COBRE Pilot Projects

Because hypertension and associated kidney & cardiovascular diseases are highly prevalent in Louisiana, Tulane Health Sciences Center established a Hypertension & Renal Center of Excellence (THRCE), which has developed rapidly as a consequence of the support received by the NIH COBRE award. 

In 2013, the Tulane Hypertension and Renal Center of Excellence was awarded a 5 year, $5.4 million grant in order to maintain the Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) Phase III Translational Research in Hypertension and Renal Biology. The competitive award is administered by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS). The principal investigator (PI) of the award is Dr. L. Gabriel Navar who, along with Dr. L. Lee Hamm, will continue to direct the COBRE program.

Tulane University Hypertension and Renal Center of Excellence (THRCE) was first established in 2002 by the NIH as one of its Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE Phase I) with a 5 year, $10.8 million grant.  Then in 2007, the center was successful in competing for the 5 year COBRE Phase II grant that awarded over $11 million to continue its research in the field of high blood pressure and its effect on the kidneys as well as the role of kidneys in the development of high blood pressure.  

COBRE Phases I and II provided support for 16 junior faculty members, of which 7 received NIH research funding, 19 postdoctoral fellows, 12 graduate students, and 29 medical students. In addition, the research infrastructure was markedly enhanced by the Molecular, Imaging, and Analytical Core with state-of-the-art facilities, and Transgenic Animal Core serving members of the Hypertension and Renal Center. The long-term goals of the COBRE Phase III Award are to provide an enriched environment to all investigators so that they can maintain nationally competitive status as well as to augment and strengthen the biomedical research capacity and infrastructure for Tulane investigators in hypertension, renal and cardiovascular disease.

The overall outcome of COBRE Phase III will contribute to an increased understanding of the multiple interactions leading to the pathophysiological derangements that lead to hypertension and associated kidney and cardiovascular diseases. COBRE Phase III, like phases I & II, will continue to increase the number of competitive scientists in a disease specific area of extremely high biomedical relevance in this region.

COBRE III Pilot Projects

Each year, 3 investigators are awarded a one year $45,000 grant to support their research. Applications are subjected to a rigorous review process to ensure that funds are provided to only the most highly meritorious projects that are likely to lead to extramural research support and will stimulate multidisciplinary collaborative interactions. The following are names of Pilot Project award recipients and information on their pilot project. 


Pilot Project award recipients were Dewan S. A. Majid, MBBS, PhD, Hongbing Liu, MD, PhD, and M-Altaf Kan, PhD. The following were the three pilot projects:

  • Pilot Project 1:
    Roles of TNF-α receptors in high salt induced exaggerated hypertensive and renal injury responses to Angiotensin II.
    ~ PI: Dewan S. A. Majid, MBBS, PhD
  • Pilot Project 2:
    Histone Deacetylases 1 and 2 in Kidney Development.
    ~ PI: Hongbing Liu, PhD
  • Pilot Project 3:
    Roles of TLRs and ROS in contrast-induced nephropathy and new therapeutic strategies.
    ~ PI: M-Altaf Khan, PhD


Pilot Project award recipients were T. Cooper Woods, Ph.D., Shaowei Chen, M.D., Ph.D., and Prerna Kumar, Ph.D.. The following were the three pilot projects:

  • Pilot Project 1:
    Non-coding RNA in Diabetes mediated Enhanced Intimal Thickening during Early Atherosclerotic Plaque Development.
    ~ PI: T. Cooper Woods, Ph.D.
  • Pilot Project 2:
    Histone Deacetylases 1 and 2 in Kidney Development.
    ~ PI: Shaowei Chen, M.D., Ph.D. (August 1, 2014 till February 28, 2015)
    ~ PI: Hongbing Liu, Ph.D. (From March 1, 2015)
  • Pilot Project 3:
    Estrogen-dependent activation of guanylyl cyclase /natriuretic peptide receptor A gene expression via estrogen receptors ERα and ERβ.
    ~ PI: Prerna Kumar, Ph.D.


Pilot Project award recipients were Kenneth D. Mitchell, Ph.D.., Ryosuke Sato, Ph.D.., and Ihor V. Yosypiv, M.D. The following were the three pilot projects:

  • Pilot Project 1:
    PDGF Receptor Blockade Reverses the Renal Functional and Morphological Changes that occur in AngiotensinII-Dependant Hypertension.
    ~ PI: Kenneth D. Mitchell, Ph.D.
  • Pilot Project 2:
    Angiotensinogen Expression and Regulation in Renal Proximal Tubules during the Development of Angiotensin-II-Dependent Hypertension.
    ~ PI: Ryosuke Sato, Ph.D.
  • Pilot Project 3:
    Prorenin Receptor in Collecting Duct Development.
    ~ PI: Ihor V. Yosypiv, M.D.