In September 2003 the James Graham Brown Cancer Center at the University of Louisville was awarded a five-year, $11 million Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) grant in Molecular Targets by the National Center for Research Resources at the National Institutes of Health. This grant establishes the Molecular Targets Program at the Brown Cancer Center as a Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) which allows them to continue to recruit and bring together the best researchers from a variety of disciplines to identify and develop new molecular ‘targets’ for anti-cancer drugs and therapies using the techniques of modern structural biology.
In 2008, the Brown Cancer Center received a $10.1 million renewal of COBRE from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Like the previous funding, the renewal will provide five years of support, giving talented young scientists an opportunity to produce initial data in new fields of study so that they may quickly seek individual federal research grants.
“The renewal of our COBRE grant at this level, particularly in this highly-competitive funding environment, is well-deserved national recognition of the outstanding scientific discoveries made at the Brown Cancer Center over the past five years – discoveries that will ultimately change lives and create jobs for our community and state,” said UofL President James Ramsey.
“We truly have the minds behind the cures right here in Louisville,” said Brown Cancer Center director Donald Miller.
“Of the first five young scientists funded by the previous grant for biomedical research, four have successfully competed for individual NIH grants and two of those have discovered new cancer drugs that are being licensed for future commercialization,” Miller said. “The second group includes outstanding researchers who have already contributed to discoveries in molecular targets, cancer vaccines, stem cell biology, gene therapy and computer modeling of how carcinogens interact with genes.”
The COBRE-funded scientists in molecular targets are:
- Jason Chesney, M.D., Ph.D.
- Geoffrey Clark, Ph.D.
- Albert Cunningham, Ph.D.
- Magda Kucia, Ph.D.
- Chi Li, Ph.D.
- Qiutang Li, Ph.D.
- Robert Mitchell, Ph.D.
- Binks Wattenberg, Ph.D.
- Hong Ye, Ph.D.
The two major objectives of this COBRE in Molecular Targets are to (1) discover new approaches to the therapy of cancer, and (2) ensure the success of junior investigators of the Molecular Targets program at the Brown Cancer Center. These objectives will be met through the following specific aims:
- To foster successful independent research careers for the principal investigators of the five research projects, leading to independent R01 grants.
- To further build the existing core facilities of the Brown Cancer Center that will enhance the research capability of the five principal investigators and other members of the program and the Center.
- To continue to develop the Molecular Targets Program as a cohesive research program that promotes collaborative research projects and increases funding opportunities.
- To develop an internationally and nationally recognized program that attracts the very best graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and additional faculty.
- Most importantly, to make discoveries that lead to new and more effective treatments for patients with cancer.