Nemours Center of Cancer and Blood Disorders Awarded $10M COBRE Grant

Written by Vicky Funanage, PhD
Operational Vice President, Research

Staff of new Sickle Cell COBRE

Staff of new Sickle Cell COBRE

Please join me in congratulating Marie Stuart, MD, of the Nemours Center of Cancer and Blood Disorders in securing what I believe to be the largest grant award to Nemours: a 5-year, $10.2-million NIH COBRE (Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence) grant to establish the Delaware Comprehensive Sickle Cell Research Center.

This exciting new center, a consortium between Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children and Delaware State University, one of two historically black colleges in the state of Delaware, builds upon strengths in Biomedical Research, clinical care, and recent faculty recruitments to create a sustainable infrastructure supportive of target investigators and cutting-edge research in sickle cell disease.

Two of the target investigators, Robin Miller, MD, and Steven Reader, PhD, are from Nemours, and the other target investigator, Dula Man, PhD, is from Delaware State University. Dr. Miller’s project, under the mentorship of Dr. Stuart, involves a phase I/II clinical trial on the use of the n-3 omega fatty acids for relief of pain and inflammation associated with sickle cell disease.

Dr. Reader’s project with mentor, Anne Kazak, PhD, will modify the Psychosocial Assessment Tool developed by Dr. Kazak to screen for risk in the pediatric population with sickle cell disease. The Data Management Core, led by E. Anders Kolb, MD, with co-investigator, David West, MD, will work to link advances in Health Informatics and electronic data recording with clinical research to improve patient outcomes. In addition, the grant includes a three-year pilot study by Divya Moodalbail, MD, of Nemours, whose research will try to identify children most at risk for developing sickle cell-related chronic kidney disease, an initial step in preventing or slowing the progression of long-term kidney damage.

The overall Center Organization and Management Plan, led by Dr. Stuart and Program Administrator Heesun Newlin through an administrative core, will incorporate core facilities and resources funded through the NIH Institutional Development Award (IDeA) network, including the Center for Pediatric Research COBRE, directed by Thomas Shaffer, PhD, and the Delaware INBRE (IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence).

This grant award would not have been possible without strong institutional support, in particular from Jay Greenspan, MD, and Dr. Kolb, who identified the need to develop a strong sickle cell clinical research program at Nemours and recruited Dr. Stuart to lead it. This support, combined with federal dollars through the COBRE Program, will ensure an outstanding program that will meet the ongoing needs of infants, children, and adolescents with sickle cell disease and their families in Delaware, and it is a tribute to this excellent team that this grant was awarded in what is currently a very competitive funding environment.