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Institute for Molecular Medicine & Infectious Disease Strategic Plan

General Goals and Opportunities

The University-wide goals of the Drexel University College of Medicine Institute for Molecular Medicine and Infectious Disease will be to expand the extramural funding base, increase endowment support, foster collaborative research, enhance basic science faculty development, enhance the training and development of clinical-scientists, enhance the number and quality of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows training in infectious diseases and related disciplines, increase the extent and quality of inter-campus, inter-college and inter-departmental interactions, stimulate functional interactions across the basic and clinical science boundaries, expand the clinical enterprise, and establish informal and formal collaborative interactions with industry. Colleges and Schools that will participate and greatly benefit from the Institute include the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Engineering, the College of Medicine, the School of Biomedical Engineering and the Dornsife School of Public Health. The establishment of collaborative interactions with industry will stimulate the development of new ideas, discoveries, and inventions, and therefore increase the amount of dollars brought into the University from technology transfer. The development of new ideas, discoveries and inventions will also provide an opportunity for increased interactions with venture capitalists.

More specifically, the major goals will be (1) to develop and enhance the research enterprise in the area of infectious disease and host defense to include the formation and development of Research Centers of Excellence (RCEs) and Research and Training Programs (RTPs); (2) the formation of a clinician-scientist research jump-start program; (3) increase targeted faculty recruitment in the clinical and basic science research emphasis areas; (4) to enhance junior and senior faculty development; (5) to develop a new graduate program in molecular medicine; (6) to enhance graduate education; (7) to enhance medical student research; (6) to enhance postdoctoral research training; (8) to nurture inter-campus and inter-college interactions; (9) to develop targeted research mini-symposia; (10) to develop a PhD Molecular Medicine Scholars Program and an MD Research Scholars Program and (11) to increase program funding from the National Institutes of Health.

Rationale and Return on Investment (ROI)

The establishment of the Institute for Molecular Medicine and Infectious Disease greatly benefits the Drexel University community. The Institute, as a productive research enterprise, will enhance existing strengths at the University and provide new opportunities for growth in several different research areas of infectious disease. The Institute will provide a structure for senior investigators to develop collaborative research programs in important and eminently fundable areas of infectious disease. The Institute will provide an organized framework to guide the development of inter-campus, inter-college, and inter-departmental research initiatives at the University, stimulating functional interactions across the basic and clinical science boundaries and increasing the extent and quality of these interactions. The development of these collaborative research programs will substantially increase NIH grant support, therefore substantially increasing the indirect cost recovery at Drexel University. By actively participating in other Drexel University initiatives in the areas of applied biotechnology, cancer, neuroscience, immunology and molecular and human genetics, the Institute will provide strong support and greatly contribute to the success of these initiatives. The Institute will expand the clinical enterprise emphasizing research in the areas of inflammatory disease, neurodegenerative disease, organ transplantation-associated disease, sexually transmitted disease, viral-induced cancers, viral-induced immunodeficiencies. In addition a central research directive spanning many of these initiatives will include a relationship to women’s health and welfare. The Institute will enhance efforts to develop research and patient care activities in the area of infectious disease and will strive to increase community awareness with regard to infectious disease and bioterrorism. In particular, the Institute will facilitate research interactions with the external academic and industrial community. These interactions will provide increased visibility for Drexel University.

If the goals of the Institute are realized, the Return on Investment to Drexel University will include an expanded extramural funding base which will substantially increase indirect cost recovery, an increased number of high quality faculty and as a consequence increased creativity and productivity, strengthened faculty recruitment, recruitment of higher quality graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, new avenues of income based on stronger collaborative ties to industry and other academic institutions, and enhanced visibility in the research community and the public eye. For example, in the Center for Molecular Parasitology research currently underway is supported by an extramural NIH total cumulative research commitment of $6.5 million. In addition, in the Center for Molecular Virology and Neuroimmunology is supported by an extramural NIH total cumulative research commitment $7.5 million. And finally in the Center for Immunology and Vaccine Science, there exists a total cumulative research commitment of $7 million. Over the next five years, the goal will be to increase this overall cumulative extramural research commitment by more than 50% with similar gains achieved in the other established and developing RCEs. Additional plans are currently underway to continue to expand the research and development of the University with new NIH R01 applications, NIH P01 and U19 applications, as well as new training grant applications. The increase in research critical mass during the past several years, has played a key role in the recruitment of a new group of investigators that now comprise the new Drexel Institute for Biotechnology and Virology Research which has brought an additional $10 million in committed NIH grant support to the Department of Microbiology and Immunology and the College of Medicine. This will also fuel new recruitments in the area of virology and infectious disease in general. The funding profile proposed for the Institute will advance major faculty and resource developments in proteomics in the areas of infectious disease, cancer, neuroscience, and immunology and will also fuel the development of a new and exciting collaborative effort between infectious disease, immunology, and neuroscience and the new and developing technologies in the area of nanoscience. At present, the overall cumulative extramural research and development commitment to infectious and inflammatory disease across the College of Medicine and University at large is more than $60 million. With continued investment, this level of commitment can rise to more than $100 million within the next five years.

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Students walking down the hall at the Institute for Molecular Medicine and Infectious Disease at Drexel University College of Medicine.