Transformational Research Funding Projects

(May 2016) At his first State of the School address in January University of Colorado School of Medicine Dean John J. Reilly, Jr., MD, named five recipients of Transformational Research Funding awards.

In fall 2015, Reilly announced a competitive process for applicants to seek funding for proposals that would position the University of Colorado School of Medicine as a leader in cutting-edge and emerging fields, attract extramural funding, help recruit and retain outstanding faculty, enhance education and training, and positively impact human lives and society in Colorado, the nation and the world.

The proposals were selected by an external review committee.

The five selected proposals are:

Patient-Integrated Value and Organizational Transformation and Data Sciences for Health (PIVOT|DaSH), which aims to build infrastructure, develop methods and establish implementation pathways to prepare for population health.

The team leaders are Jean Kutner, MD, MPH, professor of medicine, chief medical officer for University of Colorado Hospital and associate dean for clinical affairs for the School of Medicine; Michael Ho, director of the Denver VA Center of Innovation; Lisa Schilling, MD, MSPH, professor of medicine and medical director of the Office of Value Based Performance; and Michael Kahn, MD, professor of pediatrics, director of informatics, Children’s Hospital Colorado, and interim director of Health Data Compass.

The GI and Liver Innate Immune Program, which aims to diagnose, treat and understand gastrointestinal and liver disease in children and adults.

The team leaders are Sean Colgan, PhD, professor of medicine and immunology; Ron Sokol, MD, professor of pediatrics, chief of gastroenterology, hepatology and nutrition and director of the Colorado Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute; and Hugo Rosen, professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

The Human Immology and Immunotherapy Initiative, which will build on existing strengths in immunology to capture the next wave of development in the field, treating and, in many cases curing, diseases by interventions that target immunological functions.

The team leaders are John Cambier, PhD, chairman of immunology and microbiology; Andrew Fontenot, MD, professor of medicine and head of the Division of Allergy and Clinical Immunology; and Dan Theodorescu, MD, PhD, professor of surgery and pharmacology and director of the University of Colorado Cancer Center.

The RNA Bioscience Initiative, which will focus on developments in understanding of RNA biology, including its biogenesis and structure, the identification of functions for various classes of RNAs, establishing the role of RNA in disease and exploring RNA-based and RNA-targeted therapies.

The team leaders are David Bentley, PhD, professor of biochemistry and molecular genetics; Richard Davis, PhD, professor of biochemistry and molecular genetics; Jay Hesselberth, PhD, assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular genetics; Eric Poeschla, MD, professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases; Linda van Dyk, PhD, associate professor and vice chair of immunology and microbiology; and Craig Jordan, PhD, professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Hematology.

The Consortium for Fibrosis Research and Translation, which will impact human health through discoveries of fundamental mechanisms of fibrosis, and using this knowledge as a platform for developing transformative therapies to treat fibrotic disease, covering multiple organs. The center will also address organ regeneration, inflammation and epigenetics.

The team leaders are Timothy McKinsey, PhD, associate professor of medicine and associate division head for translational research in the Division of Cardiology; and Mary Weiser-Evans, PhD, professor of medicine.

The School is supporting proposals, each with a five-year budget totaling between $10 million and $20 million. Funding for the proposals comes from clinical earnings of the faculty, from annual financial support from the University of Colorado Health and philanthropy, including a commitment of $15 million by The Anschutz Foundation. No state-appropriated funding or student tuition or fees are being used for the Transformational Research Funding awards.

In announcing the selections during the State of the School address, Reilly said the choices were the most highly rated by the external reviewers and meet several goals.

“We wanted to try to fund the most highly rated programs from our study section and do a variety of other goals, including cross-disciplinary collaboration, involvement of partners from other institutions, include a variety of topics where we can have high impact, a spectrum of age of the patients affected by this type of research.

“There are lot of worthy projects that we did not have the resources to fund. I think my job is to go out and try to identify the resources to capitalize on those other opportunities. That said, I’m very proud of these projects. I think they encompass a broad swath of areas. It incorporates a lot of our existing faculty. It’s going to provide the opportunity to build our research capabilities and attract a lot of new faculty to this campus.”

See additional detail about the selected proposals →

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