Academic Health Center receives 128 grants totaling nearly $35 million in federal stimulus money

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Grants will accelerate health research, create jobs

Academic Health Center scientists, physicians, and research centers have attracted 128 grants totaling nearly $35 million in federal stimulus money (as of Nov. 10) since the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was approved in February 2009. This will result in a total economic impact of more than $105 million; according to the National Institutes of Health, $1 of research funding multiplies to more than $2 of goods and services in the economy.

About 45 percent of the stimulus grants received by the University of Minnesota are coming through the Academic Health Center.

These stimulus grants will accelerate research to advance science and improve health. In addition, the funding will create jobs.

Stimulus grants distributed by the National Institutes of Health to Academic Health Center researchers and centers include funding to: launch recently reviewed studies that can be completed in two years; continue ongoing research; supplement existing targeted grants; support new approaches such as NIH Challenge Grants; and otherwise support research.

The University has netted grants in key research areas such as cardiology, neurosciences, infectious disease, cancer, and diabetes. It has also received infrastructure grants to improve facilities.

Visit for a complete list of all Academic Health Center stimulus grants and for more information about the research funded.

A few snapshots of Academic Health Center stimulus grants:

Who: Karen Hsiao Ashe
What: Strategies to prevent Alzheimer's disease
Amount: $746,460

Alzheimer's disease researcher Karen Hsiao Ashe continues her studies of this disease that impacts millions of people in America and the world. Recently, she has focused on the material that makes up Alzheimer's plaques. In this latest project, she will determine whether specific kinds of these plaque molecules appear early enough in Alzheimer's to become a target for therapies aimed at preventing the illness.

Who: Daniel J. Garry
What: Improve understanding to develop better treatments for heart defects
Amount: $1 million

Heart defects, the most frequent birth defect, contribute to advanced heart failure in children and adults. Cardiologist Daniel J. Garry seeks to illuminate the mechanisms of the developing heart with this federal funding. This study is designed to decipher the molecular pathways that govern development of heart cells, including heart stem cells and heart progenitor cells. If successful, this study may contribute to advances and cell therapies for patients with common and deadly congenital heart disease and advanced heart failure.

Who: Kamil Ugurbil
What: Infrastructure to advance imaging research
Amount: $923,575

This grant continues the National Institutes of Health support that the Center for Magnetic Resonance Research has received annually since 1993 to advance the science of ultra-high, non-invasive magnetic imaging. Center Director Kamil Ugurbil and his team have built a center with unique instrumentation and expertise. The center's experts and its breakthroughs in imaging equipment and techniques support a large community of NIH-funded researchers studying heart disease, cancer, metabolic disorders, Alzheimer's disease, schizophrenia, and other areas of brain science.

Who: Dorothy Hatsukami
What: Finding new strategies to quit smoking
Amount: $924,135

Tobacco researcher Dorothy Hatsukami will research innovative strategies to help people quit smoking. In a clinical trial of cigarette smokers, Hatsukami and her colleagues will compare three strategies: the nicotine patch alone, nicotine-free cigarettes alone, and combining the nicotine patch with nicotine-free cigarettes. The results of this study will help researchers understand which methods to pursue to improve treatments for nicotine addiction.

Psychiatry and brain sciences
Who: Jon Grant
What: A new approach for treating nicotine and gambling addiction
Amount: $475,600

Psychiatrist Jon Grant will research how a dietary supplement, N-acetyl cysteine, combined with brief behavioral therapy will affect both smoking and gambling behaviors. Grant and his colleagues believe this approach will greatly reduce nicotine dependence and pathological gambling symptoms both during treatment and long afterward. If this approach is successful, it will have the potential to set a new standard of care for a range of psychiatric disorders that occur along with nicotine dependence.

The University of Minnesota Academic Health Center is driven to discover and educate to find new treatments and cures in the areas of diabetes, infectious disease, neurosciences, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Comprised of the University of Minnesota's six health professional schools and colleges as well as several health-related centers and institutes, the Academic Health Center is a leader in research and training new health professionals. Founded in 1851, the University is one of the oldest and largest land grant institutions in the country.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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