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Biomedical & Clinical Research

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On the Leading Edge

Where would we be without medical research?
If not for the tireless and diligent work of medical researchers over the past century, we would not have polio and measles vaccines, insulin treatments for diabetes, classes of antibiotics that treat a wide range of maladies, high blood pressure medications, improved treatments for AIDS, new microsurgery techniques, and increasingly effective cancer treatments. And those are just a few examples.

At UT Health Northeast, our physician researchers and staff are on the leading edge of important research initiatives into new treatments and therapies that could positively impact the lives of millions of future patients. Just last year, UT Health Northeast was awarded 69 research grants and contracts totaling $13.3 million, with the single-largest funding agencies being the prestigious National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Biomedical and clinical research projects at UT Health Northeast primarily focus on the following key areas.

Lung Injury
Scarring of lung tissue from infectious diseases such as various pneumonias and environmental injuries are often untreatable, affecting between 30,000 and 50,000 Americans each year. At UT Health Northeast, researchers are studying new, more effective ways to treat this problem that could mitigate the need for riskier and more costly treatments including surgery. The new treatment approaches include new drugs such as injections of protein fragments called peptides that could not only prevent lung scarring, but could be used against other diseases that cause scarring in the kidneys, the bowel and other internal organs. Other candidate treatments include agents that prevent the early stages of the scarring process between the lungs and the chest wall, thereby preserving lung function.

Infectious Lung Diseases
Tuberculosis, and other infectious lung conditions such as flu strains, still comprise one of the world’s leading causes of death. Our scientists are working to develop new tuberculosis and flu treatments that are vastly more effective than the ones used today. In fact, a newly identified species of the Norcardia bacterium was recently named after UT Health Northeast’s Richard Wallace, M.D., in recognition of his major contributions to the fight against human infections such as pneumonia. The newly discovered bacterium, Norcardia wallacei, was named after Dr. Wallace.

Innate Immunity
UT Health Northeast researchers are working on advancements in this area that could allow organ and tissue transplants to be safer and less likely to be rejected by hosts, strengthen immune functions in the elderly, and actually reverse immune deterioration that is often part of the aging process. UT Health Northeast investigators are attempting to develop new therapeutic targets through study of the intricate Human Complement System. Their work could lead to the development of new treatment approaches for a number of diseases including macular degeneration.

Thoracic Oncology
Currently, UT Health Northeast physician researchers are working on an exciting new development of small synthetic molecules that attack cancerous cells without harming surrounding cells that are normal and healthy. This discovery could lead to a potentially major breakthrough in cancer treatment.

Through all of this exciting new work scientists at UT Health Northeast continue to break new ground toward the life-saving treatments and therapies of tomorrow. They represent only a few illustrations of the array of important medical research now ongoing at UT Health Northeast.

Since state and national funding is limited, UT Health Northeast, like other leading research institutions, must continue to raise private funds and donations to be able to support and expand its groundbreaking research program.

To play a part in the innovative research at UT Health Northeast, consider joining our Research Council.

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