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Second Group of IUPUI Research Centers Receive Signature Center Designation


June 16, 2011

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Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) has selected its second cohort of research centers to receive IUPUI Signature Center designation. This recognition is in response to the achievements realized by these centers upon completion of their 3-year funding under the Signature Centers Initiative Grant Program.

“I am very pleased with the success of the Signature Centers Initiative,” said Uday Sukhatme, IUPUI Executive Vice Chancellor and Dean of the Faculties. “It is a cornerstone of the IUPUI Academic Plan. It boosts the research infrastructure via substantial seed funding for stimulating new directions of multidisciplinary research. The initiative has played an important role in enhancing research and increased the research funding on the IUPUI campus from about $260 million in 2006 to over $400 million in 2010 - an excellent return on investment!”

The selected centers are:

•Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) Center of Indiana: This center evaluates the effectiveness of mental health programs and prepares mental health specialists to implement effective interventions that assist families dealing with mental illness. The center also serves as an advocate for public policies that encourage implementation of effective and affordable support services for people with mental illness and their families.

“The ACT Center has been very involved in helping programs across the state to provide the best treatments to help people recover from severe mental illnesses,” said Michelle Pensec Salyers, associate professor of psychology and director of the ACT Center. “One of the most recent accomplishments is a cost-effective way to measure how well programs are following a specific model of care that has been very effective. Another big area for us has been developing methods to help reduce staff burnout as mental health workers are experiencing a great deal of pressure in the current economic situation. We are developing tools to help support them and to be able to maintain a happy and healthy workforce.”

•Transportation Active Safety Institute: This institute advances the use of active systems in automotive safety. Active safety systems can be effective in both preventing crashes and in saving the lives of drivers and passengers involved in accidents. Faculty with expertise in vehicle control, sensor networks, wireless communications, and physiology collaborate to develop new and effective systems that bridge the gap between research and the development of consumer applications that enhance the safety of automobiles.

TASI is the only academic research center in the U.S. dedicated to transportation and vehicle active safety research, said Yaobin Chen, Ph.D., chair and professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, in Purdue School of Engineering and Technology. By collaborating with its academic and industry partners, TASI has conducted research projects funded by federal and state agencies as well as industry with more than $4 million in funding, he added, noting “By using TASI’s research capabilities (driving simulator and vehicle active safety system testing facility), TASI faculty, research staff and students have worked on research projects to address critical issues related to driver behavior, teen and older driver safety, impaired driving, driver-vehicle interactions in autonomous driving and cost-benefit analysis for advanced safety systems.”

•Vascular and Cardiac Center for Adult Stem Cell Therapy: This center conducts multidisciplinary research aimed at repairing and enhancing the function of cardiovascular tissues. Translation of adult stem cell research findings to diseases of the cardiac and vascular systems allows researchers in this center to explore novel approaches to repairing cardiac and vascular damage and improving the function of the vascular system

“We are very pleased that IUPUI has chosen the Vascular and Cardiac Center for Adult Stem Cell Therapy (VC-CAST) as a flagship program, by designating VC-CAST as an IUPUI Signature Center,” said Keith L. March, MD, PhD, and professor of Medicine, Physiology, and Biomedical Engineering, and director of VC-CAST. “As one of the leading centers in the world advancing adult stem cells into patient therapies to treat debilitating diseases such as emphysema, diabetes, stroke, Parkinson’s disease and heart failure, we are especially excited by the designation because we believe this will help to attract more collaboration, funding and patients interested in participating in critical clinical trials.” We are actively working with multiple international collaborators to help patients in Indiana and around the world as quickly as possible,” March said.

These three new centers receiving IUPUI Signature Center designation have reached prominence for their unique and distinctive research and scholarly activity. These centers bring to eight the number of the centers that have received IUPUI Signature Center designation.

Three new centers have also been selected out of a pool of 19 applications to receive 3-year funding under the Signature Centers Initiative Grant Program. These centers are:

•Center for Pancreatic Cancer Research: The mission of the Center is to promote a better understanding of the critical pathways and molecular mechanisms involved in pancreatic tumor development, to stimulate the consistent and productive exchange of ideas between clinicians and basic scientists, to facilitate external funding for its members, to disseminate information across the Indiana medical and research community, and improve pancreatic cancer patient outcomes. The center, comprised of basic, translational and clinical researchers, represents the continuum of disease research from biological/molecular investigation to clinical trials.
•Center for Brain Rehabilitation, Advanced Imaging, and Neuroscience: The research mission of the center is to integrate and further develop neuroimaging and behavioral measurement technologies to provide leading edge integrated interdisciplinary methods for examining the natural evolution, individual differences, and response to rehabilitative interventions in acquired brain injury. The center brings together an interdisciplinary team of clinical researchers to (1) advance basic science and clinical knowledge to the next level of integration, (2) translate the knowledge gained directly into clinical care for improved patient outcomes, and (3) use the newly integrated knowledge to drive the leading edge of future research.
•Three-Dimensional Imaging of the Craniofacialdental Complex Center: The primary mission of the center is to develop long term intellectual and financial support for strong, interdisciplinary, imaging studies related to a better understanding and quantification of 3-dimensional normal and abnormal growth, development, function, esthetics and treatment of the hard and soft tissues of the craniofacialdental complex. The secondary mission of the center is to assess the airways of patients with sleep disordered breathing and the responses to therapies. The tertiary mission is to become the regional and national point of information and service for patients and health professionals involved with orthodontic and orthopedic tooth movement, facial esthetics, function, airways, and imaging.

The Signature Centers Initiative was begun in 2006 by Sukhatme to create nationally and internationally recognized research centers that are uniquely identifiable with IUPUI, and make a difference in the real world.