UTHSC’s Global CORNET Awards Names Winners with Chinese University

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Dr. Gabor Tigyi

Three research teams have just been announced as the 2018 awardees for the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC)/Harbin Medical University (HMU) Collaborative Research Network (CORNET) Awards in Cancer Vascular Disease, Diabetes, and Epidemiology.

Envisioned by Steven R. Goodman, PhD, vice chancellor of Research at UTHSC, and Dianjun Sun, PhD, vice executive president of HMU in China, the aim of the UTHSC/Harbin University CORNET Awards is to stimulate innovative, interdisciplinary, team-based research in cancer, vascular disease, drug discovery (especially related to vascular disease), diabetes, and epidemiology that involves investigators from UTHSC and HMU, which will give rise to future external funding. Awardees and their project titles are:

• “Exploring the Mechanism of Tmem43 Induced Cardiomyopathy” — Lu Lu, MD, (UTHSC); Deli Dong, PhD, (HMU)

• “Chemotherapy-enhanced Immunotherapeutic Response in Treating TNBC” — Zhaohui Wu, MD, PhD, (UTHSC); Qingyuan Zhang, MD, (HMU)

• “Development and Evaluation of Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T Cells for Treatment of Multiple Myeloma” — Marko Z. Radic, PhD, (UTHSC); Jin Zhou, MD, PhD, (HMU)

Nearly two years since its inception, the CORNET Awards have been the seed of more than $1.3 million in funding to support new collaborative research teams and their groundbreaking initiatives. The awards were designed to promote new lines of research, and are not intended as bridging funds or a mechanism to extend ongoing funded research. Each team has been awarded $50,000, with equal financial support coming from both institutions, to foster their novel research projects.

“I am very enthusiastic about our first Global CORNET Awards with our partner HMU,” Dr. Goodman said. “These teams of awardees are performing exciting research in the areas of cancer and cardiovascular disease. We are hopeful that their work will lead to improved therapeutics that improve the health of the global community.”

To be eligible for a UTHSC/HMU CORNET Award, each proposal must have included, at minimum, one faculty member from UTHSC and one from HMU. All UTHSC campuses were eligible for proposal submission. Resources were available to fund up to $50,000 per award for one year. Addenda will allow for an additional one-year, no-cost extension, depending on the respective progression of each research initiative.

Leaders from each institution have been working on several new international opportunities for researchers, from education to entrepreneurship. In 2017, UTHSC’s College of Graduate Health Sciences welcomed eight students from HMU for its Summer Interns Program, and another five PhD students from HMU entered into the Integrated Biomedical Sciences (IBS) Program in the fall.

Gabor Tigyi, PhD, associate vice chancellor for Industry Relations and Global Partnerships, and his team have been communicating with representatives from Harbin Medical University for more than a year. He is looking forward to the continues success that this partnership will bring to both universities.

“I am very excited about UTHSC research ‘going global,’ ” Dr. Tigyi said. “That will increase the competitiveness of researchers on both sides.”