum Project Period of two years.
  • For more information and to discuss funding and other details, contact the PI of the U54 O’Brien Urology Center with whom the proposal is aligned:
    • Stanford UniversityJames Books, MD (
    • University of Wisconsin-MadisonWill Ricke, PhD (
    • Columbia UniversityCathy Mendelsohn, PhD (; Ali Gharavi, MD (; Jonathan Barasch, MD, PhD (, Columbia University; Anne-Catrin Uhlemann, MD, PhD (

Download the Opportunity Pool application process HERE and full instructions HERE (pages 3-4)


  • For travel-related expenses (e.g., ground or air transportation, lodging, per diems) associated with training for the purpose of advancing the benign urology research capacity of a CAIRIBU Center or Program, an individual in a CAIRIBU Center or Program, or an individual from the broader benign urology research community – up to $3,500 per award is available
    • Examples may include:
      • Spending several days with an expert from a CAIRIBU Center or Program (or, for those within a CAIRIBU Center or Program, from some other expert) to learn some experimental technique or process
      • Participating in a “hands-on” training session or workshop related to the trainee’s work or career
      • Some other educational experience directly related to the applicant’s benign urology research program or career
  • While applications from investigators at any career stage are welcome, those from early investigators, trainees, and research staff will be prioritized
  • For more information, contact Dr. Kristina Penniston, director of interactions for NIDDK CAIRIBU Centers and Programs (

Download the CAIRIBU Research T&D grant description – 2021.


  • Awardees may receive up to $2,000/event for travel-related expenses (e.g., transportation, lodging and meals) and meeting registration fees for virtual or in person conferences
  • Each O’Brien Urology Center, P20 Developmental Program, or K12 Career Development Program has access to funds from the CAIRIBU Interactions Core to award up to 3 travel grants per event
  • As announcements for individual CAIRIBU Center or Program events are made, watch for details about applying
  • For general information, contact Dr. Kristina Penniston, director of interactions for NIDDK CAIRIBU Centers and Programs (; see details HERE (page 7)



Congratulations to Duke University K12 Scholar Dr. Maryellen Kelly on receiving a CAIRIBU Interactions Core Collaboration Award for her proposal “Composition of the Urinary Microbiome in Children.” Dr. Kelly is joined by Co-PI Dr. Tatyana Sysoeva (University of Alabama at Huntsville) and Co-Investigator Dr. Lisa Karstens (Oregon Health and Science University). They have formed a new research collaboration to (1) evaluate, with species-level resolution, the urinary microbiome and composition of children, and (2) compare the urinary microbiome in pilot cohorts of children with and without rUTI. Long-term goals of the project are to develop a non-invasive clinical urine test that can predict children at high risk for rUTI and to develop a non-antibiotic intervention strategy for reducing rUTI in the identified at-risk population.



These one time awards were related to the research objectives of either the University of Wisconsin-Madison or University of Pittsburgh George M. O’Brien Cooperative Urology (U54) Centers. Congratulations to recipients of the CAIRIBU Convergence Awards Laura Pascal, PhD and Douglas Strand, PhD.

Dr. Pascal’s project, “Aerobic exercise reduces prostatic inflammation,” is funded by the University of Pittsburgh George M. O’Brien Cooperative Urology Center. Her project aims to (1) establish the correlation between central obesity and serum leptin with prostatic  macrophage inflammation in human BPH, (2) determine the role of leptin in prostate macrophage inflammation, and (3) determine if leptin decreases integrity of the epithelial barrier by TGFβ-1 mediated inhibition of E-cadherin expression.

Dr. Strand’s project, “Spatial profiling in human BPH/LUTS,” is funded by the University of Wisconsin-Madison George M. O’Brien Cooperative Urology Center. The  goals of Dr. Strand’s project are to optimize immunofluorescence protocols for targets selected by CAIRIBU investigators and perform spatial profiling on select regions of interest in human lower urinary tract specimens.


U54 George M. O’Brien Urology Centers Program Opportunity Pool Awards, 2021

UW-Madison O’Brien Center

  1. Teresa Liu, PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison, will study the role that cellular senescence in the prostate has on epigenetic changes associated with frailty.
  2. Scott Bauer, MD, Northern California Institute for Research and Education (NCIRE), will study the relationship between mitochondrial dysfunction and LUTS in older men with the University of Wisconsin-Madison O’Brien Center
  3. Leonard R MacGillivray, PhD, University of Iowa, will study the development of cocrystals for the treatment of BPH/LUTS with the University of Wisconsin-Madison O’Brien Center
  4. Shane Wells, MD, University of Wisconsin-Madison, will optimize a prostate-specific passive driver and determine MRE imaging parameters with the University of Wisconsin-Madison O’Brien Center

Columbia University O’Brien Center

  1. Catherine Brownstein, PhD, MPH, Harvard Medical School, will use an integrative approach to study genetic and urinary microbiome contributors to interstitial cystitis (also called bladder pain syndrome) in women in collaboration with the Columbia University O’Brien Center
  2. Catherine Putonti, PhD, Loyola University Chicago, will use novel bioinformatic analytical tools to investigate urobiome interactions in people with urinary tract infections in collaboration with the Columbia University O’Brien Center

Congratulations to these awardees!


The Columbia University U54 George M. O’Brien Center awarded CAIRIBU Research Travel Grants to 3 young investigators who attended the Center’s symposium in October 2019 on the microbiome of the genitourinary tract. Two clinician scientists and one graduate student received awards. PIs of the Columbia University U54 O’Brien Center are: Cathy Mendelsohn, PhD; Jonathan Barasch, MD (shown in photo), PhD; and Ali Gharavi, MD.

  • Dr. Alexis Dieter is an assistant professor and urologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  • Dr. Megan Bradley is an assistant professor and urologist at the Magee Women’s Hospital at the University of Pittsburgh
  • Bisiayo Fashemi is a graduate student in developmental biology at Washington University in the laboratory of Dr. Indira Mysorekar.


Livianna Myklebust (center in photo), an undergraduate research scholar in the University of Wisconsin-Madison U54 O’Brien Center Summer Program for Undergraduate Urological Research, received a CAIRIBU Research Training and Development Grant to travel to the University Pittsburgh U54 O’Brien Center to learn a wholemount prostate clearing method in the laboratory of Dr. Alan Watson. Livianna is a research intern in Dr. Will Ricke’s laboratory at the UW-Madison (Will Ricke is shown at right in the photo; Teresa Liu, UW-Madison K12 Scholar, is shown at left). While at University of Pittsburgh, Livianna provided training to Don DeFranco, PhD on a multiplex staining technique for human tissue slides. Livianna spent about 2 weeks in Pittsburgh in July 2019. Her project is helping to build collaborations between the two Centers.


Dr. Ayfer Akgul, a post-doctoral trainee in the laboratory of Dr. Marguerite Hatch at University of Florida, received a CAIRIBU Travel Grant to attend the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) P20 Developmental Center conference on obesity and kidney stones on July 11-12, 2019. Collaboration between kidney stone researchers at UAB, including Dr. Dean Assimos, P20 PI, and the Hatch Lab at University of Florida are planned.