The month of March ended with a slew of NIH awards coming in from UTHSC’s Office of Sponsored Programs. As we wind our way through congratulating each PI and reporting on each project, we want to pause and immediately highlight two awards in particular:
- $4,407,885 million to Dr. Jim Bailey, MD, MPH, Robert S. Pearce Endowed Chair in Internal Medicine, professor of Medicine and Preventive Medicine, and Director for the Center for Health Systems Improvement at UTHSC. This 3-year U18 is from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), for his project, Tennessee Heart Health Network: Implementing Patient-Centered Practices in Primary Care to Improve Cardiovascular Health
- $3,062,575 million to Dr. Glen Palmer, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Clinical Pharmacy at UTHSC. This 5-year R01 is from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for his project, Antifungal antagonism as a cause of treatment failure for invasive mycoses
Both projects had their start with what we hope is by now a well-known Office of Research initiative: the CORNET Awards.
For those not in the know, a little background information:
The CORNETs (an acronym for Collaborative Research Network) are a seed funding program created by Dr. Steven Goodman in 2016, to give researchers the initial funding they need to collect data for larger studies. They were created to address a specific strategic goal: incentivizing collaboration. Initially developed to encourage the creation of new interdisciplinary research teams that crossed UTHSC college boundaries, the CORNETs quickly expanded to include collaborations between researchers across the UT system, various regional and global academic institutions, and industry partners.
For example, in 2017 Dr. Palmer received a jointly-funded UTHSC/Southern Research (SR) CORNET Award for a project targeting the development of an entirely new class of antifungal medications to combat a range of invasive fungal infections. The collaboration included SR’s HTS Center, which assisted Dr. Palmer in screening around 200,000 compounds for active chemical leads as part of the project. The SR Chemistry Department also played an integral role in the work after the initial active compounds were identified.
Likewise, in 2018, Dr. Bailey received a Health Disparities Research CORNET for his project, “Geographic, income, and racial disparities in continuity of care and their effect on health care utilization for obesity-associated chronic conditions.” Collaborating with Joshua R. Mann, MD, MPH of the University of Mississippi Medical Center and Lizheng Shi, PhD, MsPharm of Tulane University, the project aimed to address ongoing health system improvement across the South, and address the most-pressing health needs of underserved populations in the Mississippi Delta region.
When the CORNET program was created, the intent was for the awards to give birth to findings that could be leveraged into larger studies capable of attracting external funding. In the best case scenario, multiple rounds of national funding. Five years later, the CORNETs have proven successful in doing just that. While Dr. Bailey’s award is the first national ‘hit’ he has received from his initial CORNET, Dr. Palmer’s is his third.
But these are only the two most recent success stories. Over the years, Dr. Goodman has awarded about 63 CORNETs worth a combined $2.26 million. Twenty-five extramurally funded grants, totaling over $28.6 million, have stemmed from CORNET work, a whopping 12.7-fold return on investment.
The Office of Research takes great pride in every award achieved by UTHSC faculty, and is particularly happy whenever the CORNETs are shown to have been instrumental in helping them reach their goals. We are proud to have hit upon an investment strategy that yields such growing support for them. We invite all readers to join us celebrating and congratulating Dr. Palmer, Dr. Bailey, and the entire CORNET team.