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The National Institutes of Health award $10 million to Boise State University

The National Institutes of Health award $10 million to Boise State University for the Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) in Matrix Biology

When we think about how our bodies are made and what they do, we usually focus on organs, tissues and cells. But around, within, and between cells is a less understood material – what’s called the extracellular matrix – that also plays an essential part in making us what we are.

“The goal is to create a critical mass of matrix biology investigators and support biomedical research programs at Boise State, assuring that researchers at Boise State can contribute to the mission of the National Institutes of Health, addressing national health concerns that NIH recognizes as most important or most challenging,” said center director, Julia Oxford.

The Center supports the matrix Biology research pursuits in the following areas:

  • The role of the extracellular matrix in vascular biology and inflammation
  • The role the extracellular matrix in neuro-inflammation and how molecules of the extracellular matrix modulate blood-brain-barrier function
  • A systems-level approach to address mechanical, biological and structural components of articular joint degeneration during the progression of osteoarthritis in order to develop a comprehensive understanding and to facilitate improved care for patients
  • Parkinson’s disease and the role of extracellular matrix molecules in the brain
  • Structure-function studies of RNA binding proteins that regulate the expression of extracellular matrix molecules
  • The role of the extracellular matrix in cancer metastasis
  • Ligament and meniscus injury and healing
  • Liver fibrosis, NAFLD, and cirrhosis
  • Virulence factors that interact with extracellular matrix and new vaccine development
  • Development of novel scaffolds for three-dimensional tissue culture
  • Cold atmospheric plasma applications to modulate ECM and bacterial biofilms
  • ECM factors in Alzheimer’s disease
  • Mechanisms of antibiotic resistance

The long-term goal of the Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) in Matrix Biology is to establish, enhance, and actively advance a multidisciplinary research center focusing on improving our understanding of the role of the extracellular matrix in development, health, and disease, and contributing to the prevention, treatment, and cure for diseases of high priority. A critical mass of investigators has been established around the thematic focus of matrix biology that includes a diverse cadre from disciplines including biology, chemistry, physics, materials science, computer science, mechanical and biomedical engineering, and electrical engineering. The COBRE program has put Boise State in a position to make significant contributions to solutions addressing national health concerns. Core facilities support proteomics and metabolomics, histology, microscopy, imaging, and biostatistics/bioinformatics. Specific aims for the next five years include: 1) enhance and grow upon the critical mass of investigators established around the thematic multidisciplinary focus of matrix biology, 2) enhance biomedical research core capabilities, 3) grow research collaborations with existing programs, and 4) enhance research training opportunities.

Public Health Relevance Statement: The proposed growth and enhancement of the Center of Biomedical Research Excellence in Matrix Biology will have a lasting and significant impact on the success of young investigators as they establish their independently funded biomedical research programs. It will also strengthen the research environment and research culture at Boise State University. The center will enhance the impact of matrix biology investigation by biomedical researchers addressing challenges to disease diagnosis, prevention, and treatment through shared core facilities and mentored career development strategies. These efforts will contribute to the nationally recognized biomedical research center.