COBRE Receives NIH Funding for Final Phase of Junior Faculty Research Development Program

The University of Kentucky's Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) on the Molecular Basis of Human Disease was recently awarded a third phase of National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding for a program to develop its research community and center dedicated to human disease.

With this new $1.25 million annual grant, UK's COBRE will build upon achievements of a research development program that initially received NIH support in 2004. During the past 10 years, the program has fostered the research endeavors of junior faculty, providing mentorship, resources, pilot projects and facilities to enhance translational studies on major health issues within the state, including cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Junior faculty research projects conducted at the center focus on the cellular mechanisms that lead to these diseases.

Prior to receiving the Phase III grant in early July, the center proved successful in fulfilling objectives of Phase I and Phase II of the program. Objectives of these first phases included championing the research of junior faculty, obtaining external research funding, establishing core research facilities and increasing the number of researchers investigating human disease. Twelve academic units in the College of Medicine were represented in the first two phases of the grant.

"Receiving the Phase III COBRE grant reflects on the fact that we've been extremely successful in the last 10 years in mentoring and promoting junior faculty. It’s the accomplishments of these junior faculty that made this award possible," Lou Hersh, professor of molecular and biological chemistry and principal investigator for the grant, said of obtaining Phase III funding.

As evidence of the program's success, COBRE junior faculty members have published more than 400 papers in scientific journals with more than 4,000 references to their research. In the past 10 years, junior faculty members supported by this COBRE have served as principal investigators or co-principal investigators for 27 NIH RO1 grants, 11 other NIH grants, and 41 peer-reviewed extramural grants. Sixteen junior faculty members involved in the program have served on grant panels, including 11 NIH study panels. Three prestigious National Institutes of Health Macaig Awards for excellence in translational research were won by junior faculty at the University of Kentucky supported by this COBRE. In addition eight intellectual patents have resulted from the program.

With this funding, the Center for Molecular Medicine has supported five scientific cores: a Protein Core, an Organic Synthesis Core, a Proteomics Core, an Imaging Core and a Genetic Technologies Core. These cores have had a major impact on increasing the research infrastructure at UK. Phase III will support the Protein Core, the Organic Synthesis Core, the Proteomics Core, and the Genetic Technologies Core as research resources for faculty at the University of Kentucky.

The NIH's Institutional Development Award (IdeA) program is designed to grow research capacities within states with historically low levels of NIH funding. In total, this COBRE has received $20 million in NIH funding and in this Phase III P30 grant is scheduled to receive an additional $5.6 million in funding.

Junior faculty researchers supported by the grant include Richard McCann; Rina Plattner; Paul Murphy; Haining Zhu; Jason Carlyon; Paul Glaser; Young-In Chi; Lisa Tannock; Sarah D'Orazio; Chris Norris; Masahito Shimojo; Shuxia Wang; Chongsuk Ryou; Jun Liu; Luke Bradley; Hsin-Sheng Yang; Craig Vander Kooi; Matthew Gentry; Christian Paumi; Francesc Marti; Qingjun Wang; Jason Johnston; Emilia Galperin; Xiuwei Yang; Yvonne Fondufe-Mittendorf; Konstantin Korotkov; Natalia Korotkova; Donna Wilcock and Craig Horbinski. Fourteen of the 30 COBRE-supported research faculty are tenured faculty. They have received grants from the Alzheimer's Association, the American Heart Association, the National Science Foundation and others.

MEDIA CONTACT: Elizabeth Adams, elizabethadams@uky.edu