UAMS Awarded $5.7M for Final Phase of Pathogen Research Program

UAMS Awarded $5.7M for Final Phase of Pathogen Research Program
UAMS microbiology and immunology professor Mark Smeltzer (UAMS)

UAMS has received a $5.7 million federal grant funding the third and final phase of an infectious disease research program.

The five-year Centers for Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) grant will go toward establishing a self-sustaining center broadly focused on the growing problems of infectious disease, UAMS said in a news release. The money brings total federal funding for the project to more than $26 million. 

The first phase of the project began in 2012 with a $10 million grant. The second phase kicked off in 2017 with another $11 million in federal funds.

The money, awarded through the National Institutes of Health, has allowed microbiology and immunology professor Mark Smeltzer to start the UAMS Center for Microbial Pathogenesis and Host Inflammatory Responses. The center focuses on bacteria, viruses and parasites and the impact of the host response that such pathogens elicit in humans.

“The goal is to understand the pathogen and the host response to a point that allows us to manipulate the interaction between the two in favor of the host and the desired therapeutic outcome,” Smeltzer said in the release.

Ten new investigators have been recruited to UAMS for the project, while seven researchers at the center have received their own NIH research grants. Recently, their work has supported statewide antibody testing and other research to fight COVID-19.

Smeltzer said the renewed COBRE funding allows UAMS researchers to increase their national and international visibility and reputation, “and lets us be a player in addressing what I see as the critical problem of infectious disease, which is not only a critical problem in itself but also has the potential to compromise every medical specialty including orthopaedic surgery.”

“Infectious disease problems will continue to arise that we don’t even know about right now,” Smeltzer said in the release, “which is why it’s important to have a Center of Biomedical Research Excellence for studying infectious disease.”

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