Keeping infectious and inflammatory diseases on the run
Biomedical research center at UND awarded $10.7 million renewal from NIH
Exactly how do microbes or viruses sustain themselves within host organisms? A federal grant will help scientists at the University of North Dakota keep answering that question in detail.
The UND Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (CoBRE) in Host-Pathogen interactions (HPI) has learned that it will keep getting National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding through the project’s Phase 2. The renewal amounts to more than $10.7 million to UND for the multi-year project.
The long-term goal of this CoBRE is to develop a deeper understanding of host responses to viral, bacterial, and parasitic insults leading to acute and chronic inflammatory diseases. The vision of the Center’s faculty is to continue to inspire interest in the study of host-microbe interaction and perform paradigm-shifting science that supports the notion that the interaction between a susceptible host, foreign insult, and conducive microenvironment governs disease development.
“In Phase 1, this Center made significant progress by expanding the number of investigators studying various aspects of infectious and inflammatory diseases, from the initial group of nine labs to 18 labs,” explained Colin Combs, chair of UND’s Department of Biomedical Sciences, praising the strong leadership of current biomedical sciences professor David Bradley and former faculty Jyotika Sharma and Brij Singh. “Since the funding of Phase 1 in 2016, this core group of CoBRE investigators, among others, made significant contributions to the field by producing 169 publications, $23.6 million in extramural funding, and 74 speaking engagements – local, national, and international.”
Now, with Phase 2, added Bradley, the Center will continue to “promote research on host-microbe interaction by building on the success of Phase 1 and a talented team from the Department of Biomedical Sciences.”
This team includes professors Catherine Brissette, Nadeem Khan, Bibhuti Mishra, and Masfique Mehedi. The Phase 2 CoBRE will include Mehedi and three additional junior investigators: Abraam Yakoub, Shahram Solaymani-Mohammadi, and Kumi Nagamoto-Combs.
These CoBRE investigators work in an integrative, collaborative, and multidisciplinary manner on research encompassing diverse aspects of host-pathogen interactions. Phase 2 projects, in particular, focus on COVID-19 infections, intestinal dysbiosis (reduction in microbial diversity) in food allergy, gastrointestinal infection and inflammation, and viral interaction within respiratory surface cells. The Center will also enhance the innovative research capabilities of the SMHS and UND by supporting three existing Phase 1 Core facilities (histology, flow cytometry, and imaging) and establishing a new Computational Data Analysis Core. The Center will also serve to attract new investigators to the group by supporting pilot grant mechanisms.
The project’s ultimate goal is to transition the HPI CoBRE to a sustainable academic center that will serve as a conduit for increased interaction between investigators from diverse backgrounds who’ll pursue research on various aspects of host-microbe interactions.
About the author
Brian James Schill is the assistant director of the Office of Alumni and Community Relations at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine & Health Sciences.