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Minnesota Partnership for Biotechnology and Medical Genomics Awards Three Collaborative Research Grants for 2023

Mayo Clinic and University of Minnesota are pleased to announce three collaborative research grants totaling $5.82 million through the Minnesota Partnership for Biotechnology and Medical Genomics (MNP). MNP is funded by the State of Minnesota and provides support for innovative research conducted by collaborative teams from the University of Minnesota and Mayo Clinic. The initiative provides funding and support for the development of interventions, programs, and treatment approaches across the entire spectrum of biomedical and health care research with the ultimate goal of improving health outcomes for Minnesotans.

This year's awards support projects that seek to advance health outcomes in the areas of neuromodulation therapy, AI-assisted care delivery, and T cell therapy for the treatment of graft versus host disease (GVHD) and inflammatory colitis. 

Proposals were required to include a vision and plan for a large, highly-competitive center-level team application for funding within three years of the MNP award. Projects that lead to center-level funding offer great potential to promote interdisciplinary collaboration, accelerate the development of new therapies, and create more impactful and innovative research capabilities and infrastructure for the benefit of the people of Minnesota.

2023 Funded Projects

Minnesota Precision Neuromodulation Center (MinPeNCe) 

Theoden Netoff, Ph.D., University of Minnesota; Gregory Worrell, M.D., Ph.D, Mayo Clinic; Alex Opitz, Ph.D., University of Minnesota; Paul Croarkin, D.O., M.S., Mayo Clinic

Neuromodulation therapies, including deep brain stimulation, transcranial magnetic stimulation, transcranial alternating current stimulation, vagal nerve stimulation, and spinal cord stimulation, are clinically approved for treating various neuropsychiatric disorders. Unlike pharmaceuticals, these therapies have many customizable parameters, but little guidance exists on selecting the optimal settings, which may vary for each patient. This program will create MinPeNCe, a center that will enhance neuromodulation therapies by optimizing them with patient-centered innovation and outreach. Mayo and U of M faculty and staff will support clinical studies on major depressive disorder and epilepsy, and later develop infrastructure to support pilot projects exploring Bayesian Optimization, artificial intelligence, brain state tracking analytics, wearable devices, and molecular platforms for future dose finding studies. The goal of the center is to develop more equitable use of neuromodulation therapies for patients and support a more diverse scientific community.

ENTRUST AI: ENsuring the TRUSTworthiness of AI/ML Models to Optimize Continual Patient Safety

Genevieve Melton-Meaux, M.D., Ph.D., University of Minnesota; Pedro Caraballo, M.D., Mayo Clinic; Gyorgy Simon, Ph.D., University of Minnesota; Hongfang Liu, Ph.D., Mayo Clinic

Despite a rapid increase in applications of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) in society, the rate of adoption in medicine is lagging other areas. A critical factor to accelerate the adoption and the overall value of clinical AI is developing trust in the models, which hinges on reliable predictions and risk management processes. This project proposes to develop innovative informatics solutions and to apply and extend a consensus-driven risk management standard to ensure safety and trustworthiness of AI/ML for clinical decision support in clinical practice with individualized risk management. Funding of this project is aimed at increasing safety, trustworthiness, and fairness in AI-assisted care delivery, positioning ENTRUST to impact the health of Minnesota broadly and generate real world knowledge from Minnesota’s experience in clinical AI best practices.

Targeting CD103 with engineered cell therapy for the treatment of GVHD

Bruce Blazar, M.D., University of Minnesota; Saad Kenderian, M.D., Ch.B., Mayo Clinic

Development of acute graft versus host disease (GVHD) is the leading cause of death following bone marrow transplantation. Current treatments utilizing steroids are ineffective for about half of patients. The research team has found that the donor’s immune cells (T cells) utilize a protein referred to as CD103 to move to and locate the recipient's organs and attack them causing GVHD. Chimeric antigen receptor therapy (CAR T-cell therapy) engineers the patient's own immune cells to attack CD103 and potentially prevent GVHD. This project aims to further study how CD103 affects GVHD, and to develop and test CART103 in the treatment of GVHD. This project seeks to offer targeted treatments for GVHD with more precise and personalized approaches to treatment than currently available. 

These projects will receive translational expertise and other project-management support throughout the two-year funding period from the U of M Office of Discovery and Translation and the Mayo Clinic Office of Translation to Practice. These offices support the success of funded project teams toward the development of novel innovations. 

The next MNP funding opportunity will be announced in Q2 2023.

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About the Minnesota Partnership for Biotechnology and Medical Genomics (MNP)

MNP is a joint, state-funded program between the University of Minnesota and Mayo Clinic, Rochester. The MNP Program is jointly administered by the U of M Office of Academic Clinical Affairs, the Office of Discovery and Translation in the U of M Clinical and Translational Science Institute, and the Mayo Clinic Office of Translation to Practice. 

About the University of Minnesota

The University of Minnesota System, with campuses in Crookston, Duluth, Morris, Rochester and the Twin Cities, is driven by a singular vision of excellence. We are proud of our land-grant mission of world-class education, groundbreaking research and community-engaged outreach, and we are unified in our drive to serve Minnesota. Visit system.umn.edu.

About Mayo Clinic 

Mayo Clinic is a nonprofit organization committed to innovation in clinical practice, education and research, and providing compassion, expertise and answers to everyone who needs healing. Visit the Mayo Clinic News Network for additional Mayo Clinic news.

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