We are delighted to announce the winners of the first Taconic-Cyagen Custom Animal Model Awards (CAMA) competition. For the inaugural contest, we received numerous innovative research applications which have undergone our review process. Now that the winning applicants have accepted their awards, we are excited to share their information as well as some brief notes about their respective research model plans.

As part of the strategic non-profit alliance formed by Taconic Biosciences and Cyagen Biosciences, the Taconic-Cyagen CAMA competition aims to support high-value biomedical research projects that utilize mouse or rat models. This unique contest offers a variety of awards for non-profit researchers seeking to develop a novel animal model that would serve to advance their field of study.

This competition will provide a range of awards, collectively valued at over $77,350, to help develop custom animal model (CAM) projects that will bring the most impact to their respective research fields. One Grand Prize winner will receive a free TurboKnockout® mouse model project ($31,550 value). Additionally, the top 6 awards come with Taconic’s RapidCHECK™ health confirmation and delivery service valued at over $2,800. 

Thank you to everyone who participated in this competition – be sure to join our mailing list and follow Cyagen on social media (LinkedIn, Twitterto stay informed about future funding opportunities


Official Taconic-Cyagen CAMA Winners 2021

Below, we have included the information about the various research groups and projects which were selected as winners of the inaugural Taconic-Cyagen Custom Animal Model Awards (CAMA) competition.

Bronze Prizes – 3 Recipients

Czechowicz Lab

Agnieszka Czechowicz MD, PhD

Assistant Professor of Pediatrics

Division of Stem Cell Transplantation and Regenerative Medicine

Stanford University School of Medicine


Carla Dib

Postdoctoral Scholar | Czechowicz Lab

Department of Pediatrics

Division of Stem Cell Transplantation and Regenerative Medicine

Stanford University | School of Medicine


Leah Swartzrock

Life Science Technician II |Czechowicz Lab 

Department of Pediatrics 

Division of Stem Cell Transplantation and Regenerative Medicine 

Stanford University | School of Medicine  


Hubmacher Lab

Dirk Hubmacher, PhD

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Department of Orthopedics

Orthopedic Research Laboratories

New York, NY, USA


Brief Research Statement:          

“With the CAMA award, we will generate a personalized model for geleophysic dysplasia, which is a rare syndromic connective tissue disorder. While the complete deletion of ADAMTSL2, one of the genes mutated in geleophysic dysplasia, told us something about the function of the gene, it does not necessarily recapitulate the effects of point mutations, which were described for most patients. This is especially relevant for a secreted protein, such as ADAMTSL2, where a point mutation could alter its function outside of the cell, but could also result in its retention in the secretory pathway and compromise cell function. The new model can also be used to test innovative therapeutic approaches for geleophysic dysplasia.”


Nam Lab

Young-Jae Nam, MD, PhD

Assistant Professor of Medicine

Vanderbilt University Medical Center


Silver Prizes – 2 Recipients

Baldus Lab

Yulia Kargapolova, PhD

Research Group of Professor Stephan Baldus

Department III of Internal Medicine

University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany


Brief Research Statement:

“Age is one of the major risk factors for chronic diseases affecting mostly adult population. Understanding mechanisms of physiological ageing and means to delay ageing processes or even reverse them is important to improve the quality of life and health of population. Numerous studies have revealed that ageing is associated with the decline in the catabolic processes of autophagy, decrease of stem cells number and accumulation of DNA damage throughout the life span. Accordingly, individuals with rare premature ageing syndromes, who experience accelerated ageing, often carry mutations in the genes responsible for DNA repair. In our previous study, we identified yet another rare and poorly understood disease of premature ageing, Hallermann-Streiff syndrome to be a consequence of a disturbed autophagy regulation. Taconic-Cyagen Custom Animal Model Award will allow us to generate first ever mouse model of Hallermann-Streiff syndrome. We aim to study progression of this disease and propose treatments for it. We also believe this model will become a good tool to understand physiological ageing due to de-regulated autophagy.”


Zhang Lab

Xinli Zhang, MD PhD 

Adjunct Professor and Research Director 

Section of Orthodontics, Division of Growth and Development 

School of Dentistry, University of California, Los Angeles 


Brief Research Statement:

“With over 20 years’ research endeavor at forefront on a novel osteogenic protein Nell-1 from basic functional characterization to clinical translation in human trial, I am confident that the CAMA award will empower my further pursue of the mechanistic insights and greater potentials of Nell-1 as a multifaceted factor in the fascinating fields of the neuroskeletal biology, neuroscience, and regenerative medicine.”   


Grand Prize Recipient

Tou Yia Vue, PhD

Assistant Professor

The University of New Mexico, Cancer Center


Brief Research Statement:

“Our research aims to understand the process by which glial cells such as oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs) and glioma cells migrate toward axon fiber tracts or white matter, and how these cells remain undifferentiated and highly proliferative in the central nervous system (CNS). We believe that the Contactin 1 (Cntn1) gene, which encodes for a cell adhesion molecule, plays an important role in mediating these processes in the brain. The Cntn1-floxed mouse model will enable to us to directly test our hypothesis in a temporal and cell-type specific manner in OPCs and glioma cells. Once our studies are published, we will share this mouse model with other researchers who are interested in using it for their own studies. Because the Cntn1 gene is important for the development of a number of non-CNS cell types and organs, and the metastasis of a variety of cancers, this mouse model will help so many people.”