Move brings $10.5 million in annual funding from the National Institutes of Health
In the largest single recruitment in the history of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, the school has hired a team of 23 biomedical scientists from the American Red Cross national research and development program. The newly recruited researchers bring to the School of Medicine more than $10 million in annual NIH funding. The team is comprised of 15 fully-funded senior faculty members and eight junior faculty members, as well as post-doctoral fellows, graduate students, research assistants, lab workers, administrators and support staff. The move becomes effective July 1, 2004.
The researchers are employees of the Jerome H. Holland Laboratory for the Biomedical Sciences in Rockville, Maryland--the primary research facility for the American Red Cross. The group includes experts in stem cell research, vascular biology, biochemistry, microbiology, immunology, and experimental pathology. The new recruits will form the nucleus of the School of Medicine’s planned research center for the study of vascular and inflammatory diseases.
Research at the new center will investigate the biological systems that may lead to new treatments for heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis. “Joining the School of Medicine faculty is an exciting opportunity because it enables us to work directly with the physicians who provide the treatment,” says Dudley Strickland, Ph.D., a vascular biologist who will lead the new research center.
“It’s a tremendous win-win situation for the investigators and for the School of Medicine,” says Donald E. Wilson, M.D., M.A.C.P., Vice President for Medical Affairs, University of Maryland and Dean of the School of Medicine. “This is a unique opportunity to strengthen our institution and seek to bring new treatments from the laboratory bench to the bedside.”
“We were eager to recruit the entire team in order to provide a seamless continuation of their important research,” says Howard B. Dickler, M.D., Senior Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies, who led the recruitment effort to bring the research group to Baltimore. “This is a very interactive and collaborative group of scientists,” explains Dr. Dickler.
The capability to conduct stem cell research is but one of the many strengths the team will bring to the School of Medicine. “Understanding how blood cells develop from a single embryonic blood stem cell may open the door to new therapies with the potential to repair cells that have been damaged by disease,” says Dr. Strickland, who adds that the investigators will conduct a broad range of biomedical research.
Biochemists on the team are investigating the proteins involved in blood clotting in order to develop new treatments for people with hemophilia. The group’s immunologists are exploring the immune response in transplantation and gene therapy, and the vascular biologists are studying angiogenesis—the formation of new blood vessels. By better understanding angiogenesis, we hope to find ways to cut off the blood supply to certain cancers,” says Dr. Strickland.
The American Red Cross announced in November 2003 that it planned to downsize its research and development program by June 30, 2004, to focus available research resources on the core Red Cross mission of providing a safe and available blood supply.
“I am delighted that such a large group of our departing scientists has been offered this exciting opportunity to help establish a new research center within the University of Maryland School of Medicine,” says Judith Hautala, Ph.D., Vice President for Research and Development for the American Red Cross. “We at the Red Cross wish them every success.”
The University will lease the team’s current space in Rockville for one year until new laboratories are available in the University of Maryland, Baltimore Biopark, scheduled to open in July of 2005.
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