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COBRE Program Garners Accolades from the National Institutes of Health

  • April 11, 2016

The role of the MDI Biological Laboratory’s COBRE program in building successful scientific careers for junior researchers and enabling major new research endeavors was recently commended by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) in a request for funding to the U.S. Congress.

The NIGMS, one of the National Institutes of Health, referenced the work of assistant professor Voot Yin, Ph.D., which is supported by a COBRE grant, on limb and organ regeneration in zebrafish, and the MDI Biological Laboratory’s decision to pursue the development of ZF 143 as a therapy to accelerate the regeneration of heart tissue through Novo Biosciences, the institution’s first for-profit spinoff.

The NIGMS is the administrator of the COBRE (Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence) program, the goal of which is to support thematic multidisciplinary research centers in states that have historically had low levels of funding from the NIH. The MDI Biological Laboratory’s program provides support for junior scientists such as Yin on research to enhance tissue repair and regeneration and extend healthy lifespan.

“The fact that the NIGMS used our COBRE program, Voot Yin’s research and Novo Biosciences as an example of the success of the program in its budget request is a testament to the important work we are doing here — not only in terms of our mission of developing therapies for tissue repair and regeneration, but also in terms of building a biomedical research culture in the state of Maine,” said President Kevin Strange, Ph.D.

In 2013, the MDI Biological Laboratory was recognized as a Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) for its innovative research program in regenerative and aging biology and medicine. This designation is supported by a highly competitive $13 million grant that requires the continued transformative growth of the institution’s faculty and biomedical research capacity. If successful, the institution will have the opportunity to renew this grant for an additional $15 to 20 million over the next decade.

The national COBRE program blends cutting-edge research with career development activities that support young scientists in 23 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. As evidence of the program’s success at nurturing scientific talent, the NIGMS’ budget request cited the fact that nearly three-quarters of COBRE investigators nationwide go on to independent research careers.


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