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Insight: Research Edition
Infectious Disease Program Selected as First University Supercluster
When the Supercluster Request for Proposals went out April 14, the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences was honored to have one of its Programs of Research and Scholarly Excellence – the Program in Infectious Disease – expanded and grandfathered in as Colorado State University’s first designated research Supercluster.
“Designation as a Supercluster is a great tribute to all the individuals who have worked so hard to create an internationally renowned program in infectious disease here at Colorado State University,” said Dr. Lance Perryman, Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
Superclusters are specially sanctioned interdisciplinary alliances that will allow CSU to focus on key research initiatives in topical areas where the University has demonstrated globally competitive expertise and potential for growth. Annual budgets are provided by the University to enhance the Superclusters collaborative efforts to obtain project goals of global significance.
Dr. Perryman noted that during the past several years, the College has seen a huge investment in the Program in Infectious Disease by the University, the College and numerous federal programs. This includes a $40 million grant to establish the Rocky Mountain Regional Center of Excellence for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases at CSU, and funding for construction projects such as the $30 million Regional Biocontainment Laboratory, the Bioenvironmental Research Building, new laboratory facilities for the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (D-Lab) and more. In the last Colorado legislative session, the D-Lab received $3.5 million in funds to initiate planning for the new Veterinary Diagnostic Center.
“There is international concern over the re-emergence of infectious diseases, as well as drug-resistant infectious diseases such as tuberculosis,” said Dr. Jeffrey Wilusz, Head of the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology, home to the majority of faculty members affiliated with the Infectious Disease Supercluster. “While Colorado State University has had a world-class program in infectious disease for many years, we are now seeing other entities – including government and private interests – take a renewed look at this issue and begin to put real resources behind it.”
The overall mission of the Infectious Disease Supercluster is to “effectively mobilize CSU entities and resources to address major global challenges in the infectious disease arena.” Major focuses of research include diseases caused by retroviruses, which cause AIDS and other diseases; mycobacterial infections including tuberculosis and leprosy; vector-borne diseases, which through insect transmission cause encephalitis, West Nile disease, dengue fever and other diseases; and blood parasites, which are a major cause of disease in developing countries. With the emergence of the potential for bioterrorism, additional urgency has been created in developing treatments and vaccines to many emerging infectious diseases with the potential to be weaponized.
Researchers with the Infectious Disease Supercluster collaborate closely with the Fort Collins-based branch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Funding for research is provided by the National Institutes of Health, Department of Defense, Homeland Security, USDA and other federal agencies. Researchers also are supported through private foundations, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
For more information about the Infectious Disease Supercluster, visit the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology Web site at www.cvmbs.colostate.edu/mip/.