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February 13, 2018

Faculty projects funded through 2018 Multi-PI Awards

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Two School of Medicine faculty projects were recently funded as AMC21 2018 Multi-PI awardees. The purpose of these grants is to enable School of Medicine faculty members to organize and integrate multidisciplinary teams of accomplished investigators who will compete successfully for long-term support from funding agencies.

The projects, chosen based on scientific merit, were eligible for up to $150,000 per year for a project period of up to two years, pending appropriate progress and achieving benchmarks.

The awardees are: 

cynthia brown expert 2017Cynthia Brown, M.D., MSPH, professor and division director of Gerontology, Geriatrics and Palliative Care in the Department of Medicine, and her team, received this award for the grant, “Prevention of and Recovery from Hospital-Associated Disability.” In this project, a number of UAB researchers who study aging and aging problems have joined forces to develop interventions to reduce hospital associated disability. Often when older patients are discharged from the hospital, they go home weaker and having more difficulty performing their activities of daily living. This grant will position UAB researchers to find solutions to this common problem.

troy randall webTroy Randall, Ph.D., the J. Claude Bennett Professor of Medicine in the Division of Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology in the Department of Medicine, and his team, received this award for the grant, “Modulation of Anti-Tumor Immunity via MNK1/2 Inhibition.” In this project, Randall’s team is following triple-negative breast cancer patients being treated with a new drug, eFT508, in combination with an existing immunotherapy drug (anti-PD-1).  They hope the combination of eFT508 and anti-PD-1 will impair the growth of tumor cells, and also stimulate the immune system to recognize and eliminate any remaining tumor cells.  This process has not yet been tested in humans; therefore, Randall and his team will collect samples from treated patients and assess how well the immune response worked.  In the results, they expect to discover what drug combinations work well together and which combinations are not as effective. The ultimate goal is to continue to improve the lives and outcomes of breast cancer patients.

Scientific enterprise at UAB

“We believe these grants will help make changes in the scientific enterprise at UAB,” said Etty “Tika” Benveniste, Ph.D., senior associate dean for Research Administration in the School of Medicine and associate vice president for Medicine and Basic Sciences. “Both teams of awardees will be poised to be competitive for substantial external grant awards upon completion of their studies.”

Overall, 24 letters of intent were submitted, which was narrowed down to 10 finalists and two winners.

The AMC21 is UAB Medicine's strategic plan to become the preferred academic medical center of the 21st century. The two projects will aid in developing advancements in scientific discovery and biomedical research at UAB.

“These multi-investigator grants have supported our faculty to strengthen collaborative interactions and have had a significant return on investment in terms of large, new extramural grants as well as high-impact publications,” said Anupam Agarwal, M.D., executive vice dean.