HSOP Researchers Part of Five PAIR-Funded Projects

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June 22, 2018

AUBURN, Alabama – Auburn research teams are tackling local and global challenges ranging from housing affordability to advanced manufacturing of medical implants, thanks to a new $5 million investment in 11 groundbreaking projects designed to deliver practical, life-changing solutions. Of the 11 funded projects, researchers from the Harrison School of Pharmacy (HSOP) are a part of five of them, totaling $2,362,500.

“Auburn research is on the move,” said Auburn President Steven Leath. “Our world-renowned faculty are leading Auburn in our drive to solve problems, provide real-world benefits and serve the social good.”

The funding is part of an initiative created by Leath called the Presidential Awards for Interdisciplinary Research, or PAIR. The program supports ideas that foster creativity, facilitate collaboration, and assist Auburn University in reaching new levels of distinction.

RELATED: Read more about the 11 PAIR-funded projects

Projects either being led by HSOP or including its researchers include using 3D printing to improve implants/orthotics, the creation of a Center for Neuroscience, using extra-virgin olive oil as a therapeutic for Alzheimer’s Disease, developing a new treatment for liver disease and discovering a new antibiotic-producing bacteria.

“I am so very proud of the enthusiasm of our pharmacy faculty surrounding the PAIR Program,” said Dean Richard Hansen. “The Harrison School of Pharmacy is very well represented among the winners of these highly competitive awards. This is another indication of the value and potential of our growing research programs that improve human health.”

Project teams were selected from three award tiers: Tier 1 for new teams, with funding up to $100,000 per year; Tier 2 for established teams, with funding up to $250,000 per year; and Tier 3 for high-impact teams, with funding up to $500,000 per year. All proposals received an in-depth evaluation from Auburn’s associate deans for research, and Tier 3 proposals were also externally evaluated.

Top-evaluated proposals were those that most closely aligned with the goals of PAIR as stated in the program guidelines. From 101 proposals received, 11 project teams will receive funding.

Projects involving HSOP researchers are:

Tier II ($637,500) Reducing the burden of neurological disease by increasing fundamental knowledge about the brain and nervous system (Vishnu Suppiramaniam, Miranda Reed, Richard Hansen, Raj Amin, Tim Moore, Randall Clark, Murali Dhanasekaran, Amal Kaddoumi, Rusty Arnold, Peter Panizzi, Alexei Kisselev, and Jianzhong Shen along with collaborators from Human Sciences, Liberal Arts, Science & Mathematics, Veterinary Medicine, Education, Engineering, and VCOM)

This group will work to mitigate against mental, neurological and substance use disorders, which make up a substantial proportion of the world’s disease burden. The team of experts will collaborate to develop a neuroscience center to increase fundamental knowledge about the brain and nervous system and to use that knowledge to reduce the burden of neurological disease.

Tier III ($1,275,000) Creating better bio-medical implants for patients in need using additive manufacturing, or “3D Printing” (Amal Kaddoumi, Jay Ramapuram, and Rusty Arnold, as part of a team with Engineering, Veterinary Medicine, and Business)

Auburn researchers plan to develop improved implants/orthotics for those with neuromuscular and skeletal system needs through the process of additive manufacturing.  This process, also known as “3D printing,” allows for more customizable implants for small animals and humans and the possibility of embedded drugs in implants to ward off infections that can sometimes follow implant surgeries.  Research will take place to ensure “3-D printed” biomedical implants will remain durable during use and conform well to a patient’s needs while serving as a reliable drug-delivery source that can offer injury-triggered pain relief. The additive manufacturing process also helps reduce implant production costs.

Tier I ($150,000) Extra-virgin olive oil examined for uses in treating hallmarks of Alzheimer’s (Amal Kaddoumi, along with collaborators from Engineering, Liberal Arts, Veterinary Medicine, and VCOM)

Auburn researchers are examining the consumption of extra-virgin olive oil for its potential to have a positive effect on the disease hallmarks of Alzheimer’s Disease. The research team is seeking to conduct more research into this area to determine the viability of findings for humans. The team will conduct a pilot study on the positive effects of extra-virgin olive oil and to produce data for a strong human clinical trial to be submitted to funding agencies.

Tier I ($150,000) Development of the AU-NASH Research Program (Raj Amin and Rusty Arnold, along with collaborators from Engineering, Education, and VCOM)

Auburn researchers are seeking solutions to the problem of nonalcoholic steatotic hepatitis, or NASH, the most severe form of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and perhaps the most significant form of chronic liver disease in the world today, which has no current approved therapies available. The research team will work to address this urgent, unmet medical need by developing a disease therapy program to increase positive outcomes for those suffering from fatty liver disease associated from Diabetes.

Tier I ($150,000) Drugs from Dirt: Development and Characterization of Novel Antimicrobial Compounds (Angela Calderon, as part of a team with Science & Mathematics)

Because many disease-causing organisms are resistant to current drug therapies, Auburn scientists are pursuing new approaches to the development of antibiotics. Researchers will test and develop new therapeutic strategies for treating infectious diseases, through the study of antiobiotic-producing bacterial cultures they have discovered in soil. These are potentially life-saving antibiotics that could have application in human medicine, agriculture, and veterinary practice.

For more details on each PAIR project and how Auburn is inspiring as a leading provider of life-changing research, creative scholarship and community engagement, visit www.auburn.edu/auburninspires.


About the Harrison School of Pharmacy

Auburn University’s Harrison School of Pharmacy is ranked among the top 20 percent of all pharmacy schools in the United States, according to U.S. News & World Report. Fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), the School offers doctoral degrees in pharmacy (Pharm.D.) and pharmaceutical sciences (Ph.D.) while also offering a master’s in pharmaceutical sciences. For more information about the School, please call 334.844.8348 or visit http://pharmacy.auburn.edu.

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Last Updated: July 13, 2018