January 19, 2012

Checking in...

This past weekend, nearly 300 people from 10 academic institutions in Kansas and Oklahoma gathered at a downtown Kansas City hotel for a two-day research symposium sponsored by K-INBRE (Kansas IDeA Network of Biomedical Excellence). The symposium highlights included nearly 20 speakers from the institutions represented, an awards presentation and the display of about 100 posters showcasing the work of the students, post-docs and researchers in attendance.

Since KU Medical Center was awarded the $44 million K-INBRE grant from the NIH in 2001, the K-INBRE team has worked together with NIH-funded mentors, trainees, and promising new investigators to develop and sustain a major statewide initiative to build Kansas strength in life sciences research.

Under the leadership of Joan Hunt, PhD, who directed the program until last year, and current director Douglas Wright, PhD, K-INBRE has awarded million of dollars in grants to junior and senior investigators, as well as undergraduates, graduate students, and post-doctoral fellows at 10 partnering institutions. Many of the awards are starter grants given to young researchers with an interest in cell and developmental biology who have yet to receive major NIH funding. These K-INBRE grants have been a valuable tool in jump-starting promising research careers.

K-INBRE has also been intensely committed to strengthening translational research at KUMC and the other partner institutions. Through its Partnerships for Translational Research Training Core, K-INBRE has encouraged faculty, residents and post-docs to partner with senior clinicians and basic scientists in an effort to cross-train a new generation of researchers with backgrounds in both disciplines.

K-INBRE has forged valuable partnerships with Frontiers, the program associated with KUMC's new Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) grant. With these programs working together, KUMC's reputation as an emerging leader in translational research continues to grow.

KUMC's K-INBRE grant continues through 2014, and K-INBRE leaders are optimistic about renewing this valuable infrastructure grant from the NIH. In the meantime, we can all be proud of the outstanding gains Kansas has made as a result of the hard work and dedication of our K-INBRE team.


Joel Finney, an undergraduate student at KU in Lawrence, discusses his research poster with James Orr, PhD, a professor of molecular biosciences at KU. The two were among the nearly 300 participants at the K-INBRE symposium this weekend in Kansas City.

Around campus

A reminder to all KUMC employees that Kansas is making changes to the state employee health insurance plan. These changes will affect your ability to claim the $40 monthly non-smoker’s discount. The state is now using a system that requires employees to earn credits toward their discount. All KUMC employees, enrolled in the health plan, who wish to receive the discount, must complete an online Health Assessment (worth 10 credits). Those 10 credits, coupled with 10 more (earned by a variety of ways) must be earned by July 31, 2012 to be eligible for the HealthQuest Rewards premium discount of $480 for Plan Year 2013. For more information, please visit the Kansas HealthQuest website.

Hartmut W. Jaeschke, PhD, is the new chair of KUMC's Department of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Therapeutics. Dr. Jaeschke has published more than 250 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters. He was a recipient of a Faculty Research Investigator Award in 2009 and the Chancellor's Club Research Award in 2011.

A reminder that the deadline for submitting nominations for the KU Medical Center Alumni Association's 2012 Alumni Awards is Feb. 8. Awards will be presented during 2012 Alumni Reunion Weekend. You can download a nomination form here or contact the KUMC Alumni & Community Relations Office at 8-1255.

The need for blood now in Kansas City is critical. The Community Blood Bank of Greater Kansas City is sponsoring a blood drive at KUMC on Monday, Jan. 23. The drive will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Stoland Lounge. You can make an appointment here.

In the news

KU's new Clinical Research Center in Fairway will open its doors for patients next week. Last week, the Lawrence Journal World ran an article about the opening of the center and of the Business, Engineering, Science and Technology center on the KU Edwards Campus in March. Read more here.

David Wilson, MD, dean of the School of Medicine–Wichita, and Deborah Clements, MD, a professor of family medicine at the School of Medicine, were among those speaking out this week against a proposed measure that could grant a conscientious objection option to the state's child vaccine mandates. You can read more in articles from the Topeka Capital Journal and KHI News Service.

The University of Kansas Hospital Authority Board has contributed $2 million towards The University of Kansas Cancer Center's NCI designation effort. NCI officials are expected to visit Kansas City next month for a site review as part of the NCI application. Details here.


KU School of Medicine–Wichita Pediatrics chair Barry Bloom, MD, was elected to the American Pediatric Society (APS). The APS recognizes those who have made major contributions to pediatrics.

The NIH's Rare Diseases Clinical Research Network (RDCRN) featured an article on the collaboration between RDCRN and KUMC's CTSA initiative, Frontiers. One of Frontiers' two principal investigators, Richard Barohn, MD, has a strong background on the relationship between clinical and translational research and rare diseases.