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Translational Molecular Discoveries, an FIU Emerging Preeminent Programwill integrate the basic and applied research efforts of faculty members across disciplines for the benefit of human health and wellness.

The program will include focus areas on:

  • Drug discovery to meet urgent needs for new therapies against cancer, drug-resistant infection and neurodegenerative diseases
  • Predictive biomarkers for personalized medicine and wellness
  • Control of mosquito-borne diseases by novel molecular approaches

Impacts

Program faculty have $24 million in active external research funding. In addition to federal grants from the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation and Department of Defense, faculty have received research support from private donors and from organizations including the Community Foundation of Broward, Michael J. Fox Foundation and American Lung Association.

Our interdisciplinary researchers are working toward solutions to critical health challenges facing South Floridians and people around the world.

  • Antibacterial Drug Discovery

    Existing and emerging "superbugs" resistant to present-day antibiotics have become a global health crisis. TMD has a core group represented by the Yuk-Ching Tse-Dinh, Fenfei Leng, and Kalai Mathee conducting NIH-funded research on antibacterial drug discovery. These TMD investigators have pending and awarded patents relevant to new antibiotic discovery to treat multi-drug-resistant bacteria. One TMD faculty member, Prem Chapagain, is conducting research on infectious agents such as Ebola virus, as well as on computational drug design and screening by high-throughput molecular docking.

  • Predictive Biomarkers for Health and Wellness

    A number of TMD faculty are developing novel biomaterials and biosensors that can be used to monitor stress response, tumor progression and cell-drug interactions. These research efforts can lead to biosensors that will be used to monitor predictive biomarkers for personal health and wellness. Shekhar Bhansali is developing a test for real-time detection of cortisol, a stress hormone. He collaborates with Joong-ho Moon, a polymer chemist who can design the required biomaterials. Other TMD faculty with expertise in biomaterials and biosensor development include Jin He, Konstantinos Kavallieratos, Raphael Raptis and Yi Xiao.

  • Biospecimen Collection

    FIU faculty have started a human subject biospecimen collection program to be used for study of predictive biomarkers in South Florida population groups. Initial samples are glioblastoma tumors removed during surgery at the Miami Neuroscience Center at Larkin Hospital. Jeremy Chambers is leading a project focused on tumor specimens collected from surgery at Baptist Health South Florida. Research by TMD faculty related to predictive biomarkers for tumor progression and novel chemotherapy regimens has the potential of greatly improving treatment outcomes for South Florida cancer patients.

  • Health Promotion in Florida

    TMD faculty participant Tami Thomas is chairing the "Building Better Health for Florida Families" Advisory Board, which oversees health promotion efforts across Hendry, Glades and Okeechobee County and coordinates efforts by various entities such as FIU's Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing & Health Sciences, the Florida Department of Health and the Miami-Dade County Commission. Initial efforts have focused on vaccination and cancer prevention. Tami Thomas will be teaming with Yuan Liu, Kalai Mathee and Giri Narasimhan to investigate DNA damage/repair and oral microbiomes as predictive biomarkers for HPV-associated cancer risks.

  • Fighting Mosquito-Borne Diseases

    The Miami area may be especially vulnerable to the spread of mosquito-borne diseases. TMD's Fernando Noriega is a world-recognized leader in the study of the hormonal systems that regulate mosquito reproduction. Matthew DeGennaro is developing molecular tools for the investigation of mosquito host detection. Laura Serbus is investigating the influence of symbiotic bacteria on viral populations. Jun Li is discovering novel vaccines and small molecules that can block malaria transmission. Their NSF and NIH funded research is leading to novel molecular approaches for controlling the spread of mosquito-borne diseases.

Team

Faculty in the Translational Molecular Discoveries program include current Biomolecular Sciences Institute members from the College of Arts, Sciences & Education, the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine, the Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work and the College of Engineering & Computing. In addition, the program partners with FIU's Advanced Mass Spectrometry Facility, the International Center for Tropical Botany at The Kampong and the Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing & Health Sciences.

College of Arts, Sciences & Education

Chemistry and Biochemistry


Biological Sciences


Physics


College of Engineering and Computing

Biomedical Engineering


Electrical and Computing Engineering


Computing & Information Sciences


Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine

Cellular Biology and Pharmacology


Human and Molecular Genetics


Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing & Health Sciences


Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work

Environmental Health Sciences