June 05--A statewide biomedical research initiative based at the University of Rhode Island has received another $18.8 million in federal funding to expand the program over the next five years.
The Rhode Island IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (RI-INBRE) was established to make the state's colleges and universities more competitive in biomedical science. The partnership began in 2001 with an $8-million grant from the National Institutes of Health.
The new NIH funding will enable the institutions to expand into the areas of cancer research, neuroscience and molecular toxicology.
The University of Rhode Island partners with Brown University, Rhode Island College, Providence College, Bryant University, Roger Williams University and Salve Regina University. The Community College of Rhode Island is an affiliate of the network and its students participate in research at URI.
The grant will finance 27 projects at the institutions, including using nanoparticles to deliver anti-cancer drugs to lung cancer patients, investigating the efficacy of using plant materials to combat stomach cancer and studying risk behaviors in teenagers.
"Through this important funding from the National Institute of Health, the University of Rhode Island will continue to strengthen the 'meds and eds' in our state," Governor Chafee said Wednesday. "I am pleased that the NIH continues to recognize the outstanding work of URI and I believe that we are well on our way to becoming a leader in the biomedical research field."
URI President David M. Dooley said, "This sustained commitment to collaboration among all the partners has resulted in $61 million in grants to build biomedical research activity and capacity across the state, and we are clearly seeing the success of their efforts."
He said the latest NIH grant will continue to stimulate growth within a sector of Rhode Island's economy that "holds tremendous potential for both scientific discoveries and job creation."
Since 2001, the partnership has financially supported and mentored more than 100 faculty members at the various colleges and universities.
In addition, the program has paid for a $4-million lab at URI's College of Pharmacy to enable the network of colleges and universities to carry out biomedical research. So far, researchers at the colleges have obtained an additional $47 million in independent grants to increase biomedical research.
Since the Rhode Island partnership was formed, a URI pharmacy professor has received $1.6 million from the NIH to study a new treatment for alcoholism, another URI professor was awarded $1.3 million to fight cancer with nanoparticles, and a third URI professor received $500,000 to research a rare form of anemia.
The hope is that Rhode Island will become a hub for biomedical research and treatment, URI said.
Zahir Shaikh, a professor of pharmacology and toxicology at URI's College of Pharmacy and the program's director, said, "Students from this program have gone on to obtain post-graduate degrees and many are employed at universities, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and engineering companies."
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