Multidisciplinary Value Program Boosts Team Science to Address Kentucky Health Challenges

Six teams of researchers and physician scientists have become the inaugural recipients of pilot funding from the new Multidisciplinary Value Program (MVP), which aims to boost team science that will impact University of Kentucky patients and wellbeing in the Commonwealth. Each MVP team will launch a new clinical trial that brings cutting-edge science to patients and communities.

Kentucky has many of the worst health outcomes in the nation, and addressing the multidimensional underpinnings of these disparities requires a range of expertise that bridges research, patient care, education, and community engagement. The MVP provides a new opportunity and up to $100,000 in pilot funding to support innovative, multidisciplinary research teams that will develop investigator-initiated clinical studies at UK. It is the institution's first research funding program that requires an inclusion of clinical trials. 

Led by Dr. Robert DiPaola, dean of the UK College of Medicine, the MVP is also supported by the Office of the Vice President for Research, Lisa Cassis, PhD, and the UK Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS). The program builds upon the existing translational research capacity of the institution by bridging areas of strength across disciplines and clinical specialties.

Video produced by UK Public Relations and Marketing.

"We launched this pilot award funding in collaboration with the vice president for research and the CCTS pilot funding infrastructure with the plan that researchers, combined with physician investigators or health care workers, could form a clinical trial that brought their science to the clinic," DiPaola said.

He explains that the program conceptualizes "value" as benefit to the patients and communities served by UK.

"This is an effort to bring together multiple disciplines—especially research and strong areas of science — with clinical areas, in the form of clinical trials so that patients actually have access to the science and discoveries that are happening," DiPaola said.

The MVP award process is facilitated by the pilot funding infrastructure of CCTS, which seeks to accelerate the pace of discoveries for human health and focuses specifically on the health challenges of Kentucky and Appalachia.

"There are many health challenges that dominate the landscape of Kentucky, including cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and substance abuse," said Dr. Philip A. Kern, director of the CCTS. "The best efforts to address these pressing problems will not come from the lone researcher in his lab, but from a collaborative team where each member builds on each other’s special expertise. The MVP program accomplishes this by building teams that include physicians, basic scientists, and other health professionals with a goal of exploring new ideas, soundly rooted in science, that have a high likelihood of becoming the therapies of the future."

The collaborative nature of the leadership and faculty, combined with the strength of clinical care and research (including a "trifecta" of federally-funded centers on aging, cancer, and translational science), make UK an ideal environment for such initiatives, according DiPaola, who joined the UK College of Medicine in March 2016.

Priority for MVP pilot funding is given to teams that include at least one member with strongly funded research, a physician investigator, relevance to the health challenges and disparities faced by Kentucky, and a clear plan toward future federal funding grant submissions. The hope is that research conducted with MVP pilot funding will be leveraged to garner additional external funding.

"This program is a novel model that can not only do great things for UK research, but also save lives, and allow our citizens to participate in research that will improve their lives," Cassis said. "I am especially excited about the potential for these initial teams, supported through this mechanism, to develop into broader groups of interdisciplinary teams that are competitive for large grant mechanisms. These large applications give us the best chance of having the most significant impact on these health disparities that our citizens experience."

The initial call for applications received 31 letters of intent, which DiPaola sees as evidence of UK's strong research enterprise and the readiness of its clinical care teams to advance discovery and impact patient care.

Due to the success of the first round of applications, the MVP issued a second request for applications in August 2016. Applications are currently under review and funding decisions will be announced in January 2017.  

2016 MVP pilot funding awardees include the following projects and teams: 

Improving addiction treatment for hospitalized opioid dependent patients with infective endocarditis

Principle Investigators:  Dr. Laura Fanucchi and Sharon Walsh
Team Members:  Dr. Michelle Lofwall, Jason Joy, Terri Powell, Diana Norkus, Paul Nuzzo, Kristina Tucker, Dan Cleland and Barbara Davis

Early intra-articular anti-inflammatory treatment after ACL injury and reconstruction: a randomized clinical trial

Principal Investigators:  Dr. Christian Lattermann and John Abt
Team Members: Peter Hardy, Cale Jacobs and Heather Bush 

The INFUSE trial - Intervening with Platelet Transfusions in Septic Patients

Principal Investigators:  Dr. Susan Smyth and Dr. Zhenyu Li
Team Members:  Sidney Whiteheart, Peter Morris, Xiang-An LI, Hiroshi Saito, Richard Charnigo, Binggang Xiang and Travis Sexton 

Treatment of FUS-related ALS with Betamethasone

Principal Investigators: Dr. Edward Kasarskis and Daret St. Clair
Team Members:  Luksana Chaiswing, Haining Zhu, Robert (Tony) English, Melody Ryan, Markos Leggas, Meghann Bruno and Meha Joshi  

Altered Lipid Metabolism as a Novel Target for Colon Cancer Treatment

Principal Investigators:  Dr. Mark Evers and Tianyan Gao
Team Members:  Dr. Gaurav Goel, Dr. Ching-Wei Tzeng, Dr. Peter Hosein, Dr. Sean Dineen, Dr. Phillip Desimone, Dr. Sandra Beck, Dr. John Hourigan, Yekaterina Zaytseva, Dr. Eun Lee, Sivkumaran Theru Arumugam and Heidi L. Weiss 

Assessing effects of electronic cigarettes on airway resistance in asthma

Principal Investigators:  Dr. Mehdi Khosravi and Lu Yuan Lee
Team Members:  Paul Bryan Collins, Richard Kryscio, Thomas Kelly and Kristin Ashford 

These teams will be featured on an upcoming MVP website, which will also include updates on the progress of their research.

Questions about the MVP program can be directed to Elodie Elayi, research development director of the CCTS, at or 859-323-7939.

If you are interested in sponsoring an MVP team, please contact Elodie Elayi at the information above. 


UK is the University for Kentucky. At UK, we are educating more students, treating more patients with complex illnesses and conducting more research and service than at any time in our 150-year history. To read more about the UK story and how you can support continued investment in your university and the Commonwealth, visit #uk4ky #seeblue


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