Duke’s MURDOCK Study offers $100K in seed funding to scientists at NC Research Campus

Published 12:07 am Wednesday, July 22, 2015

KANNAPOLIS — Duke University’s MURDOCK Study will invest up to $100,000 in the coming year to fund scientific discoveries at the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis.

The MURDOCK Study-NCRC Seed Funding Voucher Program will provide up to 10 vouchers worth $10,000 each to qualifying Research Campus investigators from any institution on the campus. Duke manages the MURDOCK Study and related population health research studies based in Kannapolis. MURDOCK stand for Measurement to Understand the Reclassification of Disease of Cabarrus/Kannapolis.

The vouchers will pay for scientists to use the services and capabilities of the David H. Murdock Research Institute, a nonprofit research institute supporting researchers at the Research Campus and around the world.

The vouchers can be redeemed exclusively for services at the Murdock Research Institute, which offers scientific expertise and advanced instrumentation to collaborators focused on transforming science at the intersection of human health, nutrition and agriculture.

“We are really excited to announce the new voucher program, which aims not only to expand the Duke team’s growing list of collaborators on the North Carolina Research Campus but also promote the specialized capabilities” of the Murdock Research Institute, said Dr. Kristin Newby, principal investigator for the MURDOCK Study, a Duke cardiologist and a Duke Clinical Research Institute faculty member.

Dr. John Cavanagh, interim president for the Murdock Research Institute, and Victoria Christian, chief operating officer for the Duke Translational Research Institute and operational founder for the MURDOCK Study, recently held an information session with Research Campus investigators who are interested in the voucher program.

“We are thrilled to partner with the Duke-MURDOCK Study on this wonderful funding program available to investigators on the North Carolina Research Campus,” Cavanagh said. The Murdock Research Institute, she said, “has vast potential as our portfolio of capabilities, instrumentation and talent continues to grow. The Duke team is a natural partner and by collaborating on this program, we look forward to expanding a special relationship that has been cultivated for a long time.”

As part of the voucher program, Duke also will provide scientists with access to a limited number of MURDOCK Study samples and associated data. More than 11,600 volunteers in the Cabarrus County area have donated blood, urine and health histories to the MURDOCK Study, which aims to understand disease at the molecular level and help develop precision medicine. Sample donors are anonymous to scientists.

“The Duke-MURDOCK Study offers a wealth of assets that can bolster so many research concepts—almost beyond one’s imagination—and support the incredible opportunities and programs in human health and nutrition in Kannapolis that promise to make our goal of improving medicine and public health even more attainable,” Newby said. “A partnership like this helps realize the vision of the (North Carolina Research Campus) as an intersection of thought leadership, advanced instrumentation and research opportunities.”

The invitation to combine the resources of the MURDOCK Study, the David H. Murdock Research Institute and the North Carolina Research Campus scientific community is intended to expand the impact of the partners’ collective efforts, Christian said.

“The voucher model has produced excellent results in labs at Duke by stimulating new ideas and building interdisciplinary teams. Investigators have accessed seed funding to generate preliminary proof-of-concept that enabled them to compete successfully for grants and sponsored programs,” Christian said. “We are excited to catalyze that kind of exchange at the (North Carolina Research Campus), and look forward to generating and sharing groundbreaking research together.”

Investigators from Duke and its Research Campus partners, as well as scientists from many other institutions with approved research initiatives, are using MURDOCK Study samples and accompanying data to better understand multiple sclerosis, memory and cognition, severe acne and healthy aging. Numerous proposals are under development for new study opportunities using the samples and developed infrastructure of the MURDOCK Study.