A number of activities with clinical, educational or research components require active collaboration of a variety of disciplines. In order to facilitate development of programs with multi-department and multi-college participation, several programs have been designated as interdisciplinary programs. Interdisciplinary programs imply more than close cooperation on campus; they also involve coordination of all private and public efforts in a particular field. Thus, interdisciplinary programs fit the description of being organized scientific activities “without walls.”
Center for Integrative and Translational Genomics
This interdisciplinary center builds upon a strong base in functional genomics and bioinformatics that extends from Knoxville, through Oak Ridge, to Memphis. The purpose of the Center is to provide infrastructure and expertise to catalyze a broad range of research projects and university-industry collaborations that exploit cutting edge techniques to delineate the function of genes in biology. The Center works closely with faculty across departments and schools throughout the UT System (UTK, UTHSC, and UTSI), Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (SJCRH).
Center of Excellence for Diseases of Connective Tissue
Scientists in the Center of Excellence for Diseases of Connective Tissues conduct basic research in five broad areas: Autoimmune diseases (such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus); degenerative diseases (such as osteoarthritis and degenerative disc disease); inflammation and the basic science of how the body reacts to injury; fibrotic diseases (such as heart failure and emphysema), and clinical research.
It is from clinical service, clinical and basic research and teaching that the center derives its strength. Major center components include research focused on understanding the cause and origin of connective tissue disease by using animal models and in vitro cell culture systems, designing new diagnostic tests for diseases of connective tissue, and developing novel therapies and prosthetics to treat these diseases.
Carolyn P. and Edward J. Boling Center for Developmental Disabilities
The Child Development Center was established in January 1957, under a grant from the United States Children’s Bureau through the Maternal and Child Health Division of the Tennessee Department of Public Health. The current facility was constructed with a grant from the United States Public Health Service in March 1966. The building was renamed the Boling Center for Developmental Disabilities (BCDD) in honor of retired UT President Boling and his wife in 1988.
BCDD is one of sixty-one federally funded university centers for excellence in developmental disabilities, education, research, and service. Program goals are to: provide interdisciplinary training; develop innovative clinical service programs; and deliver technical assistance and consultation to those local, state, and federal programs that address the needs of individuals with developmental disabilities.
Training programs within the BCDD include: developmental pediatrics, biochemistry of metabolic disorders, clinical genetics, and child psychiatry, as well as audiology, dentistry, nursing, nutrition, occupational therapy, physical therapy, psychology, special education, speech pathology, and social work. Training efforts are largely directed at the graduate level, and fellowships are offered in most disciplines. Training opportunities are also available to students at the undergraduate level. Cooperative programs housed in the BCDD include: Harwood Day Training Center, Memphis Oral School, Exceptional Children’s Clinic, UT Child Care Laboratory, BCDD Demonstration School, and Adolescent Day Treatment Program.
A unique feature of the BCDD is the interdisciplinary approach to both service and training. Trainees in every discipline have opportunities to work with professionals in other disciplines and to understand each professional’s contribution to the diagnostic and treatment process. The interdisciplinary environment also provides a setting in which children and adults with complex problems can receive diagnostic and treatment services.
University of Tennessee Center for Cancer Research
The University of Tennessee Center for Cancer Research, established in its present form in early 1985, is dedicated to research and education in cancer and cancer-related disorders. Membership in the Cancer Center is voluntary, is open to any interested faculty or community health professional, and is intended to promote scientific collaborations among investigators from many disciplines. The Cancer Center and its members are responsible for the development and application of new knowledge to patient care and to the prevention and early detection of cancer. The Cancer Center is a full, active member of a national multidisciplinary cooperative clinical trial group funded by the National Cancer Institute and enrolls patients to investigational treatment protocols in leukemia, lymphoma, breast, and respiratory cancer. Basic research programs include population pharmacokinetics, cancer pharmacology, and tumor cell biology. The Cancer Center is also involved in funded research and community service projects in cancer control and cancer education.
Molecular Resource Center
The Molecular Resource Center of Excellence (MRC) serves as an interdisciplinary resource for basic biomedical and clinical investigators. The Center was established to develop the facility and expertise needed for a basic science or clinical investigator to begin with a purified protein and isolate its cognate gene. Conversely, the investigator may begin with a gene that can be easily cloned and isolate its cognate protein. Once a desired gene has been cloned or a protein purified, the facility permits full structural determination and manipulation of both molecules. The Center consists of four facilities: Gene Cloning and DNA Sequencing at both the single fragment and whole genome/transcriptome (next-generation sequencing or NGS) levels, Oligonucleotide Synthesis, Peptide Synthesis, and DNA-chip (Affymetrix and Illumina) microarrays. Additionally, equipment, reagents, and training for real-time PCR at various throughputs is also provided. Additional facilities include a laser-driven dual beam flow cytometer that will permit analysis and sorting of up to seven different cell types, and a protein analysis laboratory consisting of peptide isolation and mapping facilities, amino acid and primary sequence analysis facilities and computer-based molecular modeling capabilities.
The Center for Neuroscience
The first of its kind in Tennessee, The Center for Neuroscience was established in 1985 through the State of Tennessee Better Schools Program. In 1988, the Tennessee Higher Education Commission designated it an Accomplished Center of Excellence because it had become one of the largest integrated neuroscience research and training programs in the U.S. and an internationally recognized center for neuroscience. The Center for Neuroscience is a multidisciplinary program, which includes faculty from twelve departments in the College of Medicine (four basic sciences and eight clinical sciences departments). The interdepartmental nature of the program provides the collaborative environment necessary for quality neuroscience research. Research directions are diverse, with emphases on movement disorders, including Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s chorea, and muscular dystrophy; visual function and eye diseases; developmental neurobiology; and molecular neuroscience / genetics. Other areas include neuroendocrine regulation and the neuronal control of cardiovascular function, sleep, cerebral circulation and metabolism, the biochemical analysis of peptides, and brain modeling.
Center for Pediatric Pharmacokinetics and Therapeutics
The Center for Pediatric Pharmacokinetics and Therapeutics (CPPT) was formally established in July 1986 at UTHSC by a grant from the State of Tennessee. This grant provided the additional funding necessary to build a comprehensive, multidisciplinary Center of Excellence committed to the development of new knowledge related to drug disposition and effects in children. Prior to establishing the Center, faculty investigators at The University of Tennessee, Le Bonheur Children’s Medical Center, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and the Regional Newborn Center had over $1 million of extramurally funded research related to pediatric pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics. The CPPT was built upon this strong foundation, providing new resources and bringing together the requisite expertise in pediatrics, clinical pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, pharmacology, pharmacogenetics and related disciplines. By establishing several CORE laboratories as shared resources for Center faculty, the CPPT has facilitated collaboration and coordination of a multidisciplinary group of investigators at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. The CPPT has over 20 full-time faculty investigators who are directing extramurally funded research programs related to the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of drugs in children.
The Brain Injury Research Center
The Brain Injury Research Center is a regional consortium that includes membership from ten participating institutions. The consortium includes the following: Colleges of Allied Health Science, Dentistry, Medicine and Nursing at The University of Tennessee Health Science Center; The Regional Medical Center at Memphis; the Baptist Memorial Hospital; the Veterans Administration Medical Center; the Semmes Murphey Clinic; the Le Bonheur Children’s Medical Center; the Methodist University Hospital; Memphis Neuroscience Center; St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital; and the Epi Care Center. The major aims of this Center are to standardize clinical therapies, to better assess new protocols, to increase research related to brain injury, and to heighten community awareness.
The Center for Prevention and Health Services Research
The Center for Prevention and Health Services Research, in collaboration with the University of Memphis and other area universities and health care organizations, serves as a catalyst to stimulate the growth of important research whose purpose is to improve the database, quality, access and efficiency of clinical and prevention health services for adults of all races and economic status in the State of Tennessee. The major objective of the Center is to develop collaborative research relationships with many departments and colleges both at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and in other area institutions.