This application proposes to continue the Rocky Mountain Regional Center of Excellence (RMRCE) for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases Research located in Region VIII. The RMRCE consists of a highly integrated consortium of universities and federal agencies with significant interactions with multiple commercial entities. The RMRCE has completed three years since funding, and for the renewal, plans to build upon the strengths, synergies, and newly developed expertise that have emerged from the past efforts of this program. The renewed research program will be centered around three integrated research focus (IRF) groups that target the thematic research efforts on 1) immunomodulation, adjuvants and vaccines;2) bacterial therapeutics;and 3) viral therapeutics. The research and product development efforts of the IRF groups will be facilitated by five scientific cores. Research efforts will be directed at a variety of NIH Category A-C pathogens and will exploit the extensive BSL3 facilities within the region so that studies will be performed almost entirely with virulent forms of the pathogens. Training objectives of the RMRCE will include a competitive career development program structured similar to the NIH K-awards and group training efforts for biosafety and product development. The progress of individual projects and cores, as well as the progress and synergy of the overall program will be continually monitored and managed via a robust evaluation process that encompasses input from NIH program personnel, RMRCE leadership from multiple institutions, and external reviewers. Adding to the flexibility of this program will be the continuation of a highly successful program for the funding of Developmental Research Projects. Overall the goals of the RMRCE are summarized as: 1) continue investigator-directed research programs that address basic and translational research for biodefense and emerging infectious diseases, including understudied Select Agents;2) provide career development and group training that exploits the strengths of the RMRCE;3) utilize well integrated scientific core facilities to accelerate research and product development activities;4) enable programmatic flexibility and responsiveness through a strong project evaluation process and continuation of a program for Developmental Research Projects;and 5) establish an emergency response program that is based on the resources of the RMRCE and that is managed by a single individual.
The RMRCE activities are directed towards fulfilling the RCE program mandate of establishing and maintaining a strong infrastructure, multifaceted basic and applied research programs, as well as translational and educational activities that will facilitate development of the next generation of therapeutics and vaccines against Category A-C and other emerging infectious disease pathogens.
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