This application proposes the Phase II COBRE continuation of the Vermont Center for Immunology and Infectious Diseases (VCIID) at the University of Vermont (UVM). During the Phase I COBRE period we created a multidisciplinary group of scientists and clinicians undertaking collaborative research in microbial pathogenesis and the immune response to infections. The keystone of Phase I was to achieve scientific excellence while building a critical mass of investigators in a vibrant and rigorous atmosphere. A significant component of this was the mentoring of 5 original junior faculty, all of whom obtained extramural funding, had numerous publications and awards, and 4 of 5 have been promoted. We also recruited 5 additional junior faculty in the final two years of Phase I. Already 4 of these 5 new faculty have obtained some extramural funding. In addition, the VCIID-COBRE provided support for cores in Genome Technologies/Bioinformatics, Proteomics, a seminar series of outside experts, a weekly Research-in- Progress forum, retreats, pilot project funding, and workshops on scientific issues, grant writing, and career development. As a result of these programs the VCIID grew during Phase I from 9 founding faculty to 21 faculty in 8 departments in 4 colleges, with 213 publications (49 from junior faculty), $47,694,003 in funding, without the COBRE ($8,818,374 from junior faculty), and recognition by the UVM College of Medicine as one of the five Centers of Excellence. During Phase II we will continue several of the above successful programs but modify them toward directing the faculty toward becoming a highly interactive group in a mature Center with collaborative grants and sustainability. The new 5 junior faculty will continue their projects for 1-4 additional years. Two senior faculty we be recruited to fill gaps in our intellectual repertoire, one in mucosal immunology to enhance our new Vaccine Trials Center, and the second in chronic infection/inflammation-induced cancer to broaden our thinking to the implications of chronic infectious conditions. Cores will be continued in Genome Technologies/Bioinformatics and Proteomics, with the addition of a new BSL3 facility core to accommodate the growing needs of VCIID investigators desiring to study BSL3 agents. Also in this area, we will form a unique partnership among the VCIID, UVM, and the Vermont Department of Health in which the State will build a new Department of Health laboratory building on the UVM campus attached to our research building containing the BSL3 facility. This will provide space for an expanded joint BSL3 facility to include animal and select agent use. These endeavors will position us to be competitive for new POI and U19 category grants.
The VCIID has become one of five Centers of Excellence in the College of Medicine. It is a scientific and economic engine in Vermont, with 21 faculty examining the host response to viral, bacterial, and parasitic, infections, which cause significant morbidity and mortality throughout the world. The inflammatory processes during these infections are also relevant to autoimmunity and cancer. Our Vaccine Trials Center and partnership with the Vermont Department of Health provide a translational medicine and public health role.
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