Recognizing growing evidence that inflammation influences many diseases — including diabetes, certain cancers and even Alzheimer’s — University of Florida Health has established the Center for Inflammation and Mucosal Immunology to foster collaboration among members of the UF biomedical research community with shared interest in inflammation and disease.
“Though the center is very new, our members already number more than 40 UF scientists whose interdisciplinary research efforts explore the whole gamut of complex biological responses of inflammation and immunology,” said center director Mansour Mohamadzadeh, Ph.D., a professor in the UF College of Veterinary Medicine department of infectious diseases and pathology, and a faculty member in the UF College of Medicine division of gastroenterology, hepatology and nutrition in the department of medicine. “The center’s primary goal is to foster research collaborations among these multidisciplinary scientists, leading to new discoveries that alleviate human sickness and death caused by immune-mediated auto-inflammatory diseases.”
Inflammation has been found to influence many medical maladies. These include colon and other cancers, irritable bowel syndrome, eosinophilic esophagitis, chronic infectious diseases, systemic pulmonary fibrosis, type 1 diabetes, arthritis and Alzheimer’s. Facilitating interdisciplinary research of the inflammatory processes behind these conditions should accelerate scientific discoveries leading to improved prevention and treatment.
To open doors for networking and collaboration among UF researchers, the center hosts a monthly seminar series wherein members share their research and learn about the research of others. In addition, a research retreat, anticipated to become an annual event, is planned for October and will feature a nationally prominent keynote speaker on inflammation and mucosal immunology. One of the greatest benefits of center membership may be access to core equipment and animal research platforms.
“In addition to providing access to advanced technologies that are perhaps too expensive for individual labs to purchase, such as flow cytometry, confocal microscopy and cell analysis, one of the very important membership benefits is access to the center’s germ-free mouse and zebrafish models,” Mohamadzadeh said. “These germ-free animal platforms are free of contaminating microorganisms or disease, and can be deliberately modified with specific bacteria, making it possible to directly investigate the impact of colonization in a living organism. We believe these core resources will prove to be invaluable assets to UF scientists, giving them a competitive edge in the national research community.”