With funding from the NIH IDeA COBRE program, the Center for Evolutionary and Theoretical Immunology (CETI) was launched in 2003. CETI's thematic focus area, in evolutionary-comparative and theoretical immunology, stems from a unique confluence of faculty with shared interests in the Departments of Biology and Computer Science at UNM and at the Los Alamos National Laboratories. With COBRE support, CETI has hired six tenure-track faculty and has leveraged 16,000 SF of new building space in the Biology building to accommodate our program. CETI investigators have now published 576 scientific papers and successfully competed for $39.9 million in research funds. In addition, one of CETI's key goals is to improve and maintain scientific infrastructure to enable our scientists to be even more competitive in securing extramural support. Towards that end, along with our supportive Administrative Core, we have established three extensively-used scientific Cores: a Molecular Biology Core and a Controlled Environments Core, both established in Phase I of our funding, and a Cell Biology Core established in Phase II. Our goals for Phase III are to further improve and expand our three scientific Cores through purchase of additional equipment and hiring of technical support. We also propose to further increase our user base by continuing our popular Pilot Project and Waiver programs. To go along with these programs, we offer all participants extensive mentoring to increase their likelihood of securing their own extramural funding and increasing their prospects for long term success in academia. Another important goal of Phase III is to transition each of our Cores to a cost neutral status, thus reducing our dependence on COBRE support. Consequently, we will phase in business models that will help us achieve this goal by the end of Phase III. Finally, to aid in transition from COBRE support, we have secured a pledge of $887,500 in support from UNM's administration to be applied post-Phase III (in years 16 through 20 of CETI's existence) to help us sustain CETI's independence. By building a critical mass of investigators able to compete for both individual and multi-PI grants, we are confident that CETI will achieve the goals of the IDeA program in promoting increased research competitiveness and scientific infrastructure development in the state of New Mexico.
The NIH COBRE Center for Evolutionary and Theoretical Immunology (CETI) has provided the means for the State of New Mexico to acquire a critical mass of talented scientific investigators, well supported by an administrative Core and three state-of-the-art scientific Cores. CETI will continue to help increase the number of funded investigators in our state, thereby helping to achieve one of the IDeA program's central goals, to improve the scientific competitiveness and increase the economic growth of traditionally low income states.