Jeffery Arterburn, principal investigator, discusses the program New Mexico IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence at a Research Rally. (NMSU photo by Darrell J. Pehr)
New Mexico State University
At a Research Rally today, New Mexico State University celebrated a program that champions biomedical research excellence in the state through innovative, supportive and sustainable research environments while building a network of lead scientists and educators at the state, regional and national level.
The program New Mexico IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence started its pilot phase in 2001 and expanded in 2009 thanks to a five-year $17.5 million grant awarded by the National Institutes of Health.
“This program was designed by researchers and driven by researchers, and I think that’s what makes it so special,” said Jeffery Arterburn, a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and also the principal investigator of the program. “Collaboration is absolutely essential. Out motto is that everyone gets to participate in the network. With respect to trust, we allow those different institutions and the individuals there to contribute to the network, to contribute to the program as best possible. As a whole, we are much, much greater than the sum of any individual parts.”
Most importantly, NM-INBRE builds a nationwide, multi-disciplinary research network through partnerships and collaborations with biomedical and health-related programs funded by NIH. The program also grows and sustains a competitive, biomedical research base through faculty development, student training, internships, scientific conferences and strong research collaborations. It funds biomedical research projects and prepares faculty and students for competitive participation in national research initiatives. The INBRE delivers a cohesive structure of undergraduate and graduate training programs to engage and prepare a diverse student population for career opportunities in education, industry and public health. Through the program, researchers can advance their understanding of diseases and treatments in areas such as cancer, infectious disease and immunity, brain and behavioral illnesses, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, as well as child and environmental health.
In the 11 years the program has been operating, NM-INBRE has funded, mentored and supported 44 faculty investigators across the state, and mentored and supported faculty investigators, resulting in 24 successful tenure applications.
“Our faculty’s success is gauged by their ability to win new competitive grants,” Arterburn said. “This really is a seed. We plant the seeds and those seeds grow. That is where all the institutions play an important role in how much everything grows and what opportunities come our way and what doors get shut. It’s critically important for us to work together.”
The program has generated almost $36 million in new research funding awarded to New Mexico institutions.
Annually, 100 students are actively involved in research laboratories at state institutions.
The program’s pilot phase, New Mexico Biomedical Research Infrastructure Network, was created to strengthen biomedical research in New Mexico’s institutions of higher education and to prepare faculty and students for participation in the research programs of the NIH. The network includes the partner institutions the University of New Mexico, Eastern New Mexico University, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology and New Mexico Highlands University. It also includes the non-profit National Center for Genome Resources in Santa Fe.
For its second phase, the program has expanded the network of partner institutions to include San Juan College in Farmington and The Dialysis Clinic, Inc. of Albuquerque. The Dialysis Clinic is currently working on a community-based research project that could identify possible genetic, environmental and cultural interactions that negatively affect health conditions in Native Americans in a study called the Zuni Health Initiative.
The $17.5 million funding was provided by the National Center for Research Resources, a division of the NIH, as part of a competitive $122 million award to IDeA-eligible states, which are states that historically have not received significant NIH funding.