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).

At present there are four projects operating under the Pilot Program (for a listing of previous Pilot projects, click here):

1. A Center for Neuro/Nano Large-Scale Integration (N2LSI) is the goal of the Pilot Project initiated by Michael Roukes (Robert M.Abbey Professor of Physics, Applied Physics and Bioengineering, and Co-Director of the Kavli Nanoscience Institute) and Thanos Siapas (Professor of Computation and Neural Systems). They intend to develop nanoprobe arrays of electrodes to acquire signals from brain activity containing up to 10,000 channels, two orders of magnitude higher than what is currently possible. Successful implementation of such advanced technology will revolutionize the field of electrophysiology and the opportunities for gaining systems-level understanding of the brain.

2. A Pilot Program project led by Long Cai, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, has two main goals: first, to accelerate the application of single cell multiplex RNA profiling to a wide range of biological problems, and second, to provide three powerful techniques that are currently not available on campus: single molecule Fluorescence In Situ Hybridization (FISH) , super-resolution microscopy, and lightsheet microscopy.

3. The former Biological Network Modeling Center has been reconstituted as a new Pilot program, the Center for Advanced Methods in Biological Image Analysis (CAMBIA), with its main emphasis aimed at problems in image processing and analysis. The PIs of the project are Professors of Biology and Biological Engineering Elliot Meyerowitz and Angelike Stathopoulos, and the Center's Director is Alexandre Cunha.

4. A Neurotechnology Center was approved by the BIXC as a Pilot project in 2015, under the leadership of Markus Meister, David Anderson and Michael Dickinson, to support neuroscience research programs at Caltech in the design, construction and maintenance of instrumentation, integration with computers, and development of data analysis methods. The process of staffing and equipping the new center is now underway.

Potential applicants for new Pilot projects are encouraged to consult with the BI Director, Prof. David Tirrell, 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 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 (if that is the case).
  2. Proposals are normally received during the first part of each calendar year. The next deadline for submission of proposals is March 15, 2017.
  3. Requests will be considered for funding up to $200K 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).