CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- The integrated Translational Health Research Institute of Virginia, or iTHRIV, has awarded pilot funding to four medical research projects.

According to a release, the $200,000 in funding will support the early-phase research projects to help accelerate the discovery of potential treatment options for cancer, depression and a gastrointestinal disorder that causes pain, as well as help patients who are recovering from rotator cuff surgery.

Physicians, researchers and engineers at the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech and Carilion Clinic were awarded funding as part of the iTHRIV Clinical and Translational Research Award from the National Center for Advancing Translational Science of the National Institutes of Health.

One of the projects aims to see if focused ultrasound can be used to treat depression.

The release says depression is among the most prevalent and debilitating psychiatric illnesses in the country and it is a leading cause of disability.

Sarah Clinton at VT's School of Neuroscience and Wynn Legon at UVA's Department of Neurosurgery will lead researchers to see how focused sound waves might be used to treat the condition.

Peter Apel at VT's Carilion School of Medicine and an orthopaedic surgeon at Carilion Clinic and Miguel Perez with VT's Transportation Institute will be exploring how changes in driving skills may shorten the amount of time patients are restricted from driving after undergoing rotator cuff repairs.

The release says more than 450,000 rotator cuff surgeries are performed each year across the country, but there is little data on when a person may be safe to return to driving.

A third project will explore identifying which cancer cells will respond to a particular chemotherapy treatment, by trying to create a device to identify cancer cells using machine learning principles and electrophysiology.

Nathan Swami in Electrical and Computer Engineering at UVA, Todd Bauer a surgery professor at UVA, and Eva Schmelz in VT's Department of Human Nutrition, Foods and Exercise will lead this team.

The last project involves Irving Allen from VT's Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine and Emily McGowan with UVA's School of Medicine.

It aims to address a gastrointestinal disorder called eosinophilic esophagitis, which causes inflammation in the esophagus that can make swallowing difficult for children and adults.