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LSUHSC awarded $12 million for cancer, infectious diseases research & research pipeline

New Orleans, LA LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans has been awarded $12 million over five years by the National Institutes of Health to conduct research on diseases like prostate and stomach cancers, lymphoma and leukemia, dengue fever, tuberculosis, and herpes infections, as well as to support the development of academic research scientists. The grant is a second round of funding for a $10.6 million Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) grant awarded to Dr. Augusto Ochoa, Professor and Director of the Stanley S. Scott Cancer Center at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans in 2005.

"This new funding will support LSUHSC research in the new Louisiana Cancer Research Center under construction on our campus," notes Dr. Larry Hollier, Chancellor of LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans. "This type of grant is doubly valuable because it provides comprehensive support to the research pipeline. It will fund not only research that advances treatment, prevention, or cure, but will also help develop the next generation of competitively funded faculty research scientists."

Research projects of junior faculty paired with senior, established faculty mentors supported under the new grant include:

  • Prostate cancer a project that addresses the manner in which infections of the prostate stimulate the production of Prosaposin, a new molecule found to promote the growth of prostate cancer. Understanding these mechanisms could help develop new treatments for preventing or even inhibiting the continued growth of prostate cancer cells.
  • Gastric Cancer a project that will determine the genetic traits that characterize the individuals who develop a severe form of gastritis from H. pylori infection that can lead to gastric, or stomach, cancer.
  • Leukemia a project that is developing a new treatment to stop the growth of T cell leukemias and induce the death of malignant cells.
  • Dengue Virus Infections a project focused on either preventing infection altogether or the development of the severe and often fatal form of the disease.
  • Tuberculosis a project determining where changing the ability of immune system cells to produce substances like nitric oxide or arginase will stop the development of the disease as well as its spread by killing the tuberculosis bacteria.
Other research includes working on novel therapies for B cell lymphomas through increased understanding of the components of the environment that facilitates their growth as well as preventing the herpes virus from blocking the body's immune response which would otherwise kill the virus. "In addition to the value of research programs like this in terms of lives and money saved as well as improved quality of life, the LSUHSC research enterprise is a robust economic engine, attracting millions of outside dollars to the city and state that also support jobs in a highly desirable industry," said Dr. Steve Nelson, Dean of LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans' School of Medicine.

Research provides high-skill, high-wage jobs and has been considered one of the most powerful drivers of the economic prosperity of communities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 17 of the 30 fastest growing occupations in the US are related to medical research or health care. According to BIO, in Louisiana 1 life sciences job equals 5.19 jobs produced indirectly within the local economy.

"LSUHSC faculty leveraged our initial COBRE grant to secure $54 million in external funding, create 66 new jobs, including 25 faculty and 30 laboratory staff positions, publish 153 research papers in the scientific literature, and obtain a two-year American Recovery and Reinvestment Act award for $687,752 to support research on new immunotherapies for cancer patients," says Dr. Augusto Ochoa, Professor and Director of the LSUHC Stanley S. Scott Cancer Center who is also the principal investigator on the grant.

National Center for Research Resources (NCRR) Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) support thematic multidisciplinary centers that augment and strengthen institutional biomedical research capacity by expanding and developing biomedical faculty research capability and enhancing research infrastructure, including the establishment of core facilities needed to carry out the objectives of a multidisciplinary, collaborative program.

COBREs are expected to grow through the promotion of collaborative interactive efforts among researchers with complementary backgrounds, skills, and expertise; and to compete independently for external peer-reviewed center or program project grant support. In some instances, COBRE support will facilitate the development of new disease-specific research centers or augment the capability of existing centers. COBRE is a part of the Institutional Development Award program.

"The LSU COBRE has established a successful mentoring and faculty development program and this award will ensure that young investigators throughout Louisiana continue to have opportunities to become future leaders in biomedical research, said NCRR Director Barbara Alving, M.D."


Contact: Leslie Capo
Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center

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