NIH awards LSU $11.5M to establish pulmonary research center

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Dr. Jeyaseelan
Dr. Samithamby Jeyaseelan, professor in the Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine's Department of Pathobiological Sciences, will serve as principal investigator of the newly established Center for Lung Biology and Disease. (Courtesy of LSU CVM)

Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine has been awarded more than $11.5 million in funding over five years from the National Institutes of Health to launch the Center for Lung Biology and Disease. Dr. Samithamby Jeyaseelan, professor in the Department of Pathobiological Sciences, will serve as principal investigator, and Rhonda Cardin, PhD, associate dean for research and advanced studies, will serve as co-investigator.

The center will augment research on campus into the molecular and cellular immunological mechanisms of pulmonary diseases, according to a Feb. 4 LSU press release. The overarching goal of the CLBD is to gain new insights into the pathogenesis of lung diseases that will guide improved strategies for treatment and prevention.

The funding comes from the NIH Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence program, which seeks to promote the initiation and development or expansion of unique and innovative biomedical and behavioral research centers at institutions in states that historically have received low levels of support from NIH, including Louisiana.

"COBRE brings national recognition to the LSU SVM and will serve as a powerful engine to expand our research portfolio in pulmonary disease as it relates to human health and comparative medicine," said Dr. Joel Baines, LSU veterinary school dean, in the release. "We are proud of all of our faculty associated with this prestigious grant. This award mechanism will also provide exceptional research and funding opportunities to veterinarian-scientists to do high-caliber research using COBRE resources."

According to the NIH, COBRE support comes in three sequential five-year phases. The grant for the CLBD is renewable for two additional five-year terms, for a total of more than $32 million. As the center's director, Dr. Jeyaseelan has assembled a team of investigators from the veterinary school's Department of Pathobiological Sciences and Department of Comparative Biomedical Sciences to address immunological mechanisms contributing to numerous infectious and noninfectious pulmonary diseases.

The specific objectives of the center are to create a nationally recognized center of excellence in pulmonary diseases, improve research infrastructure to enhance competitiveness for extramural grants, and promote the independent careers of junior investigators.

Although the theme of the CLBD is pulmonary disease, the center is open to all researchers on campus and in the state of Louisiana.