CAIRIBU Opportunities and Awards

2024 CAIRIBU Collaboration Awards

Awards of $50,000 each (direct costs, 1 year) are available periodically throughout the year from the CAIRIBU U24 Interactions Core. The application deadline for the 2024 CAIRIBU Collaboration Award has passed. Stay tuned for future RFAs. All CAIRIBU-affiliated investigators are eligible. View the March 2024 RFA. 

View the comprehensive list of all awards and grants available from CAIRIBU-affiliated George M. O’Brien U54 Cooperative Urology Research Centers and the CAIRIBU U24 Interactions Core. Contents include:

  • Description of purpose and eligibility of each award and grant
  • Process for submitting each award and grant
  • Worksheets for completing the Research Development & Training and Conference & Data Dissemination Grant applications
  • Budget pages for claiming post-event reimbursement for the Research Development & Training and Conference & Data Dissemination Grants
  • Evaluation criteria for each award and grant

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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:
    • University of Wisconsin-MadisonWilliam Ricke, PhD (
    • Columbia UniversityCathy Mendelsohn, PhD (; Ali Gharavi, MD (; Jonathan Barasch, MD, PhD (, Columbia University; Anne-Catrin Uhlemann, MD, PhD (
    • Stanford University – James Brooks, MD (

View the complete instructions for the Opportunity Pool Award. Included are details on the application process and sample NIH application and budget pages.


  • 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 (

View the CAIRIBU Research Training and Development Grants description (pages 2-5)


  • 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 (page 6)

IF YOU HAVE BEEN AWARDED A TRAVEL GRANT, complete the form HERE within 2 weeks of the event and provide relevant receipts; follow instructions on the form for submitting to the CAIRIBU Interactions Core.


CAIRIBU Interactions Core Collaboration Awards

December 2023 Recipient:

Henry Schreiber, PhD is an Instructor in the Department of Molecular Microbiology at Washington University in St. Louis. He received a CAIRIBU Collaboration award for his proposal, “Modeling multiple sclerosis-induced susceptibility to urinary tract infection in mice”. Dr. Schreiber received his PhD at University of Washington where he studied genetics and metagenomics of bacterial pathogenesis and was awarded two fellowships from the Lucille P. Markey Special Emphasis Pathway as well as the Monsanto Excellence Fund. He completed the Della Martin Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at California Institute of Technology. His research interests focus on the intersection between microbe-induced inflammation, bacterial infection, and neuropathology.

August 2023 Recipients:

Ramy Goueli, MD, MHS is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Urology at UT Southwestern Medical Center. He specializes in voiding dysfunction, urinary incontinence, benign prostatic diseases, bladder outlet obstruction, geriatric urology, female pelvic floor disorders, and neuro-urology. Dr. Goueli was awarded a CAIRIBU Collaboration award for his proposal, “Neuroendocrine cells function in the ageing human female urethra”. Dr. Goueli earned his medical degree at the Yale School of Medicine. He completed his residency in urology at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and gained advanced training in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery through a fellowship at UT Southwestern. He also holds a master’s degree in health sciences from Yale.

Rose Khavari, MDRose Khavari, MD is a Professor of Urology at Houston Methodist. Dr. Khavari specializes in male and female incontinence, robotic and laparoscopic surgery, prolapse, neurogenic bladder (multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury), and urinary issues after prostate surgery. She received a CAIRIBU Collaboration award for her proposal, “Optimization of onabotulinumtoxinA (BTX-A) injection for the treatment of neurogenic lower urinary tract dysfunction”. Dr. Rose Khavari earned her medical doctorate degree with highest honors from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas, while serving as the president for Alpha Omega Alpha medical honor society. She completed her residency in Urology at Baylor College of Medicine, followed by a fellowship in male and female continence, pelvic floor reconstructive surgery, urogynecology and neurourology.

February 2023 Recipients:

Catherine Brownstein, PhD, MPH, MEM is an Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School, manager of the Molecular Genomics Core Facility at Boston Children’s Hospital, and the Scientific Director for the Orphan Disease Research Gene Discovery Core. Dr. Brownstein was awarded a CAIRIBU Collaboration Award for her proposal, “Inclusion of minorities in studies of Interstitial Cystitis/Bladder Pain Syndrome”. Dr. Brownstein completed her PhD in Genetics at Yale University. The focus of her dissertation was the genetic basis of X-linked hypophosphatemic rickets without mutations in PHEX and FGF23, and the role of Klotho in phosphate regulation.

LaTasha Crawford, VMD, PhD, DACVP is an Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin – Madison in the School of Veterinary Medicine. The Crawford lab examines cell-specific mechanisms underlying pain, allodynia, and peripheral neuropathies using a range of cutting-edge neuroscience techniques and comparative histopathology. Dr. Crawford was awarded one of three CAIRIBU Collaboration Awards for her proposal, “An ex vivo platform for the study of sensory neuroplasticity as a link between bladder disease and referred pain”. Dr. Crawford’s PhD is in Neuroscience from the University of Pennsylvania. She then completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine to work on developing genetic tools to enable investigation of the role of touch neurons in pain-related pathology.

Alejandro Roldán-Alzate, PhD, MS is an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he directs the UW Cardiovascular Fluid Dynamics Laboratory which focuses its research on fluid dynamics analysis of physiological and pathological flows using a combination of medical imaging, additive manufacturing and computational fluid dynamics. Dr. Roldán-Alzate was awarded a CAIRIBU Collaboration Award for his proposal, “A multidisciplinary, non-invasive assessment of the bladder response to filling”. Dr. Roldán-Alzate completed his PhD in Cardiovascular Fluid Mechanics and Computational Fluid Dynamics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

2022 Recipients:

 Betsy Salazar, PhD is a Research Scientist in the laboratory of former University of Pittsburgh O’Brien Center Opportunity Pool awardee Rose Khavari, MD (Houston Methodist). Dr. Salazar was awarded one of two CAIRIBU Collaboration Awards for her proposal, “Characterization of spinal neural networks involved in the control of the lower urinary tract: a novel spinal fMRI feasibility trial.” Dr. Salazar earned a PhD in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Houston and then completed a postdoc where she worked on therapeutic strategies promoting remyelination and motor recovery in patients with spinal cord injuries. She recently joined the Khavari lab to begin focusing on the brain-bladder connection.

Nazema Siddiqui, MD, MHSc is a urogynecologist and Associate Professor at Duke University and a former K12 KURe Scholar in the CAIRIBU KURe Program at Duke University. Dr. Siddiqui was awarded a CAIRIBU Collaboration Award for her proposal, Development of humanized mouse models for studies of the urogenital microbiome.” Dr. Siddiqui completed an Obstetrics & Gynecology residency at Cleveland Clinic and then a fellowship in Female Pelvic Medicine & Reconstructive Surgery at Duke University.


2021 Recipients:

Congratulations to Duke University K12 Scholar Maryellen Kelly, DPNP, CPNP, MHSc 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 Tatyana Sysoeva, PhD (University of Alabama at Huntsville) and Co-Investigator Lisa Karstens, PhD, MBI (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.

Congratulations also to Teresa Liu, PhD, Assistant Scientist in the UW-Madison Department of Urology and UW-Madison U54 George M. O’Brien Center. She was a prior K12 Scholar in the UW-Madison Multidisciplinary Urologic Research K12 Career Development Program. Dr. Liu’s CAIRIBU Collaboration award is for her proposal, “Prenatal estrogenic exposure contributes to racial disparity in the development of BPH/LUTS.” Dr. Liu’s hypothesis is that early exposure to estrogen leads to epigenetic changes in estrogen receptor and estrogen receptor-activated genes, resulting in higher susceptibility of African American men for benign prostate hyperplasia.


CAIRIBU Convergence Awards

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, 2022

Stanford O’Brien Center

  • Kimberly Keil Stietz, PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison, will study the impact of developmental PCBs on neural activity in the pontine micturition center in collaboration with the Stanford University O’Brien Center

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 in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin-Madison O’Brien Center
  2. Scott Bauer, MD, University of California, San Francisco, will study the relationship between mitochondrial dysfunction and LUTS in older men in collaboration 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 in collaboration 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 in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin-Madison O’Brien Center

Columbia University O’Brien Center

  1. Brooke Armfield, PhD, University of Florida, will test the hypothesis that during mouse bladder development males and females exhibit qualitative and quantitative sex differences at the single-cell level in collaboration with the Columbia University O’Brien Center
  2. Kris Prado, MD, Stanford University, will determine if mouse fibroblasts can be directly converted into urothelial stem cells and if transdifferentiated urothelial stem cells function similar to Keratin 14 expressing basal urothelial cells in collaboration with the Columbia University O’Brien Center
  3. Michael Ahdoot, MD, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, will aim aim to use innovative bladder organoid models to investigate the role of epigenetic memory induced by uropathogenic E. coli (UPEC) in collaboration with the Columbia University O’Brien Center
  4. 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
  5. 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.