NIH National Institute of General Medical Sciences Institutional Development Award (IDeA) Program

The purpose of the Institutional Development Award (IDeA) Program is to foster health-related research and increase the competitiveness of investigators at institutions located in states with historically low aggregate grant awards from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). To provide flexible support to build research capacity the NIH established the program known as Centers of Biological Research Excellence (COBRE). COBRE grants are designed to strengthen the institutional biomedical research capacity through flexible support to expand and develop biomedical faculty research capability and enhance research infrastructure through support of a multi-disciplinary center, led by a peer-reviewed, funded investigator with expertise central to the research theme of the proposal.

COBRE funds are used in part to support several existing junior investigators, as well as to recruit new faculty. Thus, mentoring by senior faculty is a critical component of this program. This enables the institution to establish a critical mass of investigators in a particular area and enhance their competitiveness for other traditional NIH support. Support is also provided for maintaining state-of-the-art core facilities as well as an active seminar series. It is also anticipated that, in some instances, the support through COBRE funds will facilitate the development of new disease-specific research centers or augment the capability of existing centers.

The application proposed the establishment of a Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) in the Molecular Basis of Host Response to Infectious Pathogens at The University of Vermont (UVM). It brings together talented senior mentoring faculty and highly promising junior faculty from eight departments and three colleges. Many of the faculty comes from the Immunobiology Program or Microbiology and Molecular Genetics. An immunologist Director (Dr. Ralph Budd), a microbiologist Co-Director (Dr. Gary Ward), a group of eleven senior mentoring faculty, and Internal and External Advisory Committees work closely together to provide a research and intellectual infrastructure for five junior faculty. The proposal places a central emphasis on the mentoring of five current junior faculty with the clear intent to nurture them to the level of obtaining R01-level funding. It will also recruit 3 additional new faculty, as well as develop a new Program Project Grant and a Training Grant to sustain the momentum of this group following completion of the COBRE funding.

The original Specific Aims of the COBRE proposal fell into two general categories:

Establish the research and intellectual infrastructure to support a University-wide center for the study of the immune responses to infectious pathogens and microbial pathogenesis.

  • Establish a mentoring program to support junior Immunology/Microbiology faculty that will include direct assignment of two senior faculty for each junior faculty, offer courses on grant writing, ethics in science, and career counseling.
  • Expand cores in Proteomics and Microarray that will benefit both the junior and senior mentoring faculty. Also, provide a new cage-washing autoclave and isolator bubble cages urgently needed for the animal facility to support the activities of the COBRE Program.
  • Establish a University-wide seminar series in Immunology/Infectious Diseases, as well as an annual retreat for all COBRE personnel, and Internal and External Advisory Committees.
  • Establish a mechanism of communication between basic scientists and clinicians that facilitates development of translational research.
  • Promote a stronger training environment for Graduate Education in Immunology/Infectious Diseases, both at the basic and clinical levels.

Support the research development of junior faculty as well as the recruitment of new faculty who will be the future leaders of the VIC.

  • An initial set of five junior faculty and their projects.
  • Three new faculty (Ph.D. or M.D.) will be recruited in the areas of:
    • Microbial pathogenesis
    • Virology/Infectious diseases
    • Immune response to infectious agents

COBRE Grants

A given institution can receive no more than three COBRE grants. UVM has distinguished itself in receiving three such awards.

  • Vermont Lung Center
  • Neuroscience Program
  • Vermont Center for Immunology and Infectious Diseases.