Master of Science in Clinical Research

Success Stories

We need new success stories!

Former Clinical Research Curriculum Scholars have gone on to become independently funded investigators. They are our success stories. Please take time to review the abstracts of their funded grants below.

Grant Number: 7K23RR018784-02
Project Title: Prognostic Significance of Actuvated Akt/PKB in Cancer
PI Information: David, Odile

Abstract: DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): This K23 application proposes a carefully planned program of mentored patient-oriented research and concurrent multidisciplinary didactic training in the methods of clinical and laboratory investigation. The candidate plans a career as an independent clinical investigator focusing on patient-oriented research related to molecular determinants of chemoresistance and prognostic outcome. The Tulane/LSU General Clinical Research Center, including the GCRC Core Laboratory, will serve as the primary performance site and will provide research support. The Department of Pathology and the Tulane/LSU GCRC will provide structured mentoring. Dr. David's research plan entitled "Prognostic Significance of Activated Akt/PKB in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer: A Case-Control Prospective Study" will incorporate the basic principles of Epidemiology, Biostatistics, Community Health, Human Genetics and Molecular Medicine which have formed the basis of the Master of Public Health in Clinical Research degree that she is concurrently pursuing from the TU School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine under the auspices of the TU NIH-sponsored Clinical Research Curriculum Award Program (K30 Award). The proposal is predicated on the hypothesis that overexpression of activated, i.e. phosphorylated, Akt/PKB (phosphoAkt) is a pro-survival signal transduction mechanism in human non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) which may antagonize therapy-induced apoptosis. It is further postulated based on results of preliminary studies that loss or inactivation of the tumor suppressor protein PTEN permits unregulated Akt phosphorylation, reduced apoptosis and increased survival in NSCLC tumor cells. The specific aims are: 1)To demonstrate the predictive value of phosphoAkt and PTEN status at diagnosis with respect to therapeutic response and survival in newly diagnosed NSCLC patients and 2)To directly test the mechanistic roles of phosphoAkt and PTEN in chemoresponsiveness by differentially manipulating their expression with siRNAs in human NSCLC cell lines shown to be chemoresistant or chemoresponsive to Iressa (gefitinib).The objective of the study is to drive the development of targeted tumor-specific therapies for NSCLC. Dr. David will recruit and follow case and control subjects from a population of patients undergoing diagnostic bronchoscopy for suspected primary lung cancer. She will follow all study patients for up to 36 months. She will assess tumor response after two cycles of chemotherapy in all case patients who receive chemotherapy. The performance of this study will enhance and expand the activities of the GCRC Core Laboratory and the Lung Biology Group. This research program is central to Dr. David's career goals, which are to perform independent and original research that is relevant to identifying signal transduction proteins which may antagonize therapy-induced apoptosis in non-small cell lung cancer. To this end she will be provided the protected time and institutional resources necessary to achieve these goals.

Grant Number: 1K23AI068553-01A1
Project Title: Regulatory T Cells and HIV Disease
PI Information: Murphy, Holly A.

Abstract: DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Cell-mediated immune responses directed at HIV are critical determinants of viral containment. Hallmarks of chronic HIV infection are immune hyper activation and inefficient HIV-specific T lymphocyte responses. Emerging evidence suggests that FOXP3+-expressing CD4+CD25+ regulatory T lymphocytes (Treg) diminish tumor-specific and pathogen-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell mediated responses. Detailed studies by our lab revealed that Treg foster immune privilege in human ovarian cancer, where tumor-associated Treg number predicted survival. There is recent evidence suggesting that Treg inhibit HIV-specific immunity. Based on work by us and others, we hypothesize that Treg activity contributes to immune failure in chronic HIV infection. Further, successful viral suppression with antiviral therapy may require a concomitant Treg reduction. The proposed research will include a comprehensive study of Treg function in peripheral blood in relation to HIV-specific immunity and HIV viral replication among chronically HIV-infected, treatment naive individuals. Enrollment will be conducted at the Ryan White and state funded HIV Outpatient Clinic in New Orleans where over a third of HIV cases present late to care and commonly develop AIDS within the first year after diagnosis. We aim to test the hypothesis that increased Treg numbers and function in blood predict poor HIV-specific immunity and poor virologic control in treatment naive patients with chronic HIV. The cohort will be followed longitudinally in order to test if changes in Treg function and number during HAART predict the magnitude or durability of virologic and immunologic responses. Our long-term goal is to understand the effects of HAART on Treg function and how such changes relate to virologic control. Insights may lead to novel immune-based therapies, and means to predict the clinical response to HAART. This research will provide a foundation for the candidate to develop the multidisciplinary skills needed to establish herself as an independent clinical investigator in the field of HIV immunology. This work and training will be supported by and conducted under the supervision of Dr. Tyler Curiel, an expert in human immunology and Treg function.

Grant No: 1K23RR018929-01A2
Project Title: Aseptic Meningoenecphalitis in Adults PI Information: Hasbun, Rodrigo

Abstract: DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): This final revision of a previously submitted K 23 grant proposal includes a plan for mentored patient oriented research, using a new protocol shaped by preliminary data, and assures relevant didactic training to expand the candidate's capacity to become an independent investigator in cross-disciplinary clinical research. The clinical research proposal is focused on the aseptic meningoencephalitis syndrome (AMS), a clinical entity comprised of diverse group of etiologies of which some require urgent treatment. Due to lack of effective means in the acute care setting for differentiating patients with an urgent treatable condition from those at low risk for early complications, ASM remains a critical diagnostic challenge. Further, using present diagnostic methods, after standard evaluation nearly 70% of patients remain without an etiological diagnosis. The overall goal of this proposal is to establish a simple and cost-effective algorithm for early diagnosis and effective management of the AMS in patients presenting to the Emergency Department (ED). The primary objective is to derive and validate a clinical predictive index that will identify the subgroup at low risk of having an urgent treatable cause among AMS patients presenting to EDs, using selected New Orleans hospitals. The secondary objectives are: (1) to describe the changing and emerging epidemiology and natural history of the AMS using improved diagnostic methods to identify difficult-to-diagnose viral, rickettsial, mycoplasmal, bacterial, spirochetal, bartonellal, mycobacterial, fungal and parasitic pathogens; (2) to describe the neurocognitive and quality of life outcomes for selective subgroups of AMS; and (3) to correlate neuroimaging with neurocognitive findings in encephalopathic ASM patients who present with altered mental status and/or focal neurological findings. The candidate is committed to a career in clinical investigation of patients with central nervous system infections. To develop his capacity to engage in cross-disciplinary clinical research, his plan includes learning the principles of molecular diagnostics in clinical microbiology, neurocognitive testing and clinical correlations with neuroimaging through formal and informal training in molecular diagnostics, neuropsychology and neuroradiology. In addition, he will complete the NIH funded K30 Clinical Research Curriculum Award Program and obtain a Master's in Clinical Research degree at Tulane University.



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