UofM/UTHSC Collaborative Grant Competition Yields 23 COVID-19 Research Proposals

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The University of Memphis (UofM) and the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) are teaming up in a venture to secure a portion of federal funding allocated for COVID-19 research. The two universities issued a call for collaborative research proposals, which has yielded 23 projects addressing the SARS-CoV-2 virus and its related disease, COVID-19.

Dr. Steven Goodman

The awards at stake are part of UTHSC’s Collaborative Research Network (CORNET) program, a seed funding initiative designed to encourage interdisciplinary collaboration on novel and innovative research that will lead to larger, national grants. The UofM/UTHSC SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 Research CORNET is a grant competition specifically geared to facilitate new collaborations between UTHSC and UofM faculty on projects designed to better understand the disease and find therapies to end the pandemic. Funding is available for up to five teams, each of which must have at least one principal investigator from each of the partner institutions. Each funded project will receive $50,000, with the UofM and UTHSC contributing equally to the award.

“It is critical that the medical and scientific aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic be addressed first,” said Jasbir Dhaliwal, PhD, executive vice president for research and innovation at the UofM. “The social and economic consequences can be mitigated if the scientific problem is resolved quickly.”

Dr. Jasbir Dhaliwal

“UTHSC research faculty are working diligently to find efficacious treatments for COVID-19,” said Steven Goodman, PhD, vice chancellor for research at UTHSC. “These studies range from basic and translational research being performed by Dr. Colleen Jonsson in the Regional Biocontainment Laboratory to clinical trials brought in through CTN2 and our UTHSC clinical trial offices. Dr. Jasbir Dhaliwal and I are now using the powerful CORNET Award platform to bring together researchers from UofM and UTHSC to collaborate on research projects that take advantage of the synergistic expertise at both institutions. The level of interest by faculty at both campuses, exemplified by 23 joint applications, is gratifying. Most importantly, the funded applications will address the health of all Tennesseans and people around the globe being impacted by this pandemic.”

The submitted proposals run the translational science spectrum from T0, or basic science research conducted in laboratories (such as the study of multi-organ tissue injury resulting from COVID-19 infection), to T4, or community-based research. Examples include a look at how the COVID-19 epidemic is affecting vulnerable populations in Shelby County; or examining how COVID-19 is impacting school services for children with disabilities and their families.

The goal of these team-based projects is to generate data that will lead to larger, national grants. The CORNETs have a strong track record in generating subsequent federal funding. Since the creation of the awards in 2016, $1.8 million in CORNETs have been awarded; extramurally funded grants stemming from CORNET stimulated research totals over $19 million – an 11-fold return on investment.For more information, please contact Jasbir Dhaliwal at jdhaliwl@memphius.edu or Steve Goodman at sgoodma5@uthsc.edu.