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UTMB-CET: Collaborative Research Teams

Role in the Center—A primary proactive function of our UTMB-CET will be the support of the Collaborative Research Teams (CRTs). This represents an innovative solution to the constraints on collaborative translational research imparted by the former Research Core structure. A CRT comprises a group of investigators with expertise in different complementary areas assembled to execute the various steps of a significant environmental health research project. The CRTs represent the primary mechanism for promoting new and existing collaborative research amongst multi-disciplinary investigators to address strategic opportunities. CRTs typically vary in composition depending on the specific project or team goals, and contain a mixture of basic and clinical investigators, with support from biostatisticians and bioinformaticians. The CRT leadership will be self-selected, but must be either an existing member of the UTMB-CET, or secure membership contingent upon satisfying membership criteria and being endorsed by the Internal Advisory Board. Membership enables CRT investigators to gain access to the Center-supported Core facilities at member rates, and petition for support through the Director's fund. The CRT composition is intended to be flexible and adapt as the team's objectives evolve. Hence, CRTs are inherently dynamic and represent an excellent vehicle for multi-disciplinary strategies. CRTs provide the research focus that dictates the types of services provided by the Integrative Health Sciences Facility and other Facility Cores.

Characteristics of CRTs—Each CRT will perform goal-oriented, project-focused, intrinsically multidisciplinary research to meet translational objectives of a clinically relevant environmental health problem. The central concept of a CRT is goal orientation, with the CRT's composition and structure driven entirely by the goal. Hence, the specific faculty composition of the CRT may, and very likely will, change over time, particularly with larger projects that evolve in scope and focus. Moreover, we view CRTs as outstanding educational resources, so they also function as a vehicle for career development of junior investigators through a structured mentoring program, and for educating postdoctoral and predoctoral trainees in association with the NIEHS T32 Toxicology Training Grant. The intent is for the CRTs to be non-hierarchical, where the CRT leadership functions as a manager rather than the commander of the research enterprise.

The CRT coordinator and management of the CRT—The CRT coordinator functions as the liaison between the CRT and other components of the UTMB-CET. The coordinator also recommends to the Director, creation of a new CRT based on its compatibility with the UTMB-CET mission, followed by IAB review and ratification. A major role for the coordinator is to monitor CRT progress of existing, and in particular nascent CRTs towards meeting their milestones and ultimate research goal(s). The CRT coordinator also helps to identify and allocate resources needed to facilitate CRT project development.

New CRT research objectives may derive from investigators, or as a result of an opportunity identified by the UTMB-CET. The CRT identifes measurable goals and intermediate milestones linked to a timeline. Good milestones are objective, specific, achievable, and when accomplished, result in important progress toward the overall goal. The resulting Milestone Map will serve as the metric of project progress and performance, and will be reviewed by the CRT coordinator through periodic communication with the CRT leader and through annual reporting by the CRT to the Administrative Core.

Existing CRTs

  • Environmental determinants of viral bronchiolitis
  • Severe Asthma
  • Role of Oxidative Stress in Lung Inflammation in Asthma, COPD, and Lung Cancer
  • Prevention of Oxidative Stress-Induced Inflammation by Aldose Reductases
  • Hepatocellular Carcinoma
  • Mechanisms of Environmental Estrogen Toxicity

Collaborative Research Teams

Table 1a: Environmental Determinants of Viral Bronchiolitis. This CRT is derived from the “Pediatric Respiratory Infections” Multidisciplinary Translational Team (MTT) in the CTSA and draws much of its membership from the Asthma Pathogenesis Research Core in the current UTMB–CET structure. The CRT continues and extends research on the interactions of viral infections with second-hand tobacco smoke in modulating inflammatory responses in the lungs in a mouse model and in children. Asterisks denote UTMB-CET members.

Investigator CRT Role
R. Garofalo, MD* Leader, Mentor
A. Casola, MD* Leader, Mentor
D. Kolli, PhD Investigator
J. Wiktorowicz, PhD Investigator, Proteomics
A. Brasier, MD* Investigator, CTSA Director
A. Kurosky, PhD* Investigator, Protoemics
I. Boldogh, PhD* Investigator
W. Calhoun, MD* Clinical Investigator
H. Spratt, PhD Investigator, Bioinformatics
Y. Hosakote, PhD Investigator
M. Gupta, MD CTSA K12 trainee (Garofalo)
D. Esham, MD CTSA pilot investigator
B. Xiaoyong, PhD Investigator, CRSP trainee (Casola)
T. Wood, PhD* Investigator, Genomics
J. Grady, PhD Investigator-Biostatistics
S. Jain, MD Investigator
K. Rajarathnam, PhD Investigator
L. Hallberg, PhD Investigator
P. Piedra, MD Investigator

Table 1b: Severe Asthma Collaborative Research Team (SACRT). This CRT is derived from the “Phenotypes of Severe Asthma” MTT in the CTSA. It extends the goals of the MTT characterizing unique patterns of protein expression in bronchiolar alveolar lavage samples from asthma patients to investigate the role of ambient air pollution in exposed populations. The leader is William J. Calhoun, MD, Director of the Coordination Core of the CTSA. Asterisks denote UTMB-CET members.

Investigator CRT Role
W. Calhoun MD* Leader, Mentor
C. Prys-Picard MBBS PhD Trainee (Calhoun)
B. Ameredes PhD* Investigator
M. Moore PhD Biorepository Director
H. Ju PhD* Investigator, Biostatistics
A. Kurosky PhD* Investigator, Proteomics
J. Wiktorowicz PhD Investigator, Proteomics
A. Brasier MD* Investigator, CTSA Director

Table 1c: Role of Oxidative Stress in Lung Inflammation in Asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), and Lung Cancer. This CRT comprises a collaboration among investigators formerly in the Asthma Pathogenesis and DNA Repair and Mutagenesis Research Cores of the UTMB–CET. The CRT is investigating the role of oxidative stress and lung inflammation associated with asthma, COPD, and lung cancer. Both environmental etiologies and endogenous mechanisms of induction of pulmonary oxidative stress are being studied. Asterisks denote UTMB-CET members.

Investigator CRT Role
S. Sur, MD* Leader
I. Boldogh, Ph.D.* Investigator
V. Cardenas, MD Clinical Investigator, Mentor
T. Hazra, PhD* Investigator, UTMB-CET pilot project grant recipient
A. Kurosky, PhD* Investigator, Proteomics
S. Mitra, PhD* Investigator
M. Willis, MD Clinical Trainee (Cardenas)

Table 1d: Role of Aldose Reductase (AR) in Inflammatory Disease Mechanisms. This CRT establishes a collaborative study by investigators in the Oxidative Stress and Signaling, and Asthma Pathogenesis Research Cores in the UTMB–CET. It is based on the discovery that inhibition of AR imparts anti-inflammatory effects that improve outcomes in colon cancer, asthma, and ocular disease. The basic research findings are now leading to the development of a clinical trial using an AR inhibitor. Asterisks denote UTMB-CET members.

Investigator CRT Role
S. Srivastava, PhD* Leader, Mentor
E. van Kuijk, MD/PhD Clinical Investigator, Mentor
K. Ramana, PhD Investigator
N. Ansari, PhD* Investigator
I. Boldogh, PhD* Investigator
U. Yadav, PhD Postdoctoral Trainee (Srivastava)
Tammali, PhD Investigator
Aramati, PhD Investigator
N. Kalariya, PhD Postdoctoral Trainee (van Kuijk)
S. Sur, MD* Clinical Investigator

Table 1e: Hepatocellular Carcinoma. This CRT is derived from the “Hepatitis C–Hepatocellular Carcinoma MTT in the CTSA with a specific focus on both biomarker discovery and the role of ROS and environmental liver toxins in cancer. Asterisks denote UTMB-CET members.

Investigator CRT Role
C. Elferink, PhD* Leader, Mentor, CTSA pilot project grant recipient
L. Ciacalese, MD Mentor, Transplant surgery
B. Luxon, PhD* Mentor, Bioinformatics
H. Ju, PhD* Investigator-Biostatistics
J Petersen, PhD Investigator-Pathology
J. Sun, PhD Investigator
I. Boldogh, PhD* Investigator, Mentor
H. Spratt, PhD K25 Trainee (Luxon)
M. Mustafa, PhD Postdoctoral Trainee (Elferink)
D. McGivern, PhD Post-doctoral Trainee, UTMB-CET pilot project grant recipient

Table 1f: Mechanisms of Environmental Estrogen Toxicity. This CRT comprises a multi-institution collaborative team which is investigating mechanisms of toxicity of Bisphenol A and related compounds in human populations and in wildlife. Specific health outcomes of interest include asthma, reproductive effects, breast and endocrine tissue cancers, and behavioral effects. The members of this CRT were previous recipients of a UTMB-CET pilot project grant to facilitate the development of a multicenter Superfund proposal. Asterisks denote UTMB-CET members.

Investigator CRT Role
C. Watson, PhD* Leader, Mentor and UTMB-CET pilot project grant recipient
D. Crews Investigator, Mentor
K. Cunningham, PhD Investigator
K. Johnson, PhD Investigator
P. Thomas, PhD Investigator, Mentor
G. Ansari, PhD* Investigator, IHSFC Exposure Assessment Facility Director
A. Landry, PhD Investigator
D. Cowan, PhD Investigator
T. Midori-Horiuti, PhD* Investigator, Mentor and UTMB-CET pilot project grant recipient
R. Goldblum, MD* Investigator, Clinician
S. Petronella, PhD* Investigator, COEC Director
D. Estes, PhD Investigator
B. Kaphalia, PhD* Investigator, IHSFC Exposure Assessment Facility
R. Alyea, PhD Postdoctoral Trainee (Thomas)
J. Guptarak, PhD Postdoctoral Trainee (Watson)
Y. Nakajima, PhD Postdoctoral Trainee (Midoro-Horiuti)

NIEHS Toxicology Training Grant

Pre-doctoral Education in Environmental Toxicology. Several graduate programs at UTMB host students in laboratories engaged in environmental health science research, and provide a relevant curriculum. In addition, the NIEHS has aided research and training in Toxicology at UTMB since 1990 with a Training Grant in Molecular Mechanisms for Environmental Injury (T32 ES07254). Significant factors in the growth and sustenance of our interdisciplinary Toxicology Training Program include: establishment of institutional John Sealy Centers in Molecular Medicine (SCMM), in Structural Biology (SCSB), and in Environmental Health and Medicine (SCEHM) in 1992, 1995 and 1999, respectively; and establishment of the UTMB-CET in 1995. Resources provided by the UTMB-CET greatly enhance the research and educational opportunities and the intellectual climate for the trainees associated with current Training Program preceptors who are UTMB-CET investigators, particularly those attached to a CRT.

A major goal of the interdisciplinary NIEHS Training Program is to prepare trainees for independent careers in research, teaching, or the application of toxicology information to areas such as risk assessment and our legal system. Professional development of all predoctoral and postdoctoral toxicology trainees is fostered in the following ways: 1) by facilitating access to core laboratories and other resources of the UTMB-CET; 2) by providing regular opportunities to meet in small groups with visiting seminar speakers; 3) by helping trainees prepare presentations of their research in oral platform or poster formats; 4) by providing guidance in the formulation and preparation of applications for individual fellowship and Pilot Project research funds; 5) by encouraging their participation in the development of minicourses and in the organization of regional scientific meetings; and 6) by providing trainees with experience in mentoring undergraduate students who conduct research projects in the laboratories of Training Program preceptors as part of our Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP). Since January 2004 we have provided all NIEHS trainees the opportunity to participate in the development, teaching and grading of an undergraduate toxicology course at TAMUG—the Galveston branch of Texas A&M University.

UTMB-CET Members
Members Email More information
Sherif Abdel-Rahman
Bill Ameredes
Shakeel Ansari
Naseem Ansari
Istvan Boldogh
Paul Boor
Allan Brasier
Werner Braun
Wlodzimierz Bujalowski
William Calhoun
Antonella Casola
Xiaodong Cheng
Sharon Croisant
Cornelis 'Kees' Elferink
Ella Englander
Roberto Garofalo
Randall Goldblum
Tapas Hazra
Richard Hodge
Hyunsu Ju
Bhupendra Kaphalia
M. Firoze Khan
Rolf König
Alex Kurosky
James Lee
Lee-Jane Lu
Bruce Luxon
Sankar Mitra
John Papaconstantinou
J. Regino Perez-Polo
Louise Prakash
Satya Prakash
Larry Sowers
Satish Srivastava
Sanjiv Sur
Cheryl Watson
Thomas Wood

Third Column

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