Xiao-Ming XuXiao-Ming XuPhoto courtesy of Indiana UniversityINDIANAPOLIS -- One team of scientists is searching for an innovative repair strategy for human spinal cord and brain injuries. Another is looking for cures for the "wasting away," experienced by patients with cancer, congestive heart failure, AIDS and other underlying diseases.

Both are the recipients of a grant from the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis to establish their research centers as viable units whose work will translate into better understanding of disease and the development of better cures and treatments.

The two groups are among five research center teams awarded development funding in Round 8 of the IUPUI Signature Centers initiative Program.

"This is the eighth year that we have been running this internal grant program, and I congratulate the new centers that have been selected for funding," Kody Varahramyan, IUPUI vice chancellor for research, said.

"The Signature Centers Initiative has become a key cornerstone of the IUPUI research enterprise, playing an important role in enhancing research and scholarly activity, while fostering the development of research centers that are addressing important national and global needs, and contributing to economic and social well-being," Varahramyan said.

Two of the five centers selected in the latest round have received Category A (three-year) funding:

  • Center for Spinal Cord and Brain Injury Research, Xiao-Ming Xu, director, IU School of Medicine.  Focus: To understand molecular mechanisms underlying traumatic spinal cord and brain injuries and to develop innovative repair strategies that can be translated to clinical treatments of these diseases in a timely and responsive fashion.
  • Indiana Center for AIDS Research, Samir Gupta, director, IU School of Medicine. Focus: To develop internal infrastructure to facilitate novel collaborations among researchers that will lead to improving access to care for all HIV/AIDS patients; and improving retention in care and adherence to antiretroviral therapy especially for racial and sexual minorities.

The other three centers have received Category B (one-year) funding for planning purposes:

  • Center for Aerial Unmanned Systems Imaging, Dan Johnson, director, IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI. Focus: non-military applications of unmanned aerial systems (drone) technology such as remote imaging for water quality, mosquito habitat mapping, disaster preparation and precision agriculture; and the utilization and analysis of data collected with unmanned aerial systems.
  • Institute for Product Lifecycle Innovation, Hazim El-Mounayri, director, Purdue School of Engineering and Technology. Focus: the promotion and management of product lifecycle practice in advanced manufacturing and life science applications in order for American industries to remain competitive in the global market; to serve as a test bed and vehicle for the rapid implementation of advanced product liability tests, digital manufacturing and designing.
  • Center for Cachexia Research Innovation and Therapy, Teresa Zimmers, director, IU School of Medicine. Focus: U.S. multi-investigator cachexia (involuntary weight loss) research center will support development of interdisciplinary, multi-investigator collaborations through meetings, a research retreat and the development of a regional consortium with Ohio State University; and center will invest in a thematic research program on cardiopulmonary effects in tobacco-associated cancer cachexias.

The IUPUI Signature Centers Initiative fosters the development of centers that are unique to IUPUI and that can lead the way in world-class research and creative activities, and make a difference in the lives of people. The initiative provides each selected center with initial funding for a period of one to three years. The centers are re-evaluated at the end of three years and if approved, receive a five-year designation as an IUPUI Signature Center.