Center for Molecular Analysis of Disease Pathways Receives Final Phase of NIH COBRE Grant

The Center for Molecular Analysis of Disease Pathways (CMADP) has been awarded its 3rd and final $5.7 million National Institutes of Health grant. Since 2012 the center has helped foster a multidisciplinary research environment at KU and the three phases of five-year multi-million dollar grants through the NIH’s Institutional Development Award (IDeA) Program have jump-stared the careers of junior faculty members and increased the university’s research capabilities. It receives this grant through its recognition as a Center of Biomedical Research Excellence or COBRE by the NIH.Since receiving the Phase 1 COBRE award 24 junior faculty researchers supported by CMADP have brought more than $40.5 million in external funding to the state of Kansas. 

“As a new assistant professor, there are multiple challenges that make getting a lab established and productive feel very overwhelming,” Jennifer Robinson, assistant professor of chemical & Petroleum engineering said, “Funding from the Phase 2 CMADP COBRE was instrumental in supporting this phase of my research- both by providing critical funds for personnel and lab expenses and also scientific feedback that helped clarify our research aims and approach.” As a result of this project funding, Robinson received a five-year $1.25 Million Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award from NIH to continue her work investigating the sex differences that attribute to the higher incidence of osteoarthritis in females. 

Jingxin Wang, assistant professor of medicinal chemistry and previous CMADP project investigator, recently received an NIH MIRA as well. Leveraging his CMADP project funding, he investigated a new direction for his research and is now part of a $1.2 million grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation to further explore the use of RNA splicing in drug and disease therapies.

“The generous support from Dr. Lunte, CMADP, and core labs finally helped to yield our recent publication in ACS Central Science on the development of a new chemical genetic tool to study signaling pathways as the cover story of the journal’s next issue,” Wang said. “This opens a new research direction that has much potential in biological research. The project is actually a research direction that I had considered ‘cutting off’ before receiving the CMADP’s support as it would require too many resources that we can’t afford with my startup funds. Now this research tool and its applications are becoming one of my major contributions to the field.”

With this final phase of the COBRE grant, CMADP plans to ensure each of their three core labs - The KU (Ralph N. Adams) Nanofabrication Facility, Synthetic Chemical Biology Core, and Genome Sequencing Core - labs remain self-sustaining through its user bases. Faculty selected for funding in this phase will no longer be limited to junior and early career professionals.