MEMPHIS, TN — Four research teams have just been announced as the 2017 awardees for the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC)/ University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) Collaborative Research Network (CORNET) Awards in Cancer. This is the second CORNET funding opportunity established between the two institutions. The UTHSC/UAMS CORNET Awards in Cancer are designed to provide seed money to stimulate innovative, interdisciplinary, team-based cancer research, which will give rise to future extramural funding.
Conceived by Steven R. Goodman, PhD, vice chancellor for Research at UTHSC, and Lawrence Cornett, PhD, vice chancellor for Research at UAMS, the UTHSC/UAMS CORNET Award winners will receive a combined total of $191,000 in pilot funding for one year. Their project titles are:
• “HPV Genotypes Associated with Esophageal Cancer Excess in Poultry Workers” – David Shibata, MD, FACS, FASCRS (UTHSC); Eric Johnson, MB;BS, PhD, MPH, DTPH (UAMS)
• “TNF-α Targeted Nanomedicine for Improved Chemotherapy and Radiation Treatment in HNSCC” – Murali M. Yallapu, PhD (UTHSC); Robert Griffin, PhD (UAMS)
• “Online vs. In-person Lay Health Advisor Training for Weight Loss” – Llana Graetz, PhD (UTHSC); Karen Yeary, PhD (UAMS)
• “An Investigation of the Microbiome and Mucosal Immune System in Breast Tumor and Normal Tissue from African American and non-Hispanic White Women” – Athena Starlard-Davenport, PhD (UTHSC); Barbara Fuhrman, PhD (UAMS)
In the Fall of 2016, the two institutions partnered to establish the first UTHSC/UAMS CORNET Award opportunity which focused on substance abuse. Kristin Hamre, PhD, associate professor at UTHSC, and Cynthia Kane, PhD, professor at UAMS, were later announced as the $50,000 collaborative winning team. Dr. Goodman explains that the CORNET program and its increasing popularity among researchers at UTHSC and UAMS is simple to understand.
“UTHSC and UAMS are both very strong Research Institutions which are close in physical proximity and have overlapping scientific areas of excellence, said Dr. Goodman. “Dr. Cornett and I are providing a platform on which our respective faculty can find research synergies where the sum is greater than the individual parts. We expect that these CORNET awards will be a springboard towards greater collaborative efforts leading to groundbreaking research and better treatments and cures for many forms of cancer.”
Dr. Cornett remains inspired by the potential outcomes in the field of cancer research due to the continued success of the collaborative partnerships between both institutions.
“I believe we are seeing the beginning of several new collaborations involving investigators from UAMS, UTHSC and the West Cancer Center that will advance our understanding of cancer as well as lead to new treatments and diagnostics,” said Dr. Cornett. “It’s been gratifying to see the response of cancer investigators from these three institutions following the 2017 Cancer Research Conference held in Memphis last May.”
The CORNET Awards are being implemented in five phases: (1) UTHSC CORNET Awards, where 21 new collaborative teams from different UTHSC colleges and campus locations have been granted funding since April 2016; (2) UT CORNET Awards, of which three teams of researchers from multiple UT campuses across the state of Tennessee were granted more than $150,000 to pursue their cancer research projects in April 2017; (3) USA CORNET Awards, of which UAMS is UTHSC’s first partner university; (4) Global CORNET Awards; and (5) UTHSC/Southern Research CORNET Award in Drug Discovery and Development, the newest CORNET opportunity to be created.