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GSM Faculty Receive More than $2.6 Million for Grant-Funded Research

Since the start of calendar year 2020, University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine (GSM) researchers have received more than $2.6 million in extramural grant support from the National Institutes of Health and foundations as well as industry partners for investigator-initiated projects related to health care needs including amyloidosis, omega-3 fatty acid formulations, orthopedic implants, and the impact of better contraceptive access on birth spacing.

Dr. Paul J Hauptman, Dean of GSM said, "Increased research productivity is very important to the GSM, The University of Tennessee Medical Center and the wider UT community. We are very pleased with the progress to date and look forward to even more success going forward."

Grant supported projects are (click the investigator name to learn more ):


Investigator: Rajiv Dhand MD, Wahid T. Hanna Endowed Chair of Medicine and Professor
Evaluate Feasibility, Safety and Efficacy of Nebulized Long-Acting Bronchodilators (Formoterol and Revefenacin) vs. Short-Acting Bronchodilators (Albuterol and Ipratropium) in Hospitalized Patients with AECOPD
Sponsor: Mylan

Dr. Dhand is studying a new long-acting nebulized drug developed to help breathing in patients with COPD. The medications that are currently approved for treatment of hospital patients with COPD have to be administered every 4 to 6 hours. This trial evaluates whether longer-acting medications given by nebulizer are safe and effective for these seriously ill patients. Dr. Dhand said that if the project is successful, it could lead to a change in management for over 750,000 patients who are admitted to US hospitals annually with acute exacerbations of COPD.

Investigators: Jack Gotcher DMD PHD, Professor and Residency Program Director of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery; Joshua Campbell MD, Clinical Assistant Professor of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery; Tom Masi PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Surgery
3D Printing to Generate a Novel Biomimetic Platform for Oral/Maxillofacial Bone Tissue Engineering
Sponsor: Osteo Science Foundation

The reconstruction of large bone defects is a challenge within the realm of oral and maxillofacial surgery. The proposed study aims to use 3D bioprinting to create osteoinductive scaffolds and subsequently test the scaffolds to see if they regenerate bone in an animal model.

Investigator: Michael Karlstad PhD, Professor of Surgery, Division of Trauma and Critical Care
The Digestion, Intestinal Uptake, and Lymphatic and Portal Vein Transport of Omega-3 Fatty Acid Formulations
Sponsor: Amarin Corporation

Dr. Karlstad received a research contract from Amarin to conduct several studies related to the company's novel omega-3 fatty acid formulations which may improve microvascular permeability in the lungs. He hopes to quantitate the concentration and rate of transport of these omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid formulations from the small intestine into the lymph and portal vein and to determine if there are any protective effects against sepsis-induced lung injury.

Investigator: Annette Mendola PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine (Clinical Ethics)
Effectiveness of Concurrent Care to Improve Pediatric and Family Outcomes at End of Life
Sponsor: National Institutes of Health

Dr. Mendola is collaborating with faculty from the College of Nursing at UT-Knoxville on a project that aims to improve care for children and adolescents who have serious, advanced illnesses. The study intends to identify their unique life-prolonging care needs in addition to their structured palliative needs, and to investigate whether those care needs vary by type of illness.

Investigator: Stacy Stephenson MD, Assistant Professor of Surgery; Lisa Duncan MD, Chair and Associate Professor of Pathology; Jeffrey Hecht MD, Associate Professor of Surgical Rehabilitation
Muscle Driven Orthopedic Implants for Limb Reconstruction
Sponsor: National Institutes of Health

This project will test a new type of limb prosthesis in a pre-clinical model. The prosthesis will be completely implanted within living skin and physically attached to the residual muscles that remain after amputation. Using an animal model, the team will measure the extent to which the prosthesis affects locomotion, strength and the muscle tissues attached to it. To carry out the project, the PI, Dr. Dustin Crouch at UT Knoxville, will lead an exceptional team of collaborators across the College of Engineering, College of Veterinary Medicine, and the GSM. They hope that the muscle-driven, implanted prosthesis will one day provide more realistic control and sensation of movement to amputees.

Investigator: Paul Terry PhD, Professor of Medicine
Ovarian-Cancer Survival in African-American Women
Sponsor: National Institutes of Health

African-American women have decreased survival after diagnosis with ovarian cancer compared with women from other racial/ethnic groups. Through this study, Dr. Terry and co-investigators seek to better understand the clinical, environmental, genetic, behavioral, and societal factors that may be responsible for the disparity in survival from this disease.

Investigator: Jonathan Wall PhD, University Distinguished Professor and Director, Amyloidosis and Cancer Theranostics Program
Development of chimeric antigen receptor-expressing macrophages for enhanced phagocytosis of systemic amyloid
Sponsor: National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Aging

Study: Immunotherapeutic for ATTR/AL Cardiac Amyloidosis
Sponsor: National Institutes of Health/Small Business Innovation Research

Study: Developing a Theranostic Immunotherapy for Systemic Amyloidosis
Sponsor: National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

Study: Development and Evaluation of Therapeutics of Systemic Amyloidosis
Sponsor: Attralus, Inc

Dr. Wall has received multiple grants to develop new reagents that can be used primarily to image as well as clear amyloid fibrils from affected organs. He will also work in collaboration with Attralus, a company that has purchased licensing rights to several of Dr. Wall’s patents. Read more about Dr. Wall’s research.

Investigator: Nikki Zite MD, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology
An Interrupted Time Series Analysis to Assess the State and Regional Impact of Tennessee Medicaid’s Immediate Postpartum Long Acting Reversible Contraception Policy Change on Short-Interval Births
Sponsor: Merck

According to Dr. Zite, TennCare in 2017 agreed to pay for Immediate Postpartum Long Acting reversible contraceptive devices and insertions during the delivery admission. The current study, funded by Merck, will evaluate whether the policy has decreased the rate of repeat births at less than 2 years (an independent risk factor for maternal and infant health).  Dr. Zite will study specific high-risk populations including pregnant teenagers and pregnancies impacted by substance use disorders (SUD) and medical co-morbidities.

In addition to extramural grant support, GSM faculty have been awarded more than $200,000 through philanthropic initiatives launched by The University of Tennessee Medical Center to fund seed projects related to cancer and Alzheimer's disease. Read more about the Cancer Institute grant recipients here:

Posted: May 25, 2021


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