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Indiana CTSI Awards Nearly $3 Million to Promising, Innovative Medical Researchers


These scholarships and pilot funds will support students and researchers at multiple institutions within the three member universities, including the IU School of Medicine. Approximately $2.3 million dollars will support career development grants to young physicians and scientists working on promising research projects. An additional $500,000 will support new research projects aimed at advancing the fight against diseases such as breast cancer, prostate cancer, multiple sclerosis and osteoporosis.

“We’re investing heavily in developing the next generation of medical researchers to strengthen projects which may one day generate new treatments and therapies in Indiana and beyond,” said Anantha Shekhar, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Indiana CTSI. “By providing an early boost to promising projects, the Indiana CTSI gives select scientists the tools they need to attract new research dollars to the region from outside sources, including the federal government and industry.”

The scholarship component is designed to encourage research by new scientists and scientists-in-training, he added, including tuition support for courses focused on developing skills related to “translating” research into new products and treatments that will make a lasting impact on the local community.

The pilot funds are provided by the Indiana CTSI Collaboration in Translational Research (CTR) Awards. This program requires participation from scientists at two or more member institutions or campuses—IU, IUPUI, IU-Bloomington, Purdue and Notre Dame—to encourage statewide collaboration. The scholarships are provided by the Indiana CTSI Young Investigator (K Award) and Trainee Awards (T Award) programs. Graduate student recipients also receive health insurance coverage.

Together, these awards span six teams of scientists from the schools of medicine, nursing and dentistry at IU and veterinary medicine and biomedical engineering at Purdue, and 39 scientists and students studying biochemistry, medical informatics, microbiology, neuroscience, nursing, ophthalmology, pediatrics, pharmacology and toxicology, psychology, public health, radiology and surgery at IU, Purdue and Notre Dame.

Collaboration in Translational Research Awardees:

Johnathan D. Tune, Ph.D., associate professor of cellular and integrative physiology, Indiana University School of Medicine, and Ji-Xin Cheng, Ph.D., associate professor of biomedical engineering, Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering, Purdue University, on “Perivascular adipose-derived leptin and metabolic syndrome induced coronary disease.” (Additional collaborators include Michael Sturek, Ph.D., professor and chair of cellular and integrative physiology, IUSM, and Alexander Obukhov, Ph.D., assistant professor of cellular and integrative physiology.)

Riyi Shi, M.D., Ph.D., professor of neuroscience and biomedical engineering, School of Veterinary Medicine, Purdue, and David Mattson, M.D., professor of neurology, IUSM, on “Basic and Clinical Investigations into a Novel Therapeutic Target for Multiple Sclerosis.”

Melissa Kacena, Ph.D., assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery, IUSM, and Angela Bruzzaniti, Ph.D., assistant professor of oral biology, IU School of Dentistry, on “Megakaryoctes and Pyk2 as Anabolic Stimulators of Bone Formation.”

Ourania Andrisani, Ph.D., professor of basic medical sciences, Purdue, and Liang Cheng, M.D., professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, IUSM, on “Hypoxia and Hypoxia-induced micro RNAs in Advanced Neuroendocrine Prostate Cancer and Neuronal Differentiation.” (Additional collaborators include Donna Fekete, Ph.D., professor of biological sciences, Purdue.)

Jian-Ting Zhang, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology and toxicology, IUSM, and Ji-Xin Cheng, Ph.D., associate professor of analytical and physical chemistry, Purdue, on “Dual functional nanoparticles targeting cancer stem cells for improved treatment of breast cancers.”

Sophie Lelievre, DVM, Ph.D., associate professor of basic medical sciences, Purdue University, and Brittney-Shea Herbert, Ph.D., associate professor of medical and molecular genetics, IUSM, on “Malleable Tissue Models for the Assessment of Breast Cancer Risk, the Identification of Biomarkers and the Design of Prevention Strategies.”

L. Jack Windsor, Ph.D., associate professor of oral biology, IU School of Dentistry, and Matthew Allen, Ph.D., assistant professor of anatomy and cell Biology, IUSM, on “Bone and Connective Tissue Regeneration Agent for Osteoporosis.”

Young Investigator Awardees:

Shawn Ahlfeld, M.D. (IUSM), Lauren Bell, Ph.D. (IUSM), John Breinholt, M.D. (IUSM), Jon Duke, M.D. (IUSM), Laura Hays, Ph.D. (IUPUI-Nursing), Shoji Ichikawa, Ph.D. (IUSM), Philip Johnson, Ph.D. (IUSM), Melissa Kacena, Ph.D. (IUSM), Elaine Lipscomb, Ph.D. (IUSM), Catherine Mosher, Ph.D. (IUPUI), Julie Otte, Ph.D. (IUPUI-Nursing), Brian Samuels, M.D., Ph.D. (IUPUI), Joshua Shrout, Ph.D. (Notre Dame), Margie Snyder, Pharm.D. (Purdue), Ragini Vittal, Ph.D. (IUSM), Zhanxiang Wang, M.D., Ph.D. (IUSM) and Clark Wells, Ph.D. (IUSM).

Trainee Awardees:

Malene Abel (IU-Bloomington), Juan Cardenas (Purdue), James Clancy (Notre Dame), Daniel DiRenzo (Purdue), Brandon Downing (IUSM), Rikki Enzor (IUSM), William Fadel (IUPUI), Sarah Forster (IU-Bloomington), Johanna Hassink (Purdue), Basma Ibrahim (Purdue), Karl Koehler (IUSM), Andrew Koivunemi (Purdue), Whitney Kramer (IUSM), Jill Layton (IUPUI), Gary Leung (Purdue), Matthew Makowski (Purdue), Elizabeth Pfeiffer (IU-Bloomington), Steven Rhodes (IUSM), Shannon Risacher (IUSM), TusaRebecca Schap (Purdue), Christine Steeger (Notre Dame) and Krista Stilger (IUSM).

For more information, including awardee project descriptions, visit the Indiana CTSI.