This proposal for Alaska INBRE-2 aims to strengthen and expand our Alaska network for biomedical research and training and to ensure that it is self-sustaining. INBRE-2 research builds on the advances made in INBRE-1 to fill out Alaska expertise in basic cell biology and in chemical and microbial disease agents from the environment, including emerging infectious zoonotic diseases like avian influenza and tularemia. These microbiology and toxicology themes interface with the strong ecology programs in Alaska. BRIN and INBRE hired 7 faculty who are well-started on their research and teaching careers and are already competing successfully for federal research grants. The bioinformatics/computational core and instrumentation support will continue to be assets for programs across the life sciences on all campuses of the University of Alaska (UA). Major INBRE-2 investments focus on 7 additional faculty, students, faculty setups, collaborative research partnerships (including joint appointments with state public health labs), administrative support for research, and educational outreach. Our INBRE faculty community includes those hired by INBRE-1, other affiliate UA faculty who are becoming collaborators in biomedical research, and new hires to fill in gaps in microbiology, toxicology, cell biology, and clinical-translational applications of research. One of the new scientists is an executive director for biomedical research for the Alaska university system. INBRE initiatives parallel UA's own and are tightly linked to mainline UA priorities and evolving governance. The Alaska INBRE network has two major nodes, at UAA (Anchorage) and UAF (Fairbanks). INBRE has partnerships with: the State Department of Public Health, other smaller college units, K-12 education, the health delivery community, and collaborators in the Northwest region. It supports graduate fellowships and undergraduate research awards and formalizes the process of making students aware of on-campus research opportunities. It continues to sponsor postdoctoral fellows and to encourage their integration into the UA's academic culture. It funds and facilitates a suite of programs for pre-college students, particularly those in rural villages where Alaska Natives are in majority. We assist, train, and counsel students to do research in high school, to learn modem biology in summer courses, to transition to college, to do research in college and to apply for post-graduate training. The educational pipeline that draws students from rural Alaska toward the university can become a two-way conduit that encourages these communities to better teach us what they know and what they need.
Alaska INBRE addresses global health priorities: emerging infectious agents, contaminant impacts on food quality and safety, recruitment of indigenous peoples into health careers, and integration of bench biomedical science with ecological perspectives. Alaska is a dump-site for atmospheric contaminants and the cross-over point for exchanges of emerging zoonotic agents between eastern and western hemispheres. By building biomedical capacity, we make Alaska competent to respond to new threats like avian influenza.
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