The UI Carver College of Medicine has been an international leader in interdisciplinary research, beginning with its establishment of the Cardiovascular Research and Training Center in 1975. It has since evolved significantly and currently includes the Cystic Fibrosis Research Center, the Cystic Fibrosis Clinical Center, the Cooperative Human Linkage Center, the Helen C. Levitt Center for Viral Pathogenesis and Disease, the Center for Gene Therapy of Cystic Fibrosis and other Genetic Diseases, the Center for Macular Degeneration, the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, the Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center, the Iowa Neuroscience Institute and 19 specialized centers funded by program project and other complex research grants. There are few medical schools at which the environment for interdisciplinary research is richer and deeper than at UI, and this atmosphere is strongly fostered by the current leadership of the College of Medicine. A subset of the above-listed entities is described below.
Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center (Director, Dale Abel)
The Fraternal Order of Eagles partnership with UI led to establishment of the Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center (FOEDRC) through a $25 million dollar gift to UI. The FOEDRC currently supports 103 UI faculty members who are interested in diabetes research, and its FY18 funding base was $52 million. The FOEDRC supported the recruitment of 13 new faculty members over the past six years, in partnership with the Basic Science Departments in the Carver College of Medicine; these departments provide the tenure-track appointments for these researchers. In 2017, the FOEDRC obtained a $2.02 million T32, entitled the Diabetes Research Training Program, from the NIDDK. This training grant is co-directed by Dr. Abel and Dr. Andrew Norris (also a Member of the Gene Therapy Center supported by this P30, and studies cystic-fibrosis related diabetes). The FOEDRC has built two Research Cores that facilitate diabetes research at UI. The Metabolic Phenotyping Core provides access to specialized and non-invasive metabolic assays that are essential for understanding the physiology of animal models of insulin resistance and diabetes. Equipment maintained by this Core includes metabolic chambers with both Promethion and CLAMS systems, a Bruker MiniSpec body composition analyzer, and an XF-24 Extracellular Flux Analyzer for the study of mitochondrial and tissue energetics. Services provided by this Core include routine testing, such as for glucose and insulin tolerance, as well as advanced glycemic clamps developed by Dr. Norris (including hyperglycemic clamps and traced euglycemic hyperinsulinemic clamps). The Metabolomics Core is equipped with a Thermo Q Exactive GC-MS hybrid quadrupole-Orbitrap mass spectrometer, an ISQ LT GC-MS single quadrupole mass spectrometer, and a Q Exactive LC-MS hybrid quadrupole-Orbitrap mass spectrometer. Traced stable isotope isomer analysis is also available within the Metabolomics Core. The FOEDRC and its cores will be a valuable asset to this P30.
Cystic Fibrosis Clinical Center (Director, Douglas Hornick)
The UI Cystic Fibrosis Clinical Center has both an Adult Care Division (Director Douglas Hornick) and Pediatric Care Division (Director Paul McCray). Each provides a team of caregivers who provide state-of-the-art medical care. Both Divisions are staffed by pulmonary physicians specializing in cystic fibrosis, in adults and children, respectively, in addition to nurse practitioners, nurses, dietitians, respiratory therapists, social workers and clinical pharmacists. Adult patients are seen in a common outpatient clinic located in the Carver Pavilion, and children are seen in the Children’s Hospital. In all cases, the attending physician is a member of the Cystic Fibrosis Center. The UI Cystic Fibrosis Clinical Center is also part of the Cystic Fibrosis Therapeutics Development Network (TDN), which provides technical and administrative support for multi-center clinical trials.
The Cystic Fibrosis Research Center (Director, Michael Welsh)
The outstanding UI Cystic Fibrosis Research Center is directed by Dr. Michael Welsh and has a close collaborative relationship with the Cystic Fibrosis Clinical Center. Its endeavors are facilitated by the comprehensive, combined adult and pediatric care team of the Clinical Center, which includes physicians involved in both clinical and basic investigation. The Center is supported by a Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Research Development Program award and two NHLBI Program Project Grants on CF pigs and ferrets. This Center supports cores that enhance both the clinical and research environment for cystic fibrosis, as well as related enrichment programs. Many of the investigators in the Cystic Fibrosis Research Center also care for patients in the Clinical Center. This drives their passion to improve the lives of cystic fibrosis patients.
The Cardiovascular Research Center (Director, Dr. Barry London)
Directed by Dr. Howard Dittrich, the Cardiovascular Center was established in 1975 by the Dean of the College of Medicine, to: 1) combine the cardiovascular programs of the College into a more cohesive unit that utilizes its cardiovascular resources optimally; 2) intensify, expand and integrate basic and clinical research programs in areas related to cardiovascular research; and 3) evaluate the effectiveness of new measures for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease. The 18,000 square-foot facility that houses the Cardiovascular Center consists of a fifth- and sixth-floor addition to the Medical Research Center Building, which is approximately the geographic center of the complex that encompasses the University Hospitals, the Medical Laboratories Building, Eckstein Medical Research Building and Bowen Science Building. The fifth and sixth floors house investigator research laboratories, core research laboratories, administrative offices and seminar rooms, as well as the cardiovascular library and the learning resource unit. Unique and attractive features of the Cardiovascular Center programs at UI are the close working relationships and cooperation between members of the basic science departments and the clinical departments, particularly the departments of Medicine, Neurology, Pediatrics and Surgery. Another element that has been key to the success of this Cardiovascular Center is been the availability of a critical mass of full-time, tenured basic scientists and clinical investigators at UI. This represents a major commitment of university and state resources to cardiovascular programs, and contributes substantially to their stability and success.
Iowa Institute of Human Genetics (Director, Richard Smith)
The Iowa Institute of Human Genetics (IIHG) integrates state-wide activities in human genetics to promote clinical care, research, and education focused on the medical and scientific significance of variation in the human genome. It has made important progress in multiple areas. For example, its Research Division has developed two targeted disease panels, a research exome program, and a bioinformatics pipeline for both clinical and research use. The pipeline is currently being expanded to increase its functionality by including haplotype reconstruction. As genomic data are generated, robust phenome-genome integration protocols are being developed to improve the mining of genomic data and the evaluation of identified variants for possible phenotypic relevance. All of these efforts require focused educational outreach – for healthcare providers, patients and the general public. For healthcare providers the institute offers the Clinician-identified Exome Analysis for Rare Diseases (EARD) program, an annual bioinformatics short course, the IIHG seminar series, and a pilot grant program that supports human genetic research. For patients and the general public, it has developed a number of educational brochures and offers mini-medical school lectures and career days in human genetics. Undergraduates can participate in the IIHG summer internship program in genetic counseling and bioinformatics, and in the summer course in human genetics. The theme of innovation is integral to all IIHG activities, which ensure that and it reaches an international constituency. As a resource, the IIHG is open to all faculty, trainees, and staff in the 11 colleges at UI, as well as to their counterparts at Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa.
Iowa Institute for Biomedical Imaging (Director, Colin Derdeyn)
The Biomedical Imaging and Image Analysis Program established the Iowa Institute of Biomedical Imaging (IIBMI) in 2007. The IIBMI was forged by a strong interdisciplinary group of established researchers from the colleges of Medicine, Engineering, Liberal Arts and Sciences and Public Health. It brings together researchers from all areas of medicine, including recognized programs in cardiovascular, pulmonary, neurological, and psychiatric imaging, as well as from image analysis and radiation treatment planning. The Institute focuses on research and discovery in biomedical imaging at UI, making it a multi-disciplinary process and facilitating new relationships with industry, new grant opportunities, and new educational opportunities at both the undergraduate and post-graduate levels. The IIBMI has state-of-the art CT, micro-CT, PET, SPECT, PET-CT, MRI and Ultrasound imaging units for animals.
Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (Director, Thomas Casavant)
The UI Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (CBCB) is a multidisciplinary research enterprise dedicated to integrative research involving biomedicine, engineering, basic life sciences, computational science, translational medicine, mathematics and statistics. Founded jointly by the colleges of Medicine and Engineering in 2002, the CBCB has members from 7 colleges, representing more than 20 departments. Students working on graduate degrees represent a wide variety of disciplines and interdisciplinary programs. The core of the Center's facilities are in the Seamans Center for the Engineering Arts and Sciences, but faculty members and students are housed in departments throughout campus. Over the past 15 years, research in this growing field at the UI has led to significant contributions to large-scale genome and transcriptome sequencing, gene-mutation discovery, and the development of numerous computational and analytical methods for analyzing genetic and molecular biology systems.