MDI Biological Laboratory

COBRE Research

The MDI Biological Laboratory’s Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) program supports the set-up and growth of innovative, state-of-the-art biomedical research centers at institutions in IDeA (an NIH program that strengthens research capacity in states that historically have had lower levels of NIH funding) states via three award phases, each lasting five years.

COBRE phases I and II focus on building capacity in investigators, developing their research to be competitive for external research funding. MDIBL is currently in the last year of Phase II. In Phase III, funding supports the institution in maintaining research cores developed during the first two phases to continue building a robust, multidisciplinary research environment. 

Our Successes

The MDI Biological Laboratory’s COBRE award has two specific aims:

  1. Create a Center of Biological Research Excellence focused on addressing fundamental questions in regenerative biology using diverse animal models and comparative biology approaches.
  2. Provide junior faculty with enhanced resources and mentoring activities that will facilitate their transition to independence.

Over the first two phases of the MDI Biological Laboratory COBRE award, nine investigators have been supported to develop their research to the point of being competitive for indepedant funding opportunities.

Current COBRE Project Leaders

Previous COBRE Project Leaders

Sam Beck
Disruption of CpG Island-Mediated Gene Regulation and Chromatin Architecture in Progeria and Aging

James Coffman
Stress, Genomic Instability, and Loss of Regenerative Capacity with Age

Vicki Losick
The molecular mechanisms regulating wound-induced polyploidy

Sandra Reiger
Regulation of Cutaneous Axon Regeneration by Wound-derived H2O2

Dustin Updike
The Role of Germ Granules in Maintaining Cellular Self-renewal and Totipotency

Voot Yin
Genetic Analysis of Natural Reprogramming during Regeneration

COBRE Pilot Project Funding

Previous Pilot Projects:

Rosemary Smith, Ph.D.
A COBRE pilot project grant was awarded in 2019 to Dr. Rosemary Smith of the University of Maine to develop a prototype device to detect diabetic neuropathy. The theme of Professor Smith’s research is the application of interdisciplinary knowledge to engineer new molecular and cellular measurement and/or manipulation methods and tools. Her projects typically involve micro and nano-fabrication of devices and instruments, materials process engineering and microfluidics.

Peripheral neuropathy is a diabetic complication and a growing health concern.  To detect early-stage diabetic peripheral neuropathy in skin and underlying tissue, Dr. Smith developed a microneedle electrode array with optimized electrode material and design. Her team validated their device using a mouse model and assembled microneedle electrodes into arrays using 3D printing and custom printed circuits. COBRE Pilot funding prepared Dr. Smith’s team to pursue commercialization of the device and allowed them to test it on mouse diabetes models  Results acquired under this pilot award were used to advance the commercialization of the device, through funding from an National Science Foundation (NSF) Phase 1 Small Busines Techonology Transfer (STTR) grant, awarded June 2020. This award will support continued preclinical mouse studies and extensive data analysis required to determine diagnostic relevance in humans.

Davis Center Faculty