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Research Spotlight

The Kansas Institute for Precision Medicine (KIPM) Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) $11.5 M grant is entering its 4th year of support!

Andrew Godwin, Ph.D.

Chancellors Distinguished Chair in Biomedical Sciences and Endowed Professor; Division Director, Genomic Diagnostics; Director of Molecular Oncology, Pathology & Laboratory Medicine; Deputy Director, The University of Kansas Cancer Center; Director, Biospecimen Repository Core Facility; Kansas Bioscience Authority Eminent

Medicine in the 21st century and beyond will rely on approaches to study both the patient’s lifestyle and family history as well as the molecular characteristics of their disease and match this information to best treatment options (i.e., precision medicine). The Kansas Institute for Precision Medicine (KIPM) Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) $11.5M grant is entering its 4th year of support via the National Institute of General Medicine and Science (NIGMS), which is an institute within the National Institutes of Health. This effort was started in 2014 when Andrew Godwin, Ph.D., Professor and Division Director for Genomic Diagnostics in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine met with then Executive Dean Robert Simari, M.D., to pitch his goal of establishing a research institute dedicated to innovating better ways to manage diseases. Godwin’s 30 year plus research career in cancer has focused on translational research – moving discoveries from the bench-to-bedside to improve patient care. In his 2015 State of the Union address, President Obama announced that he was launching the Precision Medicine Initiative — “a bold new research effort to revolutionize how we improve health and treat disease.” As a result, the disciplines of “translational research”; “molecular medicine”; “genomic medicine”; “individualized medicine”; “personalized medicine,” etc., now had a unifying name. “Over the next decade, precision medicine will be a part of common medical practice and many health care decisions will include establishing the molecular composition of a person’s disease,” said Dr. Godwin, who has also been the Deputy Director of the KU Cancer Center since 2013. 

In 2018, Godwin, the Chancellor’s Distinguished Chair in Biomedical Sciences Endowed Professor, partnered with Steven Soper, Ph.D., Foundation Distinguished Professor and Director of the NIH Biotechnology Resource Center of Biomodular Multiscale Systems for Precision Medicine on the KU-Lawrence campus and Alan Yu, M.B., B.Chir, Harry Statland and Solon Summerfield Endowed Professor of Medicine and Director of the Jared Grantham Kidney Institute at KUMC to develop their COBRE application. This team was successfully awarded the KIPM COBRE on first submission in January 2019. “Steve and Alan bring a wealth of research and mentoring experiences, which have helped to advance the KIPM’s mission,” shared Godwin. “We are focused on not only advancing the science but training the next generation of scientists and physician/scientists in this area of medical research.”

The KIPM is composed of an administrative core (supported by Ms. Jessica Leib and Ms. Cassaundra Shipman), three research cores, i.e., Biomedical Engineering (BME, coleaders Drs. Malgorzata Witek and Soper), Biobanking and Biomarker Validation (BBV, co-leaders, Drs. Harsh Pathak, Stephen Hyter, and Andrew Godwin), Quantitative Omics (QA, co-leaders Drs. Devin Koestler, Mihaela Sardiu, and Jeffrey Thompson) and the Patient and Community Engagement (PACE) resource led by Cheryl Jernigan and Hope Krebill. The KIPM can support five junior faculty at a time. These scientists received financial support (up to 3 years at $150,000/year), mentoring, and access to the research cores and the PACE resource. The first five junior faculty to officially join the KIPM were Shellie Ellis, M.A., Ph.D., Department of Population Health – “Implementing Precision Medicine: Determinants of Adoption in Community Oncology”; Deepika Polineni, M.D., MPH, Department of Internal Medicine – “Nasal Lavage Exsome Analysis Specifies Therapeutic Targets for Precision Treatment in Cystic Fibrosis”; Leonidas Bantis, Ph.D., Department of Biostatistics – “Discovery, Evaluation, and Clinical Decision Making Based on Non-Monotone Biomarkers for the Early Detection of Disease”; Ryan Funk, PharmD, Ph.D., Department of Pharmacy Practice - “Metabolic Markers of Disease Activity and Therapeutic Response in Autoimmune Arthritis”; and Gregory Gan, M.D., Ph.D., Department of Radiation Oncology - “The Role of MK2 pathway on head and neck cancer epithelial-tomesenchymal transition and tumor metastasis.” Most recently Scott Matson, M.D., and Shane Stecklein, M.D., Ph.D., have been added to the KIPM to replace those junior faculty who “graduated.” The KIPM was also awarded a $250,000 supplement in 2020 to support Jill Morris, Ph.D., to characterize plasma-derived extracellular vesicles from individuals at risk for Alzheimer’s Disease. The KIPM offers two $50,000 pilot grants annually which are supported by the KU Cancer Center and the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. The current Pathology supported KIPM pilot was awarded to Drs. Fariba Behbod and Harsh Pathak, to study intrinsic soluble factors with immunosuppressive properties in DCIS. In January 2023 the KIPM will add additional junior faculty to be part of the Center and to participate in the Phase II COBRE grant application due in May 2023.

For those interested in learning more about the KIPM, please go to the Kansas Institute for Precision Medicine website.

KU School of Medicine

University of Kansas Medical Center
Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine
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Kansas City, KS 66160
Phone: 913-588-7070
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