Two Va. research powerhouses come together on projects with seed fund

By May 23, 2017News

Inova Health System and University of Virginia are kicking off their new partnership with $450,000 in seed money to fund nine joint research projects geared toward better predicting, preventing and treating disease.

The seed fund helps launch a larger $112 million partnership that Falls Church-based Inova Health System announced six months ago with the Charlottesville university, including a plan to bring a regional medical school campus to Northern Virginia.

Nine teams of researchers from both the Inova Translational Medicine Institute, part of this Merrifield campus, and University of Virginia’s Translational Health Research Institute of Virginia will receive funding for projects geared toward better predicting, preventing and treating disease.

The initial $450,000 tab — being split by the two organizations — will fund nine teams of researchers from both Inova’s Translational Medicine Institute in Merrifield and UVa.’s Translational Health Research Institute of Virginia. They’ll cover a range of health topics, including studying biomarkers for heart disease and identifying three-drug combinations to treat ovarian cancer.

In one of the projects, Dr. Suchitra Hourigan from the Inova Translational Medicine Institute will partner with pediatrician Dr. Sean Moore from the University of Virginia School of Medicine to study the influence of the microbiome, or the bacteria that live inside the body, on childhood obesity. They will draw upon more than 350 samples gathered from both institutions’ genomic databases to conduct the study, said Dr. John Niederhuber, CEO of the ITMI.

This is also part of UVa.’s plan to seek a highly competitive National Institutes of Health grant, called the Clinical and Translational Science Award, he said. “This will demonstrate progress in how we are working together,” he said.

Inova and UVa. are planning a number of projects as part of their collaboration, including creating a new Global Genomics and Bioinformatics Research Institute, as well as a Darden School of Business-led accelerator to help translate more research to commercial companies.

The Inova Schar Cancer Institute and UVa. Cancer Center also plan to partner with the ultimate goal of achieving the National Cancer Institute’s Comprehensive Cancer Center designation.

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