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Pilot and Feasibility Program

The Pilot Feasibility Studies Program, known as the O'Brien Fellowship Program, is designed so investigators new to the potential of optical microscopy can begin to realize its transformational potential for their research. Up to ten O’Brien Fellows will be selected by the executive committee, consisting of core directors, each year.

Fellows will stay in Indianapolis in on-campus furnished apartments or local hotels for up to four weeks. Fellowship funds will help defray the cost of return travel to Indianapolis, apartment rental/hotel stay, supplies and consumables, animal procurement, housing, microscope and analysis time.

Each fellow will be assigned to a liaison who is a senior investigator associated with the O'Brien Center. The fellow will be provided with extensive training on the optical microscope systems needed for their project, and in other related techniques relevant to the proposed project. The visiting fellow will present their proposed research project to the O’Brien biomedical base for input at the beginning of their stay.

Application Process

Researchers interested in applying for an O’Brien Center fellowship should send preliminary inquiries by email to Dr. Tim Sutton at

Include the following:

  • A brief 1-2 page description of the project, including the rationale for working in Indianapolis
  • An NIH biosketch

Applicants need to demonstrate the ability to establish the techniques acquired during the fellowship as part of the ongoing research program of their home laboratory and institution, but fellowship support is otherwise open to both faculty and trainees (pre- or post-doctoral). Applicants will be contacted by the O'Brien Center to discuss the feasibility of the proposed studies and to develop a research plan. Final decisions about fellowship awards will be made by the director of the O’Brien Center, with input from the center’s Internal Advisory Committee.

Download the application

Fellowship Program Committee

portrait of bruce molitoris

Bruce A. Molitoris, MD, MS

Distinguished Professor Emeritus

portrait of ken dunn

Kenneth W. Dunn, PhD

Professor of Medicine

portrait of richard bacallao

Robert L. Bacallao, MD

Professor Emeritus of Medicine

Current Fellows

  • View List
    Name Affiliation Study
    Brian Becknell The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital
    Columbus, OH 
    Monocyte Recruitment During Acute Pyelonephritis
    Thomas Pannabecker

    University of Arizona
    Tuscon, AZ

    Intravital Imaging of the Renal Inner Medula
    Patrick Cunningham Section of Nephrology, University of Chicago
    Chicago, IL
    Impact of Fenestrae Changes on Protein Filtration in LPS-induced AKI
    Tarek El-Achkar
    Pierre Dagher
    Seth Winfree
    Indianapolis, IN
    Large scale tissue imaging
    Elif Erkan

    Cincinnati Children's Medical Center
    Cincinnati, OH

    Mechanism of Albumin Endocytosis in Proximal Tubule Cells
    Indra Chandrasekar Sanford Research
    Sioux Falls, SD
    Nonmuscle Myosin II in Renal Tubular Endocytosis and Kidney Function
    May Elbanna
    Roberto Pili

    Indianapolis, IN

    Understanding the mechanisms of resistance to PI3K pathway targeted therapy in PIK3CA mutant bladder cancer
    Takashi Hato IU School of Medicine
    Indianapolis, IN
    Identification of specific metabolic species with intravital fluorescence lifetime imaging
    Yang Sun Glick Eye Institute
    IU School of Medicine
    Indianapolis, IN
    Characterization of phosphoinositides in primary cilia in renal tubular cells in health and disease
    Roger Wiggins University of Michigan
    Ann Arbor, MI
    Podocyte injury-induced change in glomerular blood flow