RTRN PI/PD Meeting in Dallas a Success

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The annual PI/PD meeting in Dallas was focused on developing collaborative proposals. In a carefully designed workshop the RTRN provided a large number of funding opportunities from NIH and other agencies, from which groups or clusters could develop real collaborative proposals. Clusters met on the first day to discuss and initiate multi-institutional preliminary proposals that they presented publicly by the end of the day. This strategy helped to identify resources and participants from other clusters who could strengthen the preliminary proposals. By the end of the second day each research cluster had developed and honed 2-3 proposals that were presented publicly are ready for writing as full proposals. Hunter attendees all participated in this exciting workshop.

Dr. Robert Dottin developed with the Genes and Environmental Health/Toxicology Cluster, a proposal entitled, A Video Conferencing Platform for Environmental Health Education and Research in Vulnerable Minority and Underserved Populations. The Co PIs are Robert Dottin (Hunter Gene Center), Julianne Imperato-McGinley of WCMC and Barbara Hayes of Texas Southern University. The plan is to develop an education/ research agenda with specific communities and to conduct workshops including presentations, discussions and distribution of brochures. Researchers, experts and community members will share information and concerns. Topics could include Bisphenol A, a hardener in many household plastics; oil contamination of natural environment, and other topics of concern to the public and in the news, as recommended in the FOA. The proposal will also include a test of the efficacy of the platform for health education and research.

Dr. Michael Charles Drain collaborated with a team of scientists to address head and neck cancer that strikes African Americans at twice the rate of the general population, the 5-year survival rate which is almost half. Prof. Xinbin Gu (Howard University, College of Dentistry) is the PI of this collaborative group and is a recognized expert in head and neck cancers with several cell lines for initial evaluations. The overall goal is to build a multifunctional targeting- imaging-therapeutic system on a central nanoplatform studied by Prof. Josiah Ochieng (Meharry Medical College). Cancer cells differentially take up a serum glycoprotein called Fetuin-A, which is large enough to append several functional moieties. Prof. Charles Drain (Hunter College) has developed click chemistry to append a several porphyrinoids, such as glycoporphyrins, to a variety of nanoplatforms. These can have several functions: photodynamic therapeutic, radio imaging, fluorescence tags/imaging. Prof. Ruomei Gao (Jackson State University) is an expert in singlet oxygen measurements and will study the photophysics of dyes and the nanoconstructs designed by Drain. Prof. Alamgir Hossain (Jackson State University) has a series of macrocycles that bind both metal ions and other charged species that can be appended on the Fetuin-A. Prof. Renato J. Aguilera (University of Texas at El Paso) will test some of Drain’s compounds as a next-generation fluorescent dyes for high throughput screening of cancer cells, and the nanoconstructs for their photodynamic therapeutic effects.

Dr. Jeffrey Laurence participated in a working group on HIV/AIDS. One of the six topics proposed by that group involves exploration of immune activation and inflammation in the high incidence of cardiovascular disease which complicates HIV infection and its treatment. He is working as a consultant to the project, whose P.I. is Carmen Zorrilla, M.D., of Puerto Rico, and also involves scientists from three other RCMI centers. The title of the project is Influence of psychosocial factors on biomarkers for inflammation and cardiovascular disease among HIV+ minority populations.

Dean John Rose worked with the Community Based Participatory Research Cluster to develop a research proposal entitled A Holistic Approach to Partnering for Community Based Research. The Co-PI’s are John Rose (Hunter College), Loretta Jones (Charles Drew School of Medicine), Cesar Fermin (Tuskegee Medical School), Robert Mayberry (Moorehouse School of Medicine), and Eddy Rios-Olivares (Universidad Central Del Caribe). The objective of the proposed study is to build a model for effective and sustainable partnerships between community organizations and research institutions engaged in community based research and interventions. By cultural and linguistically sensitive and contextually appropriate approaches to assessing and evaluating community needs, priorities and resources from the “inside out”- - from the affected community’s perspective to the researchers- -deeper engagement and commitment can be achieved to drive delivery of information and communications essential to meaningful knowledge transfer.

Dr. Jesus Angulo developed with the Neurology and Mental Health Disorders Cluster a research proposal entitled Methamphetamine and Neuroglial NK-1 Receptors. The Co PIs are Jesus Angulo (Hunter Gene Center), Misty Eaton (Universidad Central del Caribe, Puerto Rico) and Karam Soliman (Florida A & M University). The objective of the proposed studies is to demonstrate that brain neurokinin-1 receptors (NK-1) on microglia and astrocytes activate the production of nitric oxide. The research in Dr. Angulo’s lab demonstrated that the neuropeptide substance P is released by methamphetamine and activates neuronal nitric oxide production and consequently oxidative stress. Microglia have been implicated in neurological disorders and substance P is an endogenous transmitter/modulator in the healthy brain.

Many of these collaborative multi-institutional proposals will be submitted for review in the near future. These activities highlight the importance of the RTRN in the national research agenda. They underscore the importance of collaborative research for successful funding.

Dr. Robert Dottin, Dr. Michael Charles Drain, Dr. Jeffrey Laurence, Dean John Rose, and Dr. Jesus Angulo contributed to this article.

From RTRN:

First RCMI Collaborative Research Workshop Generates Diverse Translational Research Initiatives

Scientists representing the 18 RCMIs identify new opportunities for cross-disciplinary research and funding, and give shape to the RCMI Translational Research Network (RTRN) Cluster System

Jackson, Miss. – More than 100 scientists from the 18 Research Centers in Minority Institutions (RCMI) met in Dallas, Texas, for the first RCMI Collaborative Research Workshop, hosted by the RCMI Translational Research Network (RTRN). The first-time two-day workshop, held in conjunction with the RCMI Program Directors’ meeting on April 26-27, 2010, provided an opportunity for RCMI researchers to come together to discuss shared research interests that could form the basis of collaborative research projects facilitated across the network...Read more from RTRN

Last Updated ( Friday, 21 May 2010 12:23 )