In cystic fibrosis (CF), mutations of the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) unleash a cascade of clinical disorders, including chronic airway infections, systemic inflammation, microbial virulence, diabetes, malnutrition and liver disease. Great progress has been made in some areas of disease, and CFTR modulators provide dramatic benefits to some patients. Still, there is growing evidence of the interconnections among lung and gut dysbiosis and CF pathogenesis. As patients live longer, formerly rare symptoms are becoming more common. Thus, there is a pressing need to both understand and systematically treat the functional relationships between CFTR function, commensal and pathogenic microbes, metabolic states, and innate and acquired immune responses. Dartmouth has an interactive CF research team of 49 faculty members with extramural funding of $11.1M/year, studying epithelial biology, CFTR correction, host-microbe interactions, gut dysbiosis and immunity, as well as airway infections and antimicrobial strategies. The Dartmouth CF Research Center (DartCF) will build on progress made in the past year. We will deploy P30 and institutional funds to recruit new CF faculty, strengthen our research base, and foster interdisciplinary discovery.
Our aims are: 1) to catalyze new research in CF basic and translational research in areas of interest to NIDDK; 2) to develop integrative strategies to understand and address CF pathobiology; 3) to create new research tools and support CF research through outstanding shared services; and 4) to build research capacity in CF locally, regionally, and nationally. We will focus P30 resources on 1) pioneering transparency and interoperability for CF datasets, 2) forging collaborations between CF and data-science researchers to mine these datasets for systems-level perspectives and 3) building on unique Dartmouth longitudinal patient cohorts to explore microbial community structure in the gut, host-microbe signaling, the effects of existing therapies, and implications for whole-body disease. A key theme is that dysbioses are interconnected, and that parallel investigations, coupled by powerful new data-science strategies can understand this complex underlying biology and reveal new therapeutic approaches. In parallel, we will leverage our research base to support early-stage preclinical target development. DartCF supports a variety of mechanisms. First, we fund a Pilot Project Project (P3) to develop new scientific opportunities in NIDDK-revelant areas and to recruit new faculty members to the Center. Second, we fund three scientific cores to support studies in CF: a Gastrointestinal Biology Core (GIBC), a Clinical and Translational Research Core (CTRC), and a CF Bioinformatics & Biostatistics Core (CF-BBC). Finally, we support an Enrichment and Research Administration Core (ERAC) to foster an interactive scientific community, sponsor retreats and courses, and track program progress. These efforts will identify new CF therapeutic opportunities, develop novel interventions, monitor the resulting changes body-wide, and track outcomes. DartCF will intensify the translation of research into improved CF outcomes at Dartmouth.
Cystic fibrosis is a devastating genetic disease that involves multiple organ systems and leads to premature death; therapeutic advances have extended lifespans and improved quality of life, but patients still suffer from airway infections, in addition to CF-related diabetes, digestive complications, and inflammatory responses. Our Center catalyzes new research in preclinical drug development, gut disease and diabetes and changes in patient microbiomes. We believe that these phenomena are interconnected, and that parallel investigations, coupled by powerful new data-science strategies can find new therapeutic approaches for CF patients by understanding the complex underlying biology.