October 01, 2008

University of Toledo, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine develop joint research center to study immune diseases

Universities receive $3 million in capital funds from the Ohio Third Frontier Program

The University of Toledo (UT) College of Medicine and the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine have established an interdisciplinary center of excellence, named the Ohio Center for Innovative Immunosuppressive Therapeutics, to study, develop and commercialize new drugs to treat disorders of the immune system. The universities received $3 million in capital funds from the Ohio Third Frontier Program to support the development of the new facility.

"Millions of Americans suffer health problems that are the result of disorders of the body's immune system, diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, lupus, psoriasis, and atopic dermatitis that occur when the immune response is inappropriate in some manner," said Akira Takashima, UT professor and chair of the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, who is the principal investigator of the program and will serve as the center director.

Kevin C. Cooper, professor and chair of the Department of Dermatology at Case Western Reserve's School of Medicine, is the principal collaborator at Case and will serve as the co-center director.

Of the $3 million, UT will receive $2.08 million to renovate and add laboratory and office space in its Medical Microbiology and Immunology Department for two prominent research scientists who will be recruited by UT, and update its Proteomics Core Laboratory with a next-generation mass spectrometer for proteomics research.

Case Western Reserve will receive approximately $920,000, to create a sophisticated, interactive video conference facility that will house large video screens, electronic projectors, a conference table with microphones and interactive whiteboards for collaborative discussions and conferences, as well as a multiphoton laser scanning microscope, and a state-of-the-art flow cytometry system. The video conference facility will be housed in the Case School of Medicine's Department of Dermatology.

The state award requires the two universities to provide matching funds for the center.

"Our immediate goal is to develop the infrastructure and facilities that are absolutely required for our future recruitment of Ohio Research Scholars Program endowed scholars and for the commercialization of new immunosuppressive drugs by using the capital funds," said Cooper.

Plans call for new drugs developed at the center to first be tested for safety and clinical efficacy in the Case School of Medicine Dermatology Translational and Clinical Trials Unit. Case's Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine, Comprehensive Cancer Center, Skin Disease Research Center and the Center for Translational Research will also have important roles in the project. Likewise, the Center for Drug Design and Development and the Ohio Crystallography Consortium on UT's Main Campus will facilitate the drug development efforts.

In addition, two biotechnology firms, Gene Express, Inc., headquartered in Wilmington, N.C., and Cognitive Pharmaceuticals, Ltd., of Toledo, and the Regional Growth Partnership, will collaborate in the project.

For more information contact Christina Thompson, 216.368.3635.

Posted by: Kimyette Finley, October 1, 2008 10:12 AM | News Topics: Faculty, HeadlinesMain, Provost Initiatives, Research, School of Medicine, news

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