Department of pharmacology, regenerative medicine finds continued success in collaborative research funding

The UIC Department of Pharmacology and Regenerative Medicine in the College of Medicine first awarded a Program Project Grant from National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health in March 2000.

Since then, the department has been continuously home to two Program Project Grants. These multi-investigator current projects totaling over $22,000,000 center on “Macrophage Plasticity in Inflammatory Lung Injury” (program director Asrar B. Malik) and “The Lung Endothelium as an Instructive Niche for the Innate Immune System during vascular Injury” (program director Dolly Mehta). These current P01s, as well as additional long-term funding from NIH, DOD and NSF, contribute to the department’s status as one of the top-funded departments at UIC and pharmacology departments nationwide.

P01 awards are unique, as they “support broad multidisciplinary, long-term research programs involving groups of investigators working on research projects that contribute to the overall program objectives.” These grants have spurred numerous research collaborations both within the department and the university as a whole, as well as with other institutions, leading to transformative research projects and contributions.

In addition, seven multi-PI R01s and R33s were recently funded, indicating the intense level of collaborations within the Department.  A snapshot of these projects include “Programming of PMN host-defense function during transendothelial migration,” “Optogenetic control of tumor Initiation and tumor progression in vivo,” and “Mechanisms and treatment of SARS-CoV-2 induced lung endothelial injury.” In addition, multiple large research programs have recently been awarded to researchers in the department (including DOD Technology Award and NSF Career Awards).

These Program Project Grants have contributed to and indeed are the major drivers of the rich collaborative environment of the department. Under the leadership of Malik as department head, the department is home to a highly interactive and intellectually robust group of researchers.

This setting has been essential for the  success of new junior faculty members; four new faculty members have recently received independent R01 or R33 grants from NIH, demonstrating their strengths and the demanding nature of the intellectually rigorous environment. These investigators include Sandra Pinho (“Mechanisms of hematopoietic stem cell engraftment”), Kiwook Kim (“Role of membrane-associated macrophages in health and inflammation”), Dr. Soroush Tahmasebi (“Translational regulation of tissue resident macrophages by GCN2“) and Gary Mo (“Pyroptosis is a Trial-by-Fire Program”).

The department is also a recipient of a major Training Program supported by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the NIH. This NIH-sponsored institutional training program, currently in its 29th year, was borne out of our commitment to providing comprehensive training of the next generation of creative and meritorious lung researchers at the predoctoral and postdoctoral levels. The training program emphasizes the interdisciplinary nature of cutting-edge research in an environment that fosters independent and creative thinking. The primary objective of the program has been training future research leaders. The success of trainees, both in receipt of independent funding and career development reflects the success of the department’s collaborative training mechanisms.

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