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Bridge Funding Grants Are Announced

Researchers at New York Medical College (NYMC) have been selected to receive awards under the Fall 2017 round of the Touro and College and University System (TCUS) Bridge Funding Grant Program. Bridge grants are designed to sustain research projects between larger grant funding. The recipients’ projects were reviewed as part of a rigorous peer review process, as well as recommendations by the TCUS Biomedical and Health Sciences Research Council.

Christopher S. Leonard, Ph.D. headshot   Christopher S. Leonard, Ph.D., professor of physiology, was selected for his work on “Synaptic Modulation of Mesopontine Cholinergic Neurons.” “Our research program is aimed at understanding how the neuropeptide orexin regulates neuronal activity in brain circuits controlling sleep/wake patterns, motivation and emotion. In addition to learning new information about how the brain regulates these states, our studies may also reveal new therapeutic targets for treating narcolepsy and its co-morbid mood disorders,” explained Dr. Leonard. “This bridge award provides critical sustaining support for our lab and will enable us to generate critical new preliminary data. I am very grateful to the Touro and New York Medical College leadership for prioritizing this type of support.”
Penghua Wang, Ph.D. headshot  

Penghua Wang, Ph.D., assistant professor of microbiology and immunology, was also selected for bridge funding for his research, “UBXNs as Regulators of Antiviral Immunity.” “Both herpes simplex virus 1 and Chikungunya virus are human pathogens of public health significance. The research investigates the physiological roles of a family of poorly understood genes, UBXNs, in controlling HSV-1 and CHIKV infection and disease pathogenesis in mice via genetic, molecular biological, biochemical and immunological approaches, and may ultimately contribute to development of vaccines and therapeutics,” explained Dr. Wang. “New York Medical College is strengthening its research, which, I strongly believe, is an important component of advanced medical education.”

Just as Dr. Wang was selected for a bridge grant, he learned the good news that he received a five-year National Institutes of Health Research Project Grant (R01) totaling $2,016,375 for “The Role of UBXNs in Antiviral Immunity.”

Salomon Amar, D.D.S., Ph.D., provost for biomedical research and chief biomedical research officer and chair, Biomedical and Health Sciences Research Council, professor of pharmacology and microbiology and immunology at NYMC and professor of dental medicine at Touro College of Dental Medicine at NYMC, said “Dr. Wang’s RO1 grant is the best example of the bridge program working, although this happened sooner than anyone expected.” The Council is now considering if the funding will be pooled for the next round of funding expected in the spring or if they will reconsider previous applications.

Dr. Amar, who oversaw the selection process, stressed the importance of this funding strategy. “Faculty retention is a major priority for me. It is imperative for our investigators to be able to maintain their research and I am confident we will see a great return on our investment,” he said.