The University of Alabama at Birmingham has received a five-year, $9.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Research Infrastructure Programs to develop a new Center for Precision Animal Modeling, or C-PAM.
The UAB C-PAM is one of only three centers funded by the NIH program to create national centers for precision disease modeling.
Precision disease modeling involves creation of patient-specific disease models — often using yeast, worms, fruit flies, zebrafish, frogs, mice or rats — that mimic the molecular character of a condition present in a patient. Studying the effect the condition has on the model makes it possible to do science that is not possible in the human patient. Advanced data science and artificial intelligence help researchers predict possible treatments that can be tested on the models. Therapies that help treat the model would then become candidates for treatment of the patient.
The C-PAM approach also can reveal whether the genomic variant in a patient is caused by the disease, determine its significance for gene function and identify and evaluate therapeutic targets.
The UAB C-PAM will take requests from physicians on the creation of a customized model for a patient, and the physician can work with C-PAM to further understand the disease and potential treatment.
UAB’s C-PAM’s proposal to the NIH included a 15-member team and was submitted by Brad Yoder, Ph.D., chair of the UAB Department of Cell, Development and Integrative Biology, and Matt Might, Ph.D., professor in the UAB Department of Medicine and director of the Hugh Kaul Precision Medicine Institute, who will coordinate the work.
Might and Yoder say C-PAM will leverage UAB’s existing expertise to create a national resource for efficient and cost-effective analysis of pathogenicity of gene variants identified in patients with rare disorders.