$11 million COBRE funding will help create Center for Pre-Clinical Cancer Research at LSU SVM

Children's Health

The Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine, or LSU SVM, has received an $11 million grant to establish a Center of Biomedical Research Excellence, or COBRE. The COBRE funds will create the Center for Pre-Clinical Cancer Research, or Cancer COBRE, which will be based at the LSU SVM. This grant will last for five years and can be renewed for five or more years. The total amount awarded is $11,027,290. The grant’s Principal Investigator is Rhonda Cardin, professor in the LSU Department of Pathobiological Sciences and former associate dean for research and advanced studies.

Less than 5 percent of anti-cancer drugs are successful in clinical trials, indicating that current pre-clinical cancer drug research is not predictive of efficacy in humans. Louisiana ranks fifth in the nation for cancer mortality and above the national average for a number of cancers that also disproportionately affects African Americans. This health disparity is of great concern to Louisiana.

The Cancer COBRE will establish a new specialized core facility, Pre-Clinical Evaluation Core, or PCEC, to provide scientific expertise and technical support for the cancer projects as well as to all LSU researchers. To accomplish this approach, advanced 3D cancer cell culture systems, or spheroids, will provide critical translational information.

The Cancer COBRE will enhance cancer research both at LSU and at Southern University, strengthen collaborative research efforts with LSU HSC-New Orleans and aid in efforts to establish a National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Cancer Center in Louisiana.

“Establishment of a Cancer Center on the LSU-Baton Rouge campus will allow us to discover novel therapies to treat cancer. It’s an exciting time as we launch this new research program,” Cardin said.

The Cancer COBRE aims to identify clinically relevant mechanisms of human cancer using models that closely reflect the disease state in the context of the tumor microenvironment to reveal insights into tumorigenesis and thus drive novel therapeutic discovery. The Cancer COBRE junior investigators will address devastating and/or chronic human diseases that exhibit poor outcomes in patients and for which there are unmet therapeutic needs. The four cancer projects feature osteosarcoma, breast cancer, liver cancer and prostate cancer as diseases that would benefit from pre-clinical models that are more predictive of mechanistic efficacy in humans and animals. Advanced pre-clinical evaluation capability at LSU will provide exceptional training and mentoring to research scientists, including junior principal investigators, graduate students and postdoctoral researchers.

Southern University (SU) is excited to join LSU on this exciting cancer research study. The Center for Pre-clinical Cancer Research will provide SU researchers access to new core research facilities and training opportunities for our faculty and students. We look forward to a strong and productive collaboration.”

Michael A. Stubblefield, Vice Chancellor, Southern University Office of Research and Strategic Initiatives

“I am looking forward to helping us build some highly competitive programs using the support of two major COBRE grants dedicated to Cancer research and treatment,” said Dr. Augusto Ocho, director of the Stanley S. Scott Cancer Center and professor of pediatrics at LSU Health New Orleans.

The funding comes from the National Institutes of Health, or NIH, Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence, or COBRE, program, which seeks to promote the initiation and development or expansion of unique, innovative, state-of-the-art biomedical and behavioral research centers at institutions in IDeA-eligible states, including Louisiana. Research supported by this program spans the full spectrum of basic and clinical sciences and encompasses all areas of health-related investigation. In addition, COBRE projects augment the ability of investigators to compete for investigator-initiated NIH research grants or other external nationally peer-reviewed funding.

“The LSU SVM was the first college at LSU to receive a COBRE grant, and I am proud that we are able to continue to use these funds to bring national recognition to the veterinary school and the university and to forge stronger partnerships with our research colleagues in Louisiana to improve the health and lives of people and animals,” said Joel Baines, LSU SVM dean.

The LSU SVM is now host to three Centers of Excellence, including the Center for Experimental Infectious Disease Research, or CEIDR, established in 2004 by Konstantin “Gus” Kousoulas as principal investigator, and the Center for Lung Biology and Disease, or CLBD, established in 2019 by Samithamby Jeyaseelan, as principal investigator.

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