University of Hawaiʻi Receives $9.3 Million Grant From NIH to Establish Center for Biomedical Research Excellence

University of Hawaiʻi
Shawn Nakamoto, 956-9095
University & Community Relations
Kristen Cabral, 956-5039
University & Community Relations
Posted: Oct 29, 2001

The Pacific Biomedical Research Center (PBRC) at the University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa has been awarded a $9.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to establish a Center for Biomedical Research Excellence for cardiovascular research. The award is a five-year grant that will enable UH Manoa researchers to further study vascular and cardiovascular diseases and the genes that cause these diseases.

The grant, which will be made in equal portion over five years, is a multidisciplinary initiative that also involves the John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM), Cancer Research Center of Hawaiʻi (CRCH), and the College of Natural Sciences (CNS).

"With the awarding of this grant, the University is on its way to making biomedicine an integral part of its research portfolio, and is proving that it is capable of reaching across boundaries in the service of scholarship and the state," said UH Manoa Interim Chancellor Deane Neubauer.

The Center will be led by Dr. Charles Boyd, director of the Laboratory of Matrix Pathobiology of PBRC and principal investigator for this grant. The structure of the Center will also include a mentoring group, five faculty investigators, and the administration.

"Our goals are to enhance mentoring and research capabilities of a group of nationally recognized and established investigators, as well as provide opportunities for retention of productive faculty," explained Dr. Boyd. "These talented investigators are going to work to contribute to a better understanding and ultimately improved approaches and treatment of the unique problems in cardiovascular disease inherent in [our] multiethnic community."

In recent years, investigators at all four institutions involved in this grant have participated in an emergence of vascular and cardiovascular biology activities at UH Manoa that are of direct relevance to this initiative. Discoveries within the Laboratory of Matrix Pathobiology of PBRC have been made of gene mutations responsible for diseases and disorders such as supravalvular aortic stenosis (SVAS) and pseudoxanthoma elasticum (PXE), and these identifications, particularly of the PXE gene, have led to the development of several new projects.

Researchers involved in this interdisciplinary approach to vascular and cardiovascular biology, which will involve the work of those in such areas as biochemistry, genetics, and molecular biology, look forward to the contribution the continued growth of this Center will have towards the development of other areas of research excellence at UH Manoa. This includes the development of molecular pharmacology, an area in which research programs already exist in both CRCH and CNS. A developing research presence in ethno-botanicals or ethno-pharmaceuticals is also a high priority as it could provide opportunities for the development of intellectual property that could enhance a new biotechnology industry in Hawaiʻi.

Participating in this initiative as mentors are Dr. Katalin Csiszar of PBRC, Dr. Alan Lau of CRCH, and Dr. Aleksander Hinek of PBRC. The five project principal investigators include Dr. Bonnie Warn-Cramer of CRCH, Dr. Ping-An Li of PBRC, Dr. Kristin Kumashiro of CNS, Dr. Olivier Le Saux of PBRC, and Dr. Zsolt Urban of PBRC.

PBRC is the third largest research institute on the UH Manoa campus. The research programs within PBRC are varied, and range from retrovirology to marine biology, conservation biology, a Clinical Research Center, molecular endocrinology, and importantly, a well-established training and mentoring initiative, the Research Centers in Minority Institutions Program.