CONTACT: JENNIFER BROWN
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-9917; fax(319) 335-8034
Release: Oct. 2, 2000
Collaborative research between UI, ISU scientists receives funding
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Researchers from the University of Iowa College of Medicine
and from the College of Veterinary Medicine at Iowa State University (ISU)
will collaborate on projects designed to investigate causes of and potential
treatments for diseases that affect both animals and humans.
The projects will be funded by the Interinstitutional Research Grants Program
(IRGP), which was established three years ago by the universities to encourage
collaborative research between scientists at the UI College of Medicine and
the ISU College of Veterinary Medicine. The initiative provides start-up funds
for research projects deemed likely to secure external funding once they are
"We are already realizing the original IRGP goals of solving important
problems in human and animal health and leveraging the start-up funds to obtain
extramural grants," said Prem Paul, D.V.M., associate vice provost for
research at ISU. "During the first two years, an investment of $180,000
has resulted in five grants totaling $3 million."
This year three collaborative research projects have been chosen to receive
IRGP funding. Bento Soares, Ph.D., UI associate professor of pediatrics, working
with F. Chris Minion, Ph.D., ISU associate professor of veterinary microbiology
and preventative medicine, will receive $27,800 to study "Functional
genomics of diseased swine lung."
Using a new technology called microarray, the researchers will investigate
genes that define changes in the immune response in swine lungs during infections
with major swine pathogens. The goal is to provide insight into how the host
responds and to help identify new host components critical to protective immunity
in the pig.
"It is now clear that pathogens are capable of changing the way they
interact with their host in unique and stunningly rapid ways," Minion
said. "The host processes designed for protection also undergo rapid
and complex changes in response to the invading pathogen, and it is this change
in the host that determines the final outcome of the disease."
Patricia Winokur, M.D., UI assistant professor of internal medicine, together
with Michael Apley, D.V.M., Ph.D., ISU assistant professor of veterinary diagnostic
and production animal medicine, will use a $30,000 grant to study the molecular
characterization and detection of multi-drug resistant, cephalosporin-resistant
Salmonella in animals bred for human consumption and man. Salmonella is an
important pathogen that can be transmitted through the food chain from animals
The researchers plan to develop a molecular screening test to rapidly identify
cephalosporin-resistant Salmonella organisms. Winokur and colleagues have
identified the gene responsible for this antibiotic resistance and have found
that the gene can be transmitted from one bacterium to another.
"We will analyze how widespread this resistance is and begin to identify
risk factors associated with the acquisition of this antibiotic resistance
gene," said Winokur, who is also a researcher at the Veterans Affairs
Medical Center in Iowa City. "We will also explore how this antibiotic
resistance gene has been transferred onto plasmid DNA and whether the plasmids
identified around Iowa have all arisen from a single source or whether they
arise spontaneously on different farms throughout the state."
Randy Kardon, M.D., Ph.D., UI associate professor of ophthalmology and visual
sciences, and Young Kwon, M.D., Ph.D., UI assistant professor (clinical) of
ophthalmology and visual sciences, will work on the project "Stem cells:
Regeneration of optic nerve in glaucoma" with Daniel Betts, D.V.M., ISU
professor of veterinary clinical sciences, and other ISU researchers, using
a grant of $33,008.
The researchers plan to create an animal model of glaucoma to test whether
stem cells can be used to restore vision. Permanent loss of retinal ganglion
cells is the principal cause of blindness in more than 120,000 Americans who
have glaucoma; it is also a hallmark of many other ophthalmic diseases.
"Our working hypothesis is that stem cells can replace lost neurons
in the retina and optic nerve function can be restored," Betts said.
Allyn Mark, M.D., associate dean for research and graduate programs at the
UI College of Medicine, indicated that the multi-disciplinary nature of these
collaborative grants was a key to their success.
"These joint projects harness the expertise of scientists from both
institutions to tackle diseases now understood to have both animal and human
relevance," Mark said. "We intend the IRGP program to foster development
of new avenues of research that will be beneficial to both human and animal
University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between
the UI College of Medicine and the UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient
care, medical education and research programs and services they provide.