Opportunity Awards

The CCBS Opportunity award competition is open to any UCI graduate student or postdoctoral researcher (including project scientists, specialists, etc.).  Any pair (or trio) of individuals who meet the above criteria may jointly submit a proposal for this year's competition following the instructions below. The progress reports from last year's awardees are available below.

2020-21 Opportunity Awards - Application Closed


Enriching Models with Health Data

By this we mean proposals that take advantage of existing data from medicine, health systems, epidemiology, or any other health related professions to build, enhance, or improve mathematical, computational or statistical models that inform scientific understanding, clinical practice, and/or public policy.  Datasets such as the Cancer Genome Atlas, Cell and Brain Atlases, health records, and COVID-19 epidemiological data are some of the many types of starting points that could be considered.

Award Information

  • Each winning proposal will receive $10,000 to be shared among the participating labs.
  • For proposals submitted by a single student/postdoc, an additional $500 will given to the proposer for valid individual expenses.  For proposals submitted by two or more students/postdocs, an additional $1,000 with be divided equally among the proposers.
  • Funds are provided from federal research grants (NIH and NSF); therefore, all submitted expenses for the award must be considered relevant research expenses, excluding travel and personal expenses.
  • All awardees are expected to present the results of their project at the CCBS Annual Retreat, tentatively scheduled for March 26-28, 2021 in Pasadena, California.  Retreat registration fees for Opportunity Award presenters will be waived.


  • Any UCI graduate student or postdoctoral researcher (including project scientists, specialists etc), either individually or as a team, may submit a proposal.

Application Criteria

  • A short-term (up to 1 year), feasible research investigation that answers a research question related to this year’s theme
  • Must involve participation from at least one lab/research group from a different discipline or department than your own
  • Must be a “new” project

Proposal Submission

  • Proposal submission period has ended. This year's award recipients will be announced shortly!


This Year's Theme: Enriching Models with Health Data

2019 - 2020 Awardees


Variability and plasticity - That is: Research to understand diversity and difference, and its impact on phenotype and function.  Variability here refers to measurable differences across sets of genes, cells, molecules, networks, genotypes or organisms.

RNA Processing and Cell State Plasticity in the Colon Crypt

  • Amber Habrowski (Microbiology & Molecular Genetics) - Mariam Waterman Lab
  • Gabriela Balderrama (Developmental & Cell Biology) - Ali Mortazabi Lab









Multi-scale Analysis of Histone Acetylation Variability in the Cancer Genome to Predict Changes in Chromatin Function and Architecture

  • Navied Akhtar (Biomedical Engineering) - Tim Downing Lab
  • Alvaro Fletcher (Mathematics) - German Enciso Lab
  • Tessa Morris (Biomedical Engineering) - Anya Grosberg Lab







Elucidating Fibroblast and Pericyte Plasticity and their Roles in Cancer Using Temporal Single Cell RNA Sequencing of Microphysiological Cancer Models

  • Kevin Nee (Biological Chemistry) - Kai Kessenbrock Lab
  • Stephanie Hachey (Molecular Biology & Biochemistry) - Chris Hughes Lab

Plasticity and Diversity of Metastatic Breast Cancer Cells Revealed by Transcriptome Analysis

  • Gabriela Balderrama (Developmental & Cell Biology) - Ali Mortazavi Lab
  • Anastasia Ionkina (Chemistry) - Jennifer Prescher Lab

Identifying Altered Transcriptional Dynamics and Signaling Pathways in Vitiligo Affected Epidermis

  • Jessica Flesher (SOM Dermatology) - Anand Ganesan Lab
  • Lihua Zhang (Mathematics) - Qing Nie Lab
  • Suoqin Jin (CCBS) - Qing Nie Lab

Targeted Epigenetic Tools for the Control of Variability in Cardiac Differentiation of Patient-Derived iPSCs

  • Julien Morival (Biomedical Engineering) - Tim Downing Lab
  • Lily Widyastuti (Biological Chemistry) - Michael Zaragoza Lab

Variability and Plasticity of RAC1 and RHOA Signaling on Keratinocytes During Epidermal Regeneration

  • Rachel Cinco (Biomedical Engineering) - Michelle Digman Lab
  • Morgan Dragan (Biological Chemistry) - Xing Dai Lab

Examining the Mechanical Properties of Cells with Lamin A/C Mutations

  • Cody Combs (Physics and Astronomy) - Zusanna Siwy Lab
  • Richard Tran (Biomedical Engineering) - Anya Grosberg Lab
  • Michael Zaragoza Lab

Past Awardees