The University of Kentucky has been awarded an $11.2 million Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) grant from the National Institutes of Health to study the metabolism of cancer. The grant will fund the university’s Center for Cancer and Metabolism (CCM) over the next five years.
The center will focus its advanced research on the underlying mechanisms that link dysfunctional metabolism to cancer. Kentucky has disproportionately high incidences of both cancer and metabolic disorders. The state leads the nation in cancer deaths and also has one of the ten highest obesity rates in the country.
"As the University for Kentucky, we are uniquely positioned to conduct this level of sophisticated research thanks to the presence of a diverse array of biomedical researchers, clinicians and our leading academic medical center,” said UK President Eli Capilouto in a release announcing the grant. “Research and development is at the core of economic and human development, and it is why UK is Kentucky’s most instrumental change agent, health provider and economic engine. The progress we make offers the brightest future and best hope for Kentucky.”
The CCM will bring together disciplinary strengths at UK in cancer, metabolism and data sciences, coupled with sophisticated metabolomics tools and advanced cancer imaging capabilities. Four junior investigators, mentored by teams of clinicians and scientists from a variety of disciplines, departments and colleges at UK, will lead projects investigating different aspects of cancer metabolism. The investigators include Travis Thomas, Department of Clinical Sciences, UK College of Health Sciences; Yadi Wu, Department of Pharmacology and Nutritional Sciences, UK College of Medicine; Ren Xu, Department of Pharmacology and Nutritional Sciences, UK College of Medicine; and Kate Zaytseva, Department of Toxicology and Cancer Biology, UK College of Medicine.
The CCM is co-led by program directors Daret St. Clair, professor and James Graham Brown Foundation Endowed Chair in the UK Department of Toxicology and Cancer Biology, and Peter Zhou, professor in the UK Department of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry.
"Having the kind of environment where learning and collaboration are placed at the forefront is why we were chosen for this grant, and we hope to continue that throughout the life of this center," St. Clair said. "It will also enable us to reach out to new and talented researchers who want to come to UK to become new project leaders and continue the work we're doing."