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New CORNET Milestone Reached


The Office of Research is celebrating yet another CORNET hit, with a recent $1.15 million NIH award to Wei Li, PhD, UTHSC Distinguished Professor and director of the College of Pharmacy Drug Discovery Center, and Jianxiong Jiang, PhD, associate professor in Pharmaceutical Sciences and Neurobiology at UTHSC.

The two are principal investigators on a project titled “Targeting TRPC3 Channels for Epileptic Seizures.” Julio Cordero-Morales, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Physiology, is a co-investigator on the study, which is focused on developing a potential new drug target to treat epileptic seizures. The team has previously patented a selective TRPC3 inhibitor as a new druggable target for anti-seizure therapy. Their goal is to develop a lead TRPC3 inhibitor that is stable and safe, with favorable pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic properties. They will test its effectiveness in suppressing acute seizures, spontaneous recurrent seizures, and/or improving cognitive outcomes.

The grant is a significant milestone for the CORNET program, as it puts the total external dollars generated from CORNET-funded work over the $30 million mark.

The CORNETs (an acronym for Collaborative Research Network) were created by Dr. Steven Goodman in 2016 to give collaborative research teams the initial funding they need to collect data for larger studies. Dr. Li was a 2016 recipient of a CORNET award for a project titled “Selective Targeting of TRPC3 Ion Channel for Alzheimer’s Disease Therapy”, a collaborative study with Catherine Kaczorowski, PhD, former UTHSC assistant professor in the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, and Kristen O’Connell, PhD, former UTHSC assistant professor in the Department of Physiology. Findings from that initial study were leveraged to develop this latest project, exemplifying the CORNET’s role in attracting large, external awards – and growing the bottom-line in UTHSC grants and contracts.

Over the years, UTHSC Vice Chancellor for Research Steve Goodman, creator of the CORNET program, has awarded 63 CORNETs worth a combined $2.26 million. With this latest NIH award, extramurally funded grants stemming from CORNET work total almost $30.4 million, a whopping 13.45-fold return on investment.

It is incredibly gratifying that the CORNET awards, which we created five years ago, have led to the creation of new successful collaborations across traditional boundaries, important and creative biomedical research, and at the same time has contributed over $30 million to UTHSC grants and contracts. I want to congratulate Dr. Jianxiong Jiang, Dr. Wei Li, and Dr. Julio Cordero-Morales, for receiving this NIH grant award and all of the other CORNET awardees who have contributed to UTHSC surpassing this $30 million milestone.

–Dr. Steve Goodman


The CORNET award for this project was critical for us to jump start this work. It took a while for this project to mature due to unexpected delays, but we are happy to see this great outcome.

— Dr. Wei Li