Beckman Institute Pilot Program

The Beckman Institute Pilot Program is designed to increase the BI’s flexibility and responsiveness to new directions and innovations from the Caltech community. Pilot projects are typically at early stages of development, and need support for an exploratory period during which their suitability as future Resource Centers or Facilities can be demonstrated (although other trajectories are possible as well). Support may be provided in the form of money and/or space, as appropriate.

At present there are five projects operating under the Pilot Program (click here to see previous projects):

  • Scott Cushing‘s lab is constructing a “table-top” X-ray absorption beamline that will greatly expand capabilities for X-ray absorption spectroscopy for the Caltech research community.  A user-friendly system is expected to be available within 1-2 years.
  • A gift from an anonymous donor enabled acquisition of a highly advanced opto-microfludics instrument (the Beacon, manufactured by Berkeley Lights) that allows manipulation, culture, assay and recovery of thousands of individual cells using light.  This gift has enabled the creation of the Beacon Center for Single Cell Biology, which is directed by Kate Malecek and sponsored by BBE professor Pamela Bjorkman. The Beacon Center will be a major focus of an integrated Center, to be established during the upcoming year.
  • A pilot project directed by Anna Romano and CCE Professor Rustem Ismagilov aims to make emerging automated approaches for quantitative, low-biomass microbial sequencing available to the Caltech community.
  • A pilot project for Deep Tissue Molecular and Cellular Imaging and Control (DeepMIC), directed by Di Wu and professor Mikhail Shapiro (CCE and EAS), will work with labs at Caltech to provide access to instruments, molecular and cellular tools, and expertise for deep tissue imaging and control in their model systems.
  • The Center for Image Analysis (CIMA), led by Alexandre Cunha and BBE professor Elliot Meyerowitz, develops methods for processing and analysis of bioimages from cell biology and related studies, providing computing capabilities and software. Its mission is to help the Caltech community advance discoveries by sharing best practices in its areas of expertise so labs can concentrate on their scientific goals.

Potential applicants for new Pilot projects are encouraged to consult with the BI Director, Prof. Marianne Bronner, the BI Administrator, Dr. Jay Labinger, and/or one or more member(s) of the BI Executive Committee, before preparing and submitting a proposal. Proposals that demonstrate potential synergy with existing Resource Center programs are especially welcome; information on current BI activities may be found elsewhere on this website.

Guidelines for proposals are as follows:

  1. Proposals should be concise (10 pages maximum), and should clearly indicate the potential of the proposed project as a future Resource Center, the plan for the exploratory period, rational for BI funding, and how BI funding will be leveraged by other sources.
  2. Proposals are normally received during the first part of each calendar year. The next deadline for submission of proposals is March 15, 2025.
  3. Requests will be considered for funding up to $125K per year for a period of 1-3 years.
  4. Proposals must be accompanied by a Divisional Approval Form signed by the appropriate division chair(s).