College of Pharmacy sets record in research funding
The College of Pharmacy reached a new record-setting research year in funding $7.64 million for its college during the 2014-15 fiscal year.
The awarded funding exceeded the previous record of roughly $6 million in 2010.
“In the previous fiscal year from Oct. 2013 to the end of Sept. 2014, we were ranked 38th nationally in research funding by the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy,” College of Pharmacy Dean F. Lamar Pritchard said. “If we compare our most recent research milestone to the other institutions’ funding last year, we would fall between 25th and 26th place in the AACP rankings.”
Some of the highest grants went to Joydip Das, an associate professor of medicinal chemistry, Bradley McConnell, an associate professor of pharmacology, Samina Salim, an assistant professor of pharmacology and Yang Zhang, an associate professor of pharmacology.
“This research funding will ultimately lead to the discovery and development of novel therapeutics and novel drug targets to treat a range of deadly and debilitating diseases, including neurological disease, cardiovascular disease, alcohol abuse, cancer, hypertension, asthma and infectious diseases,” Pritchard said.
Das was awarded $1.79 million from the National Institute on Alcohol and Alcohol Abuse. He will use the funding for specialized equipment and to hire students and post-doctoral fellows to conduct research for his study characterizing a protein that regulates the actions of alcohol in the brain, Das said.
“This research is highly significant, because it may lead to development of therapeutics for alcohol addiction,” Das said. “Very few medications are available for treating alcohol abuse and addiction.”
McConnell was awarded $451,500 from the National Heart, Blood and Lung Institute that be used on research for his project in biophysical, cellular and physiological properties of a protein complex called A-Kinase Anchoring Proteins.
“We’re using molecular-defined mutants to understand the integrated structure, function and relationships in sub-cellular signaling that’s associated with cardiac cell signaling,” McConnell said.
The National Institute for Mental Health awarded Salim $451,500 that she said will be used for her research examining the biochemical basis of behavioral and cognitive impairments that occur in response to psychological stress.
“This new funding will enable my team to investigate and carve out a mechanism that I believe is central to functional impairment in behavior and cognition,” Salim said. “The study is expected to provide novel clues that would inform drug design and therapeutic intervention for anxiety, depression and cognitive impairment.”
Zhang was awarded $3.4 million from the National Heart, Blood and Lung Institute that he said will be used towards his research in the molecular and immunological mechanisms involving the initiation of chronic cardiovascular diseases.
“The funding from NHLBI helped us build (a) strong research team and acquire state-of-art equipment to advance these research programs,” Zhang said. “Hopefully, our research will lead to the discovery of novel methodology and/or therapeutic targets which help diagnose or prevent atherogenesis at the early stage.”
Pritchard said these research projects will produce new findings and therapies in addition to providing an increase in scholarly activity and resources to train future researchers in the graduate and professional degree programs at the College of Pharmacy.
“We are committed to advancing the college and, in turn, advancing the University as part of President Renu Khator’s Tier One vision for UH and, specifically the UH Health Initiative, in improving the health of our communities,” Pritchard said.