The College of Agriculture and the College of Letters and Science received a $5.4 million dollar grant to further investigate biomedical research.
The principal investigator of the grant is Mark Quinn, a professor of immunology and infectious diseases. Quinn noted that the grant “serves two main purposes: the first service is to provide support for equipment and improve research for diseases. Secondly, it will give way for new research ideas to be developed.”
The grant is a Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) grant. It is awarded by the National Center for Research Resources within the National Institute for Health (NIH), and its main purpose is to “strengthen an institution’s biomedical research infrastructure and to enhance the ability of investigators to do research.” The grant is funded through the NIH’s Institutional Development Award (IDeA) program.
MSU has received two previous COBRE grants and this third grant will last for five years ending in 2019. It will help to further increase the accomplishments of the two past grants, awarded in 2004 and 2009. The grants supported MSU building the Jutila Research Laboratory and in hiring MSU junior faculty members who have received various major recognitions for their research efforts at MSU.
Blake Wiedenheft is one of the members who was hired through the grant. He works in MSU’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology and seeks ways to treat infectious diseases and genetic disorders. He most notably and recently won a 2014 Grand Challenges Exploration grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
For MSU, the new grant will allow student and faculty researchers to investigate emerging diseases and how to develop paths to fight them. More specifically “researchers will look at zoonotic diseases which involves diseases transmitted from animals to humans,” Quinn said.
Zoonotic diseases are usually contracted in humans through bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi. An example of this is the West Nile Virus that has affected over 1.5 million people in the U.S. since 1999, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention. The CDC also noted that “75 percent of recently emerging infectious diseases in humans are of animal origin,” including the recent cases of Ebola found in the US and internationally.
In 2012-13, MSU was awarded more than $93,500,000 for research from federal agencies, private corporations and foundations. The COBRE grant has only added to the continued success of MSU’s academic research.
Quinn noted that the impact this grant will be important to MSU, “We are trying to create new ideas and research opportunities for students and faculty here. This grant allows us to do just that.”