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CTRC Colloquium Showcases Novel Technologies, Pilot Studies

Published April 26, 2013

For the second year, the UB Clinical and Translational Research Center (CTRC) showcased award-winning studies and technologies developed by UB researchers and collaborators.

“The work presented has enormous potential to advance translational science.”
Timothy F. Murphy, MD
senior associate dean for clinical and translational research

Six projects were presented April 12 during the 2013 Clinical and Translational Research Colloquium.

These interdisciplinary projects show promise to translate quickly from the research stage to clinical use as improved treatments or medical procedures.

Each received a grant from the center's Translational Pilot Studies Program in 2012. The projects were selected from among 44 applications based on their potential to leverage major external funding.

Exciting Translational Research Underway

"The colloquium was a great success, attracting more than 100 researchers and trainees from throughout UB and Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI)," says Timothy F. Murphy, MD, senior associate dean for clinical and translational research and SUNY Distinguished Professor of medicine

"It is exciting to see the high caliber of research supported by the UB CTRC Translational Pilot Studies Program," he adds. "The work presented has enormous potential to advance translational science and will undoubtedly lead to larger extramural funding to faculty."

Awardees and Their Translational Research Projects

The projects are briefly described below.

Improved Diagnosis of Graft Skin Lesions

The research team has developed a multifunctional optical imaging probe―a much-improved method for diagnosing skin lesions that occur in graft versus host disease.

This common and potentially serious disorder occurs in patients who have had bone marrow and stem cell transplants.

Biomarkers for Autoimmune Skin Disease

This dermatology research team investigated the use of state–of-the-art proteomics methods, or protein studies, to understand the cause of pemphigus vulgaris, an autoimmune disease of the skin.

The researchers developed novel, sophisticated methods to identify the triggers of the autoimmune response, providing important new data that can lead to better treatment.

Their novel autoantigen arrays will aid the discovery of biomarkers for the disease.

Identifying Breast Cancer Patients at Greater Risk for Heart Damage

A complication of a common form of breast cancer therapy is damage to the heart. In an intriguing example of personalized medicine, these researchers found that patients with a particular genetic marker (present in about 40 percent of the population) are far more susceptible to heart damage from this treatment compared to people who lack the marker.

They studied the carbonyl reductase 3 genotype and its link to cardiomyopathy.

With further testing, this observation could lead to a powerful new individualized therapy for breast cancer that results in improved outcomes.

Photodynamic Treatment for Bacterial Infections

In a look into the future of antibiotic therapy, this research team is testing photodynamic therapy, now used to treat some cancers, as a novel antibiotic therapy for bacterial infections.

The approach has great potential, particularly in treating infections caused by biofilms, which are bacteria encased in a thick material that resist conventional antibiotics.

Enhancing Vaccine Efficacy in Ovarian Cancer

This research team is working to better understand how a cancerous tumor resists the human immune system, an important first step in the quest to develop effective cancer vaccines.

Using sophisticated methods, the team is studying the tumor microenvironment to gain knowledge about these immune effects. This work has the potential to lead to novel ways to overcome the suppression of the immune system, thus enhancing the effectiveness of cancer vaccines.

One Size Fits All: Tissue-Engineered Blood-Vessel Grafts

Using state-of-the-art tissue engineering, these researchers are developing grafts that surgeons can use to bypass blocked blood vessels at many sites.

This novel approach is a huge improvement over current methods that rely largely on surgically “harvesting” veins from other sites.

Grant Program Demonstrates Commitment to Research

The grants were funded through contributions totaling $200,000 from the following:

  • the dean’s offices of UB’s five health sciences schools (medicine and biomedical sciences; dental medicine; nursing; pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences; and public health and health professions)
  • UB's Office of the Vice President for Research
  • UB's Office of the Vice President for Health Sciences
  • UB's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
  • Roswell Park Cancer Institute

Grants Awarded Based on Peer Review

An interdisciplinary, 14-member Pilot Studies Oversight Committee selected the winning projects, following an initial round of peer review coordinated by Kenneth Tramposch, PhD, associate vice president for research.

The committee was co-chaired by Leonard H. Epstein, PhD, SUNY Distinguished Professor of pediatrics, and Steven J. Fliesler, PhD, Meyer H. Riwchun Endowed Chair Professor of ophthalmology, professor of biochemistry and research health scientist at the Buffalo VA Medical Center.