Cancer Center COBRE Project

The Center for Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) Phase III program entitled “Mentoring Translational Researchers in Louisiana” will expand the number of funded translational researchers in Louisiana. They will secure the continuity of biomedical research studying the biological determinants of chronic inflammation that promote diseases responsible for major health disparities in the Gulf South region. During Phase III we will continue to recruit and retain successful investigators by providing an integrated research support program, provide access to cutting-edge scientific cores, receive the support for developing and submitting grants, and maintain administrative support to ensure the long-term success of their research. This integrated support has allowed promising investigators and teams of researchers to explore novel concepts, make optimal use of scientific and clinical cores, participate in peer-review sessions that provide regular evaluations and critiques of their work, and develop, propose and obtain grants that have further consolidated this COBRE and its Cores into an essential program within the institution. This integrated “one-stop shop” approach has promoted the development of new research programs on viruses, inflammation and cancer; obesity as a pro-inflammatory condition that promotes disease; molecular mechanisms of inflammation in the tumor microenvironment; and others have resulted from the work done during Phase I and II. This COBRE has also facilitated translating research from the “bench to the bedside and back”. It also continues to be a catalyst for the formation of team- based research and the recruitment and retention of funded faculty.

Phase III will continue to focus on the unifying scientific theme of chronic inflammation as a precursor and promoter of disease. Chronic inflammation prevents or subverts the development of a protective immune response, resulting in damage to normal tissues that can range from apoptosis and death, to malignant transformation. Therefore, understanding the molecular and cellular mechanisms of chronic inflammation can elucidate a large number of disease processes and, in turn, lead to the development of novel diagnostic tools, and preventive or therapeutic strategies. The scientific leadership of the Phase III includes established, funded mentors and core directors with significant expertise in inflammation, genetics, viruses and cancer, obesity and health disparities. Expanding access to well-integrated resources through collaborative research with academic and research centers in the Gulf South region, supported in part by this Phase III COBRE, will help maintain, upgrade and expand our cutting-edge scientific cores, and increase the number of funded investigators that will guarantee the long-term success of this program. Furthermore, the Phase III of this COBRE with its scientific core facilities comes at an important time when the new University Medical Center Hospital and the Veterans Administration Hospital are opening across the street, with the mandate of developing cutting-edge treatments for the patients of this region.

We propose the following Specific Aims:

Specific Aim 1. Provide researchers with an integrated translational research program comprising a scientific design and development team of experienced mentors supported by cutting-edge scientific cores, and a strong grants development and administrative team. This integrated support center will provide researchers the tools to compete for independent extramural funding.

Specific Aim 2. Provide funding opportunities through a Pilot Projects Program to PJIs eager to develop independent research careers, or to teams of researchers developing highly innovative translational research. This approach will increase the critical mass of translational researchers in Louisiana that can address disease conditions that especially affect minority populations in our region.

Specific Aim 3. Complete the integration of the scientific Cores into the LSU Health Sciences Center, where the majority of clinicians and researchers working in Louisiana are trained, and provide healthcare to the large underserved minority population.