Integrated Research 2012 recipients announced

Thursday, February 23, 2012

After considering more than 50 proposals submitted to the new Department of Medicine Integrated Research RFA initiative, the Chair's Office has awarded funding to eight projects.

The awards, which total $250,000, range from $30,000 to $40,000 to support laboratory investigation and translational or clinical research, and are for one year of funding. Applicants were required to propose research that would involve cross-department and division collaboration.

"Collaborative research projects will be increasingly important to our research portfolio," said Mary Klotman, MD, chair of the department. "The Department of Medicine has a deep reservoir of research talent and experience, and I'm eager to support our faculty in more cross-disciplinary research."

The Integrated Research RFA was a response to faculty requests, shared at the 2011 Medicine Research Retreat, for additional research support.

"The department is committed to shepherding our resources in ways that support our faculty and invest in the future of our research endeavor," said Monica Kraft, MD, vice chair for research. "We were very happy to see so much interest in this RFA – the number of applications shows our faculty investigators are actively building partnerships within the department and across the Duke University Medical Center."

Dr. Klotman and Dr. Kraft convened the 2012 Medicine Research Retreat Feb. 1 to explore additional ways the department can facilitate and incubate research that can lead to multi-investigator research projects.

Read abstracts of the winning proposals

[tabs style="vertical" title="Recipients of DOM Integrated Research funding"]
[tab title="Probing Novel Mechanisms for FGF14 in Basal Ganglia Disorders"]Probing Novel Mechanism for FGF14 in Basal Ganglia Disorders
Nicole Calakos, MD, PhD and Geoffrey Pitt, MD,PhD.

Principle Investigators Nicole Calakos, MD, PhD, assistant professor of medicine (Neurology) and Geoffrey Pitt, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine (Cardiology), will investigate the role of the fibroblast growth factor 14 gene (FGF14), a gene that modulates ion channels in the brain.

Calakos and Pitt aim to investigate the functional role of mutant FGF14 in striatal projection neuron (SPN) neurotransmission. Calakos is a neurologist who studies the basal ganglia and movement disorders, while Pitt, a cardiologist, is an expert in ion channels.  The investigators say their work has broad translational implications for drug addiction, ataxia, and Parkinson’s.[/tab]

[tab title="Genetics of Bronchiolitis Obliterans Syndrome"]Genetics of Bronchiolitis Obliterans Syndrome
Scott Palmer, MD and David Goldstein, PhD

Post-transplant bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome (BOS) significantly limits long-term survival rates after lung transplantation. Principle investigator Scott Palmer, MD, associate professor of medicine (Pulmonary, Allergy & Critical Care Medicine), will lead a case control study that aims to identify the genetic variants that regulate BOS in patents with early onset BOS and those who survived more than five years after lung transplant BOS-free.

Palmer will work with David Goldstein, PhD, professor of molecular genetics and microbiology and director of the Duke Center for Human Genome Variation, as well as Kevin Shianna, PhD,  and Dongliang Ge, PhD, both assistant professors in the Institute for Genome Sciences and Public Policy.

Eventually, the data gathered from these two extreme phenotypes and the study’s approach could be extended to a multicenter cohort of 2,000 lung transplants.[/tab]

[tab title="Regulation of Inflammation and Vascular Permeability in Intracerebral Hemorrhage"]Regulation of Inflammation and Vascular Permeability in Intracerebral Hemorrhage
Christopher Kontos, MD, Nicholas Katsanis, PhD,  and Luke James, MD

Intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) causes 15% of strokes, but only 20% of patients with ICH are functionally independent six months after the event. Currently, supportive care is the primary treatment for ICH, but new evidence finds that inflammation and vascular permeability contribute to neurological dysfunction after ICH.

Christopher Kontos, MD, associate professor of medicine (Cardiology), Nicholas Katsanis, PhD, professor of cell biology, and Michael "Luke" James, MD, assistant professor of anesthesiology and medicine (Neurology), will examine the endothelial receptor tyrosine kinase Tie1 in inflammation and permeability after ICH.[/tab]

[tab title="Canonical Transient Receptor Potential"]Canonical Transient Receptor Potential
Paul Rosenberg, MD and Robert Spurney, MD

Paul Rosenberg, MD, assistant professor of medicine (Cardiology) and Robert Spurney, MD, professor of medicine (Nephrology) will seek to further understand TRPC (canonical transient receptor potential) signaling events and the consequences of TRPC activation in specific types of cells.

They  hope to show that TRPC signaling creates a multiprotein complex used in connections between the plasma membrane and the cytoskeleton.[/tab]

[tab title="Transformative Multi-Modal Single Cell Immune Profiling"]Transformative Multi-Modal Single Cell Immune Profiling
David Murdoch, MD, Gabriel Lopez , PhD, and Joe Trask, MD

Technology that will provide genetic and cellular information from single cells in small tissue samples is the focus of, “Transformative multi-modal single cell immune profiling in human diseases and drug discovery through integration of lab on chip and microfluidic techniques,” a project headed by David Murdoch, MD, assistant professor of medicine (Pulmonary, Allergy & Critical Care Medicine).

Murdoch will be joined by Gabriel Lopez, professor of biomedical engineering, and Joe Trask, head of the Cellular Imaging Core at the Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences. They will collaborate on a technology that combines patch clamp and microfluidic techniques to create a novel platform for multi-modal single cell immune assays.

This technology could make immune profiling information more rapidly available, without having to use large tissue samples, which can be tedious and inefficient.[/tab]

[tab title="Fungi as Modulators of the Allergic Inflammation"]Fungi as Modulators of the Allergic Inflammation
Monica Kraft , MD and Joseph Heitman, MD, PhD

Monica Kraft, MD, professor of medicine (Pulmonary, Allergy & Critical Care Medicine) and director of the Duke Asthma, Allergy and Airway Center, and Joe Heitman, MD, PhD, James B. Duke Professor and Chair of the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology and director of the Center for Microbial Pathogenesis, aim to understand how fungi M. restricta and M. globosa act as endogenous triggers in asthma.

The study will incorporate both animal and human models. Though dander, pollen, and other inhaled antigens have long known to trigger asthmas, Kraft and Heitman found in their preliminary research that M. restricta and M. globosa – commonly associated with atopic dermatitis – live in the lungs of asthma patients. This research could lead to novel treatment approaches and a new understanding of asthma antigens.[/tab]

[tab title="Metabolic Profiles Associated with Cardiovascular Complications of Diabetes"]Metabolic Profiles Associated with Cardiovascular Complications of Diabetes
Susan Gurley, MD, Svati Shah, MD, MHS, and Christopher Newgard, PhD.

A novel mouse model that replicates diabetic kidney disease and hypertension will be used in “Metabolic Profiles Associated with Cardiovascular Complications of Diabetes.” This work grew out of Susan Gurley’s, MD, collaboration with the NIH’s Animal Models of Diabetic Complications Consortium.

Gurley is an assistant professor of medicine in the division in nephrology; her lab has observed that the extent of kidney disease is largely determined by the mouse’s genetic background, and they hope to identify background genes that lead to diabetic nephropathy.

Gurley will work with Svati Shah, MD, MHS, an assistant professor in the division of cardiology and joint faculty at the Center for Human Genetics.

Christopher Newgard, PhD, professor of pharmacology and cancer biology and the director of the Stedman Nutrition and Metabolism Center, will be performing the metabolic profiling of the mice.[/tab]

[tab title="Aim to pilot a zebrafish model of cryptococcal infection to evaluate pathogenicity and innate immune response"]Aim to pilot a zebrafish model of cryptococcal infection to evaluate pathogenicity and innate immune response
John Perfect, MD and David Tobin, PhD

John Perfect, MD, professor of medicine and interim chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases, will collaborate with David Tobin, PhD, assistant professor of molecular genetics and microbiology, on a project that uses zebra fish to investigate the fungal pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans, which causes cryptococcosis in immune-compromised populations.

Mice and rabbits are limited hosts for cryptococcosis infections, but zebra fish have conserved immune systems and interactions that are helpful to researchers. Because zebra fish are transparent, Perfect and Tobin believe a real-time host immune response to Cryptococcus neoformans will prove invaluable for understanding the mechanisms behind this fungal infection.[/tab] [/tabs]