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Science in a Culture of Mentoring

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The Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation's ten-year COBRE, Science in a Culture of Mentoring (RR15577) has been transformative in providing the foundation for growth in Immunology research in our state. This COBRE provided mentoring and support to launch 12 independent research careers and the infrastructure has led to 10 non NCRR NIH institutes program or center grants as a direct result of this funding. OMRF and Oklahoma can now legitimately claim to be a Center for Immunology in the United States. Now, 16 COBRE eligible investigators present projects to be supported by mentoring and critical Core support. We have found that Mentoring and Core support is fundamental to our success. The Human Monoclonal Antibody (hmAb) Core grows out of COBRE supported scientific observations {Nature 2008), which allow rapid production of hmAbs after vaccination. With over 300 hmAbs already produced and many projects waiting, this Core is poised to provide unique research tools that should allow our COBRE Investigators to make major advances. The Serum Analyte and Biomarker Core expands on OMRF's strengths in human autoantibody detection, cytokine/chemokine measurements, epitope mapping and serum analyte development. It will provide access to the centralized generation of quality controlled data to assist projects in autoimmunity, gene-environment interactions, and human immune responses. The Immunophenotyping Core applies new whole blood multiparameter testing of detailed subsets of B cells, T cells, and other cell types. This Core provides centralized SOPs, tested reagents and experimental designs for complex human disease questions in many immunology-based projects. Finally, the Clinical Core provides patient/control identification, recruitment, phenotype characterization and human subjects training to COBRE investigators, with all 17 proposed pilot projects requesting use of this Core. The Pilot Project Core will identify, support and mentor COBRE eligible junior scientists through one-year pilot projects. Extremely productive in prior years, 17 applications were received for this cycle. We view these pilot funds as fundamental to our plans for the future of our Immunology focus in Oklahoma. The Administrative Core will provide mentoring teams and administrative support to 16 COBRE eligible junior scientists, implement and expand multidisciplinary enrichment programs, support collaborations between Oklahoma investigators, evaluate and manage the effectiveness of pilot projects. We are confident that with these additional funds OMRF and Oklahoma can have an outstanding Center of Immunology Excellence.
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