The University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) seeks to foster collaborative interdisciplinary research to enhance its biomedical research infrastructure in the molecular life sciences. Building on the success of two prior UNL Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBREs), it is proposed to establish the Nebraska Center for Integrated Biomolecular Communication (CIBC). The proper regulation of biomolecular communication pathways is critical to maintaining healthy function, yet there are many gaps in the fundamental understanding of those pathways. Unraveling those pathways and filling in critical knowledge gaps requires the combined expertise of collaborative, interdisciplinary research teams. CIBC's long-term goal is to foster the development of collaborative research teams with broad disciplinary representation to interrogate complex disease pathways, especially by connecting researchers who are developing new molecular probes and analytical techniques with those unravelling molecular mechanisms of complex diseases. CIBC's Specific Aims are to: 1) Support the research and career development of early stage investigators whose research is broadly focused on understanding the regulation of biomolecular communication pathways; 2) Leverage existing facilities and enhance research capabilities by establishing a Systems Biology Core and a Data Management and Analysis Core; and 3) Foster the development of integrated interdisciplinary research collaborations with diverse disciplinary representation to pursue high impact biomedical research. The initial cohort of project leaders - five early stage investigators from the Departments of Biochemistry, Chemistry, and Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering - are pursuing projects interrelated by their fundamental focus on different aspects of biomolecular communication within and between cells and tissues. These projects are directed toward identifying molecular metabolic signals of microbial syntrophy in the human gut, developing techniques for high-resolution protein glycoform analysis, unraveling ligand-Stabilin-2 interactions in liver disease progression, designing molecular probes for intracellular phosphorylation kinetics, and developing tissue engineering platforms specifically for liver. The breadth of science encompassed by these projects signifies the interdisciplinary nature of the Center's research goals. CIBC's proposed Systems Biology Core and Data Management and Analysis Core facilities leverage existing core facilities established under prior COBRE support. The proposed research cores, coupled with the interdisciplinary focus of the CIBC, will serve as a natural mixing chamber to foster the development of new collaborations among Nebraska's biomedical researchers to pursue high impact biomedical research. CIBC's innovation is in integrating the research activities of chemists, biochemists, engineers, and bioinformaticists. Its impact will be in addressing critical knowledge gaps in the understanding of how cells communicate and integrate metabolic and regulatory pathways relevant to disease development and progression.
Diseases result when the internal stability and normal communications between tissues and cellular pathways are disrupted by genetic defects, environmental disturbances, or pathogens. The Nebraska Center for Integrated Biomolecular Communication (CIBC) will serve as a natural mixing chamber to integrate the research activities of chemists, biochemists, engineers, and bioinformaticists to address critical knowledge gaps in our understanding of how cells communicate and integrate metabolic and regulatory pathways relevant to disease development and progression. CIBC investigators will bring together unique expertise in the understanding of complex diseases and in the development of novel methodologies and technologies to probe communication pathways within and between cells and tissues.
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