October 31, 2018

First TIIPs grant to support immunology research

A team of U-M researchers is launching a new study to better understand autoimmune skin diseases and why some people respond better than others to treatment. In the process, they aim to derive new knowledge about the immune response that could lead to more targeted, personalized therapies for a wider array of disorders.

Pictured: Michelle Kahlenberg, MD, PhD; Charles F. Burant, MD, PhD; and Johann Gudjonsson, MD, PhD.
Pictured above, left to right:  Michelle Kahlenberg, MD, PhD; Charles F. Burant, MD, PhD; and Johann Gudjonsson, MD, PhD.

Dubbed PerMIPA, the study is the first to be funded as a Taubman Institute Innovation Project – a new grants program by the U-M’s A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute. The Taubman Institute provides unrestricted money for physician-researchers at U-M to follow their hunches into lines of research without the red tape hurdles of government and other financial sources.

About 40 research teams applied for the first round of innovation grants this year when the program launched, said Taubman Institute director Charles F. Burant, MD, PhD, who announced funding for PerMIPA was announced this fall.

PerMIPA is headed by Michelle Kahlenberg, MD, PhD and Johann Gudjonsson, MD, PhD, each of whom are prior recipients of the Taubman Emerging Scholar grants that help junior medical school faculty establish their research programs. Both physicians care for patients at Michigan Medicine in addition to running their laboratories and serving as faculty at the U-M medical school.

“I’m really thrilled that our first TIIP grant is going to these talented investigators,” said Burant.

“As Taubman Emerging Scholars, they already have impressed me with their thoughtfulness and determination,” he said. “They already have advanced our understanding of autoimmune skin diseases and now they will apply that knowledge to figure out why some people relapse when others don’t. We really feel that this project will make a significant difference in the care of patients.”