March 09, 2016
In this issue of Study Break, I’d like to spotlight a new center, the Pulmonary Center of Excellence. The mission of this interdisciplinary UTHealth center is to promote the development of novel therapies for the treatment of lung disease.
Established in 2015 under the direction of Dr. Michael Blackburn (Executive VP and Chief Academic Officer at UTHealth and Dean of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences), the center has established a Discovery Award Program to promote research focused on the fight against lung disease. The center recently awarded five $300,000 grants to McGovern Medical School researchers.
The awardees are:
Dr. Brian Davis, director of the IMM’s Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine and C. Harold and Lorine G. Wallace Distinguished University Chair; with co-PI Dr. Wa Xian, assistant professor in the IMM’s Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine and CPRIT Scholar in Cancer Research; and co-investigator Dr. Ricardo Mosquera, associate professor of pediatrics, for “Development of Patient-Specific Therapeutic Approaches for Cystic Fibrosis;”
Dr. Harry Karmouty-Quintana, assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, with co-investigators Dr. Bindu Akkanti, assistant professor of internal medicine; Dr. Leng Han, assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology; and Dr. Keith Adam Youker, Houston Methodist Hospital Research Institute, for “CFIm25 Links Alternative Polyadenylation with Pulmonary Hypertension and Right Ventricle Hypertrophy;”
Dr. Ann-Bin Shyu, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology and Jesse Jones Chair; with co investigators Dr. Jeffrey Chang, assistant professor of integrative biology and pharmacology; Dr. Chyi-Ying Chen, associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology; and Dr. Amber Luong, associate professor of otorhinolaryngology, for “MicroRNA and mRNA Epigenetics as Post-transcriptional Regulators of Allergic Airway Inflammation;”
Dr. Rick Wetsel, William S. Kilroy, Sr., Chair in Pulmonary Disease and professor and director of the IMM’s Hans J. Muller-Eberhard and Irma Gigli Research Center for Immunology and Autoimmune Diseases; with co-investigators Dr. Matthew Harting, assistant professor of pediatric surgery; Dr. Brian Davis, director of the IMM’s Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine and C. Harold and Lorine G. Wallace Distinguished University Chair; and Dr. Dachun Wang, assistant professor of molecular medicine at the IMM, for “Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Lung Progenitor Cells as Therapy for Lung Injury and Surfactant Protein Disorders;” and
Dr. Yang Xia, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, with co-investigators Dr. Harinder Juneja, professor of internal medicine; Dr. Aravind Yadav, assistant professor of pediatrics; and Dr. Harry Karmouty-Quintana, assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology for “Metabolomic Profiling Reveals New Insight, Sensitive Biomarkers and Innovative Approaches for Pulmonary Hypertension.”
All of these projects involve both basic science and physician scientists, working together in an interdisciplinary manner. These awards are provided to help the research teams generate findings that will lead to a high level of extramural grant submissions and publications. Another unique feature of these awards is that each one has been funded by donors – both individuals and foundations.
I hope this center will become a model of research centers to be developed at UTHealth. The collaboration across specialties, departments, schools, and teams is critical to unlocking scientific puzzles that will result in improved treatment and care.