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Congratulations to Caterina Gallippi, Ashley Brown, and Rahima Benhabbour for receiving National Institutes of Health (NIH) Research Project Grants (R01s) this summer. R01 grants are the oldest grant process used at the NIH, and they are extremely competitive to obtain. This grant type is awarded for independent research and provides financial support for up to five years for ideas that have a direct benefit for public health.


written by Kathleen Clardy for Joint BME Communications


Caterina Gallippi

R01s for Kidney Monitoring, Determination of Breast Tumor Malignancies, and a Training Grant to Prepare Students with Research and Commercialization Skills in Ultrasound

Caterina Gallippi, professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Joint Department, received two NIH R01 grants for her research projects focusing on renal transplant health and improving the determination of malignant breast tumors.

The first grant from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) will go to monitoring renal transplant health. Gallippi’s lab is developing novel ultrasound elasticity imaging methods to enable earlier detection of antibody-mediated rejection (AMR) in kidney transplant patients. They hope that by doing so, interventions can be delivered earlier and more effectively to extend transplant life. Their collaborators are Melissa Caughey in JBME, Randy Detwiler and Emily Chang in Nephrology, Tim Nichols in Cardiology and Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, and Elizabeth Merricks and Rani Sellers in Pathology and Laboratory Medicine.

The second grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) will go to improve the discrimination of malignant from benign breast masses. The award will go to the development of novel ultrasound elasticity imaging methods to enable noninvasive differentiation of malignant from benign breast masses in patients with suspicious lesions to reduce the burden of an invasive biopsy. They will also apply their imaging methods to monitor response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy in patients with breast cancer, with the goal of expediting differentiation of response versus non-response to treatment. Their collaborators are Melissa Caughey in JBME, Cherie Kuzmiak in Radiology, Emily Ray in Oncology, Ben Calhoun in Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, and Melissa Troester in the Gillings School of Public Health.

In addition to these two R01s, Gallippi was awarded a Unified Medical Ultrasound Technology Development (UnMUTeD) T32 grant to train predoctoral students in medical ultrasound technology development. This grant will prepare predoctoral students with the collaborative, technical and commercialization skills necessary to transition their work from advanced research and development of medical ultrasound technologies to commercially available ultrasound products that meaningfully impact patient care. Gallippi is the program director, and Xiaoning Jiang in MAE at NC State and Omer Oralkan in ECE at NC State are associate directors.

Read more about the Gallippi Ultrasound Lab’s work here



Ashley Brown

$2.3 Million to Develop Platelet-Like Particles for Wound Healing in Traumatic Brain Injury

Ashley Brown, associate professor in the Joint Department, was awarded an R01 Grant of $2.3 million to continue her research project involving platelet-like particle development and use for clot formation and wound healing in traumatic brain injury with hemorrhage. 

Uncontrolled bleeding following trauma represents a significant clinical problem and is the major cause of death in both civilian and battlefield traumas. Wound repair following trauma can be impeded by several complications, including infection, keloid formation, insufficient blood flow and a compromised immune system. Traumatic brain injury also frequently occurs concurrently with hemorrhage and is associated with high risks of infection. Infections are a leading cause of mortality, morbidity, and economic disruption around the world, highlighting the need for better methods to achieve hemostasis and improve wound healing following trauma. Clot formation is critical to the cessation of bleeding and involves the formation of platelets embedded within a fibrin mesh. Platelets bind multiple fibrin fibers and actively apply forces to contract the network, thereby stabilizing the developing clot.

The long-term goal of this project is to develop intravenous platelet-like particles that are triggered by the body’s native clotting mechanisms to augment wound healing. It is hypothesized that the combination of platelet-like particles and the delivery of antimicrobial nanosilver will significantly improve wound healing following traumatic injury by providing mechanical stimulation to surrounding cells, which can prevent or treat infection.

Read more about the The Advanced Wound Healing Lab’s work here.



Headshot of Rahima BenhabbourRahima Benhabbour

R01 Grant to Fund Research on Long-acting HIV Therapies

Rahima Benhabbour, associate professor in the Joint Department, received an R01 from The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to provide funding to further her lab’s work to develop long-acting HIV Therapies. The benefit of long-acting therapies that can replace daily pills for people living with HIV is significant. Ultra-long-acting formulations providing steady release over several months of combination antiretroviral drugs can potentially increase accessibility and compliance to HIV treatment regimen and transform the HIV treatment landscape. The overarching goal of this proposal is to develop and evaluate a biodegradable and highly tunable polymeric solid implant that can contribute to curbing the HIV epidemic.

Current methods of HIV drug therapy rely on combination antiretroviral therapy to effectively suppresses HIV replication to virtually undetectable levels, which dramatically reduces the incidence of AIDS. Today, however, an estimated 73% of people living with HIV have access to combination therapy, leaving ~10 million people without access to treatment. Standard delivery for this medication is in the form of a pill that needs to be taken daily. However, as with other chronic conditions, adherence to daily medications remains a challenge for many individuals living with HIV due to structural, behavioral and social barriers.

Benhabbour’s research looks at the impact of using an implant to provide durable and continuous antiviral medication. An implant would prevent non-adherence to treatment, preventing the emergence of drug resistance and the potential loss of treatment effectiveness. The Benhabbour lab will also evaluate user compliance, sustained HIV viral suppression, ease of implant removal and other reactions that may be associated with implant use.

Read more about the Benhabbour Research Laboratory’s work here.

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