February 12, 2018
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Continuing its commitment to support translational research, the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) of the National Institutes of Health announces five Centers of Research Translation (CORT) (P50) awards. CORTs foster the application of basic research to human diseases within the NIAMS mission. Synergistic teams of scientists carry out these programs to address significant translational research challenges.

Each CORT contains a minimum of three highly meritorious research components: one or more translational research projects, one or more research cores, and an administrative core. Through the CORTs, investigators identify new therapeutic targets, develop treatments or diagnostics, or design prevention strategies for human disease. Combined, their projects and cores aim to improve our understanding of human health and disease.

The 2017 CORT awards are:

Investigations in Gout, Hyperuricemia, and Comorbidities (INSIGHT) Center of Research Translation — Gout, a form of inflammatory arthritis, is associated with decreased work productivity and quality of life. Gout’s comorbidities, particularly chronic kidney disease and metabolic syndrome, are significant burdens on the healthcare system. Building on work from a previously funded CORT, Kenneth S. Saag, M.D., M.Sc., of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, will lead the multi-disciplinary INSIGHT CORT that is exploring the molecular mechanisms of gout with the goal of personalized treatments.

Center of Research Translation on the Osteoimmunology of Bone Infection (CoRTOBI) — Bone infections following total joint replacement are costly, debilitating, and potentially life-threatening. The CoRTOBI at the University of Rochester Medical Center, led by Edward M. Schwarz, Ph.D., will investigate how Staphylococcus aureus bacteria infiltrate bone, establish how the immune system responds to this invasion, and develop strategies for diagnosing and treating these infections.

Psoriasis Center of Research Translation — Psoriasis is a condition in which skin cells accumulate to form scales and itchy, dry patches. This Case Western Reserve University CORT, co-led by Kevin D. Cooper, M.D., Thomas S. McCormick, Ph.D., and Nicole Ward, Ph.D., will merge many types of data from psoriasis patients,including the gene expression profiles of their skin and blood cells, the types of bacteria and fungi that populate their skin, and clinical features from their electronic medical records. The investigators will compare data from these patients with information from other databases, aiming to identify molecular pathways that can be targeted by existing drugs that could be expeditiously moved to clinical trials.

Translational Center of Molecular Profiling in Preclinical and Established Lupus (COMPEL) — Systemic lupus erythematosus is an autoimmune disease, meaning that antibodies attack a patient's own body. Lupus symptoms, the rate of disease progression, and the underlying autoantibody profiles can differ greatly among patients. The overarching goal of the COMPEL team, led by Jill Buyon, M.D., of New York University School of Medicine, is to determine how lupus begins and progresses by focusing on people who have active disease and those who are producing autoantibodies but have not yet developed symptoms.

Translational Studies for Identifying and Targeting Novel Pathways in Systemic Sclerosis Pathogenesis — Systemic sclerosis is a severe scarring disease that affects many organs. This painful disease can be disfiguring when it affects the skin and fatal when it impacts the lungs. This CORT, led by Robert Lafyatis, M.D., of the University of Pittsburgh, will build upon a collaboration with Boston University Medical Center to develop biomarkers of lung and skin complications of systemic sclerosis, test strategies for interfering with the disease, and interpret results using bioinformatics and systems biology approaches.

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