LSU Vet School receives $9.9 million for infectious disease research

August 03, 2004

The LSU School of Veterinary Medicine has received a $9.9 million grant to fund the creation of the Center for Experimental Infectious Disease Research.

"What makes this grant so important is that it brings national recognition to LSU and allows us to expand our research program in infectious disease as it relates to human health and comparative medicine," said Thomas Klei, associate dean for research and advanced studies at the School of Veterinary Medicine. "This is the largest grant the school has ever received, and it's the only grant like this currently at LSU."

The grant is from the National Center for Research Resources, a division of the National Institutes of Health, and it is part of the Center of Biomedical Research Excellence, or COBRE, program. COBRE aims to "build research infrastructure to enhance an institution's research capacity and competitiveness for NIH grants." The grant will last for five years and it can be competitively renewed for five or more years.

"This center constitutes a strategic alliance between the School of Veterinary Medicine, the LSU College of Basic Sciences, and the Tulane National Primate Research Center," said Konstantin G. Kousoulas, who will be the administrator of the COBRE program at the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine.

The COBRE grant provides funding and research capabilities that will give assistant and associate professors the opportunity to establish research programs that will effectively compete for independent funding by NIH. Once a faculty member receives his or her own NIH funding for a particular research program, he or she will be rotated out of COBRE and replaced by other eligible faculty.

At present, a total of five assistant professors have research projects in the grant, representing the Department of Pathobiological Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine; the Department of Biological Sciences, College of Basic Sciences; and the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Tulane National Primate Research Center, or TNPRC. A number of other faculty and staff will participate in research cores in the school and the TNPRC.

The five initial research projects are: "New measles vaccine strategy using VSV vectors," Cristian Apetrei, Ph.D., Tulane National Primate Research Center; "Early RSV exposure leads to adult airways disease," Stephania A. Cormier, Ph.D., Department of Biological Sciences, LSU College of Basic Sciences; "Host response in HIV-1 and microsporidia co-infection," Hollie Hale-Donze, Ph.D., Department of Biological Sciences, LSU College of Basic Sciences; "Monocyte infection in SIV neuropathogenesis," Marlene Orandle, DVM, Ph.D., Department of Pathobiological Sciences, LSU School of Veterinary Medicine; and "Contribution of TNF and MCP-1 to retrovirus-induced neurological disease," Karin E. Peterson, Ph.D., Department of Pathobiological Sciences, LSU School of Veterinary Medicine.

"This new center will give faculty the tools they need to significantly increase their research productivity toward addressing the intricacies of some of the world's most deadly diseases," said Kevin Smith, vice chancellor for research and graduate studies. "This is one of the best mechanisms that will facilitate access to new research funding and ensure the success of LSU's National Flagship Agenda."

The COBRE program will be administered by the Division of Biotechnology and Molecular Medicine, or BIOMMED, in the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine. Kousoulas, director of BIOMMED and a professor of veterinary virology at the School of Veterinary Medicine, serves as the principal investigator of the center. He will work closely with Dr. Andrew Lackner, director of the Tulane National Primate Research Center in administering the Center.

Participants in the COBRE program will have access to specialized facilities at both TNPRC and BIOMMED, Kousoulas explained.

An external advisory committee will visit LSU and the TNPRC twice a year to review all aspects of the COBRE program.

"The ultimate goal is to have a center for comparative medicine, and this grant is the first step toward that goal," said Kousoulas.
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Louisiana State University

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