Two UTHSC Research Teams Receive CORNET Awards for Innovative Projects


Two research teams from the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center (UTHSC) have received the 2022 UTHSC Collaborative Research Network (CORNET)-Functional Genomics Award. Each team will receive $50,000 to support their new projects.

The CORNET Awards are a competitive intramural grant program funded by the UTHSC Office of Research to promote new lines of interdisciplinary team study. The program contains several different categories of UTHSC collaborations (UTHSC colleges, UT campuses, industry, regional, national and international). This latest round of funding was for UTHSC college-to-college collaborations, requiring eligible teams to include researchers from different colleges. The call for proposals called for projects that would “enhance understanding of the functional consequences of genomic variation in human disease” and “enhance campus capacity for the use of model organisms.”

The winners and the titles of their projects are:

  • “Genetic influence of ADIPOR1 variants on diabetes” – Djamel Lebeche, PhD, FAHA, FACC, professor in the Department of Physiology of the Faculty of Medicine; Ivan Gerling, PhD, professor in the medical school’s division of endocrinology, diabetes, and metabolism; and Junaith Mohamed, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Diagnostic and Health Sciences at the College of Health Professions. The team aims to analyze and map how mutations in a hormone receptor (ADIPOR1) lead to diabetes, generating data that could reveal new drug targets for prevention. “Taken together, the proposed studies will provide a rich resource that will link beta cell functional defects to a particular signaling/regulatory pathway(s), and identify important new molecular drivers, and potentially, candidate therapeutic targets mediating the variations. genes of adiponectin receptor 1,” said Dr. Lebeche.
  • “A Mouse Model of Ovarian Cancer Recapitulating the Human Disease Phenotype” – Junming Yue, PhD, Associate Professor in the Department of Pathology, College of Medicine; Wei, Li, PhD, Professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Pharmacy; and Wenjing Zhang, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Genetics and Genomics at the College of Medicine. The team aims to generate a new disease model that mimics the genetic alteration of ovarian cancer. “This CORNET award will help us develop our model and test preclinical drugs for the treatment of ovarian cancer and generate strong preliminary data for joint grant applications in the future,” said Dr. Yue.

Proposals had to describe how the results would be used in future applications for external funding. In the nearly seven years since the awards were established by Steve Goodman, PhD, Vice Chancellor of the Office of Research, CORNETs have generated more than $30 million in funding for new revolutionary initiatives. “CORNETs in functional genomics were suggested by UTHSC faculty in the first Research Operational Strategic Plan,” Dr. Goodman said. “I am so happy that we were able to make this important request come true and I want to congratulate the recipients.”


University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center


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