CoBRE Funding

The National Institutes of Health has awarded a five-year, $5.5 million research grant to the MBRCC to support a Phase III Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (CoBRE; NCRR: P30 RR032138/NIGMS: P30 GM103488) for Signal Transduction and Cancer, led by Laura F. Gibson, PhD, Deputy Director of the Cancer Center and the Alexander B. Osborn Distinguished Professor in Hematological Malignancies Research. Leaders of the shared resources supported by the Phase III CoBRE include Christopher Cuff, PhD, who oversee the Flow Cytometry Core; Karen Martin, PhD., leading the Microscope Imaging Facility and the Animal Models and Imaging Facility; Stephen Graber, PhD, in charge of the Protein Core; James Harner, PhD, heading up the Bioinformatics and Biostatistics Core; and William Petros, PharmD, who leads the Biospecimen Processing Core. These shared resources support diverse elements of research within the Cancer Center and across the WVU Health Sciences Center including collection of patient samples for inclusion in projects, evaluation of pre-clinical animal models, advanced microscopy and support of evaluation of data that is required prior to publishing results.

In addition to investigations at the Health Sciences Center, the third phase of the CoBRE has allowed the Cancer Center to develop research collaborations with other scientists across the University and elsewhere. The Phase III support follows the MBRCC’s P20 grant (P20 RR16440). The goal of the Phase II CoBRE grant was, in part, to build our basic research base in the MBRCC and to provide additional support for core facilities to serve both CoBRE investigators as well as others throughout the HSC and at other partner campuses. During the initial phase of the grant several junior faculty members were supported, while shared resources were initiated in Proteomics and Biostatistics, as well as ongoing support provided for the Flow Cytometry Core. This support was capitalized upon by senior investigators as well for new and renewal R01 projects.

Initial support provided by the Phase I CoBRE grant provided $1.5M dollars/year annual direct support. To garner CoBRE support junior faculty members wrote a 15-page grant in the style of an R01, which was reviewed internally and by our external advisors. Grants selected for funding were awarded to junior faculty at approximately $200,000/yr and they were given a 3-year commitment for funding, assuming that they made good progress towards extramural support (2 years if progress was poor; and 4 years if they were getting close). Subsequently, the faculty member wrote an R01 on their research project and if funded, they were graduated from the CoBRE grant and the CoBRE internal and external advisors would select a new proposal to support from the junior faculty applicant pool.

The MBRCC initiated a well-developed junior faculty mentoring program concomitant with the CoBRE award which has remained central throughout the evolution of the grant into Phase III, with several junior faculty members securing subsequent new R01 grants; and several new and renewal R01 awards by senior MBRCC faculty as well. In addition to R01 funding, CoBRE supported investigators have also secured peer-reviewed funding through the American Cancer Society (ACS), American Heart Association (AHA), and Department of Defense (DOD) demonstrating the broad impact of CoBRE support to the growth of our Cancer Center. 


Administrative core
PI: Laura Gibson, PhD –Professor, Pediatrics and MBRCC Program Leader, Tumor Microenvironment
Scot Remick, MD – Professor, Medicine and Director, Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center
Mike Ruppert, MD, PhD –Professor of Biochemistry, Jo and Ben Statler Chair for Breast Cancer Research, Co-Leader, Program in Breast Cancer Research
Michael Schaller, PhD – Professor, Chairperson for Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology


Cobre External Advisors
Jay Fox, PhD, Associate Dean of Research & Professor of Microbiology, at University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
Candace Johnson, Senior Vice President for Translational Research & Professor of Molecular Pharmacology, Buffalo, NY
Anton Wellstein, MD/PhD, Division Chief of Biochemistry and Pharmacology, Professor, Department of Oncology, Georgetown University, Washington, DC


Cobre Participants
"Role of ankyrin complexes in anoikis" Steven Fricsh, PhD
“Sumoylation and epigenetics” Alexey Ivanov, PhD
“Hef-1/Ajuba regulates Aurora kinases” Elena Pugacheva, PhD
“Cortactin and Head & Neck cancer” Scott Weed, PhD
“Myosin II and cancer cell migration” Rob Wysolmerski, PhD


Cobre Established Core Facilities
Flow Cytometry Chris Cuff, PhD
Microscope Imaging Facility Karen Martin, PhD
Animal Models and Imaging Karen Martin, PhD
Protein Purification Stephen Graber, PhD
Bioinformatics & Biostatistics Jim Harner, PhD
Biospecimen Processing William Petros, PharmD