University of New England Awarded $10 Million NIH Grant to Research Neurobiology of Pain, Establish COBRE

The University of New England has received the largest research award in its history, with a $10 million award announced today by the National Institutes of Health.

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Funding will help drive innovative research that increases our understanding of pain as a progressive disease, while also connecting us with strategic partners who can translate these findings into new treatments for patients suffering from chronic pain.”

Biddeford, Maine (PRWEB) August 13, 2012

The five-year NIH award will be used to establish the University of New England Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) for the Study of Pain and Sensory Function. UNE’s COBRE aims to significantly contribute to the scientific understanding of the neurobiology of chronic pain and sensory function, facilitating the discovery and development of new therapies.

UNE already has a well-established Center for Excellence in the Neurosciences (CEN), led by founding director and Associate Provost for Research and Scholarship Edward Bilsky, Ph.D. and co-director Ian Meng, Ph.D. Dr. Meng serves as the principal investigator on the NIH COBRE award and Dr. Bilsky is a co-investigator. They are both eminent scientists in the pain and neuroscience fields with well-established translational research programs.

Meng says, “Chronic pain is a major health, social and economic problem worldwide, affecting about one in three people. Although research has vastly increased our knowledge about the basic mechanisms of acute, inflammatory and neuropathic pain, relatively little is known about the processes involved in the transition from acute to chronic pain. Funding will help drive innovative research that increases our understanding of pain as a progressive disease, while also connecting us with strategic partners who can translate these findings into new treatments for patients suffering from chronic pain.”

Bilsky adds, “The COBRE award is the culmination of many years of hard work and investment from faculty members and the institution. Through both a common vision of building biomedical research capacity at the university and a passion around relieving the burden of pain, UNE has assembled a talented group of scientists, physicians and health professionals. The National Institutes of Health have recognized the progress made to date, and have made a very significant investment in ensuring that we continue to grow our pain and neuroscience research programs.”

UNE’s COBRE comprises a core group of UNE neuroscientists, pharmacologists and chemists focused on understanding the neurobiology of pain. The center will benefit from UNE’s current and continued investment into its research infrastructure, as well as collaborations among UNE colleges and with other research institutions.

The COBRE provides career development, mentorship and research support for UNE’s junior faculty. It will also strengthen UNE’s medicinal chemistry capabilities in collaboration with the College of Pharmacy to help explore the pathophysiology of chronic pain and develop potential new clinical drug candidates. This will lay the foundation for future development of a clinical pain research group to collaborate with UNE’s basic science investigators.

The grant will enable UNE to increase the number of neuroscience investigators to further build on its critical mass of personnel necessary to sustain a vibrant and competitive research center, as well as recruit and hire additional investigators whose research programs will complement those of existing faculty.

The funds will also be used to renovate laboratory space, purchase core behavioral, imaging and histology equipment, and fund key support personnel, providing the infrastructure, equipment and personnel necessary to support the COBRE’s research programs.

The University of New England is an innovative health sciences university grounded in the liberal arts. UNE has internationally recognized scholars in the liberal arts, sciences, health and medicine; offers more than 40 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs; and is home to Maine’s only medical school. Its two distinctive campuses in Biddeford and Portland, Maine offer student-centered interprofessional programs in the College of Osteopathic Medicine, Westbrook College of Health Professions, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Pharmacy, and College of Graduate Studies. The College of Dental Medicine will enroll its inaugural class in 2013. For more information, visit http://www.une.edu.


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