At UAMS, Smeltzer Gets $11M to Study Pathogens

At UAMS, Smeltzer Gets $11M to Study Pathogens

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences said Tuesday that Mark Smeltzer has been awarded $11 million in federal funding for Phase II of a program that supports microbiology and immunology research.

Phase I of the Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) grant was awarded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 2012 at $10 million. Phase II began May 1 and is $11 million.

The first COBRE grant allowed Smeltzer to establish the UAMS Center for Microbial Pathogenesis and Host Inflammatory Responses. Its focus is pathogens – bacteria, viruses and microorganisms – and the disease responses they cause in humans.

The latest award continues funding of the center, with individual projects on cancer, Lyme disease, pneumonic plague and chlamydial infection.

Smeltzer and Richard P. Morrison, chairman of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology in the UAMS College of Medicine, co-direct the center.

"Everything that we do, at the end of the day, it's really about human health," Smeltzer said in a news relesase. "We're trying to understand how microorganisms and pathogens cause disease in humans, and if you understand that, you’re that much closer to coming up with useful treatments."

COBRE grants are only available for Institutional Development Award (IDeA) states where NIH funding has been historically low. UAMS is host to two other centers funded by COBRE grants: the Center for Translational Neuroscience, and the Center for Studies of Host Response to Cancer Therapy.

UAMS has 2,870 students, 799 medical residents and five dental residents. It employs more than 10,000 people, including about 1,200 physicians.