The goal of this Phase-1 COBRE program is to develop and enhance the research infrastructure, mentoring, and collaborative environment to support five Junior Investigators in the multi-disciplinary fields of microbial pathogenesis and immunity. To achieve this goal, The Oklahoma Center for Microbial Pathogenesis and Immunity (OCMP&I) COBRE will be established and fostered as a center of excellence focused on advancing the careers of Junior Investigators studying life-threatening infectious microbes and the ways in which the immune system responds to infection. The OCMP&I COBRE will be centrally located at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, the flagship academic institution for biomedical research in Oklahoma. The OCMP&I COBRE will initially include 17 scientists engaged in microbial pathogenesis and immunity research at research-intensive institutions in Oklahoma and this network will be expanded during the Phase-1 period as the center takes form and grows. Among these 17 scientists are five outstanding and promising Junior Investigators who study fungal pathogenesis, inflammation, regulation of biofilms, and necrotizing enterocolitis. The OCMP&I and its consortium of successful senior researcher scientists will provide the intellectual input and expertise to mentor each Junior Investigator to research independence. In addition to outstanding mentoring, The OCMP&I COBRE will provide the funding and research core support needed for Junior Investigators to succeed and become long-term contributors to the microbial pathogenesis and immunity research community in Oklahoma. Intertwined with the Junior Investigator support, will be the OCMP&I COBRE's mission to address gaps in infrastructure and resources that have limited the opportunities for cutting-edge research in our state. To achieve these objectives, the OCMP&I COBRE will be guided by four overall specific aims.
Specific Aim 1 : Establish a thematic center to enhance research, mentoring, and infrastructure support for microbial pathogenesis and immunity research in Oklahoma, Specific Aim 2: Select and support outstanding Junior Investigators, Specific Aim 3: Expand and enhance infrastructure to support innovative and collaborative research in microbial pathogenesis and immunity in Oklahoma.
Specific Aim 4 : Foster a culture of collaboration and team-science by providing opportunities for frequent scholarly interactions and outreach through seminars, symposiums, workshops, and pilot projects. Key elements for the success of the center include 1) the establishment of a single, but highly facile research core, that can immediately support the first group of Junior Investigator projects and expand to meet ever- changing research needs of investigators in microbial pathogenesis and immunity, 2) up date and modernize research laboratory space where Junior Investigators can work with established investigators and benefit from daily interactions, 3) Develop a pipeline of future Junior Investigators through targeted hires and through collaboration with a network of departmental leaders on multiple campuses, 4) Utilize and capitalize on current IDeA program resources in Oklahoma, and 5) Utilize an ongoing seminar program, sponsor a new annual symposium, and support a grant-writing workshop to encourage collaborative interactions and exchange of ideas among investigators in this multi-disciplinary area of research. Collectively, this five-year Phase-1 COBRE program will establish the first center of research excellence in Oklahoma focused on microbial pathogenesis and immunity and become the central entity that accelerates research by all investigators in these fields and provides a highly-supportive path to independence for our most promising Junior Investigators.
The most recent data shows there were 35,873 annual cases of reportable infectious diseases in Oklahoma and this does not include thousands of other hospital-associated and non- reportable infectious diseases in the state. There is critical need to advance research and develop a better understanding of infectious microbes and the host immune system. The goal of Oklahoma Center for Microbial Pathogenesis and Immunity (OCMP&I) Phase-1 COBRE is to provide the mentoring, resources, and infrastructure needed in Oklahoma to foster outstanding Junior Investigators pursuing research in these fields.