New Hampshire lung disease research center fundedOctober 13, 2003
Hanover, NH - A team of New Hampshire scientists has been awarded a five-year, $12 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to establish an interdisciplinary research center on lung diseases in New Hampshire. The grant will support research at Dartmouth Medical School, Dartmouth College and Keene State College, in collaboration with the state of New Hampshire's Department of Environmental Services and Department of Health and Human Services.
The funding program, known by the acronym COBRE (for Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence), was established by NIH to augment and strengthen the biomedical research capabilities of small or rural states and to enhance the scientific expertise of junior faculty in those regions.
"The COBRE grant to further research into mechanisms of lung disease is a tribute to the investigators in the program, and an exemplar of the kinds of research in which Dartmouth excels," said Dartmouth Medical School Dean Stephen P. Spielberg, MD, Ph.D. "It enables investigators across disciplines, including basic, translational and clinical scientists, to collaborate with a goal of bringing advances in scientific understanding of disease mechanisms and treatments to patients in need. This grant will have a major impact for faculty development, research, education of young scientists, and clinical application of new knowledge to patients."
Some of the studies will focus specifically on New Hampshire. Projects will investigate a number of lung diseases including lung cancer and cystic fibrosis, an inherited, life-threatening disorder that causes severe lung damage and nutritional deficiencies. In addition the grant will provide a stimulus to the local economy, through the creation of new jobs.
New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg stated, "Once again, Dartmouth Medical School has been recognized as a national leader in the field of medical research and is being counted on to address diseases that affect thousands of families every year. The work being done at Dartmouth Medical School, and future breakthroughs that may be attributed to this award, will continue to treat and heal patients giving them a new lease on life."
"The funding will create the infrastructure to enable Dartmouth and Keene State investigators to conduct state-of-the art research on lung diseases," said Bruce Stanton, Ph.D., Dartmouth Medical School professor of physiology, who heads the program. "This is an opportunity to better understand not only how these diseases are caused, but to translate those insights to new therapeutics. "
The program includes five multidisciplinary research projects that fall under the umbrella of "cellular and molecular mechanisms of lung disease." Three projects that focus on cystic fibrosis will investigate the biology of the cells affected by the disease, the structure of the molecules involved and the infections that are common in people who have cystic fibrosis, one of the most prevalent genetic diseases in the United States; one in 25 individuals is a carrier for the disease. Two other projects will study the environmental factors that contribute to lung diseases including lung cancer, which accounts for over 30 percent of all cancer deaths in New Hampshire. Investigators on those two projects will work with state agencies to examine the effects of agents such as arsenic, radon, nickel and diesel exhaust. Funds will also support the recruitment of faculty, and the development of a new, state-of-the-art technical facility in proteomics -- the study of proteins -- that will enable scientists to study the location, structure and function of the proteins involved in these lung diseases.
COBRE supports faculty mentoring by pairing junior level faculty with senior colleagues, establishing training for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, and developing closer research ties among the collaborating groups in New Hampshire. Senior Dartmouth faculty will serve as investigators, leaders and mentors on the program, and Dartmouth and Keene junior faculty will head the individual research projects. Program co-directors are Joshua Hamilton, Ph.D. professor of pharmacology and toxicology, and James Leiter, Ph.D., professor of physiology, both from Dartmouth Medical School.
Investigators and projects are:
- George O'Toole, Ph.D., (Dartmouth Medical School) who will study how bacteria infect the lungs of patients with cystic fibrosis
- Agnieszka Swiatecka-Urban, M.D. (Dartmouth Medical School and Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center) who will study how mutations in CFTR, the gene that is altered in patients with cystic fibrosis, cause the disease
- Dean Madden, Ph.D., (Dartmouth Medical School) who will do a structural analysis of proteins that modulate the function of the CFTR protein
- Melinda Treadwell , Ph.D. (Keene State College) who will investigate the effects of air pollution in New Hampshire on lung disease, including cancer
- Eric Duell, Ph.D., (Dartmouth Medical School) and Xun Shi, Ph.D., (Dartmouth College) who will conduct an environmental epidemiology study of lung cancer in New Hampshire.-end-
The Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth
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