A new partnership between researchers at the University of Kentucky will combat the threat of infectious diseases through research directed at prevention and treatment.

The Consortium for Understanding and Reducing Infectious Diseases in Kentucky (CURE-KY) will foster multidisciplinary collaborations to address the burden of infectious diseases in the Commonwealth and beyond.

“I am thrilled by the boundless possibilities our collaborative efforts promise at the University of Kentucky. With a steadfast commitment to advancing knowledge and fostering transdisciplinary alliances, we aim to propel infectious disease research to new heights, creating a healthier Kentucky and nurturing future scientific leaders,” said Ilhem Messaoudi, PhD, CURE-KY founder and chair of the Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics in the College of Medicine.

CURE-KY grew out of the Emerging Themes for Research Program, which is part of the Research Leadership Academy (RLA) supported by the Office of the Vice President for Research and was built on the heels of UK’s COVID-19 Unified Research Experts (CURE) Alliance that was quickly assembled to support a full range of COVID-related research.

“A key facet of the Research Leadership Academy is to empower our researchers to tackle research questions that are critical to Kentucky and do so with a collaborative and innovative approach,” said Lisa Cassis, UK’s vice president for research. “CURE-KY is an exemplary model of this strategy. I am excited to see the range of this team’s scientific expertise and their dedication to advancing the health of Kentucky through vital research.” 

CURE-KY brings together a diverse group of experts from the College of Medicine, College of Public Health, College of Pharmacy, Martin-Gatton College of Agriculture, Food and Environment and Markey Cancer Center.

CURE-KY will focus on research in five areas: microbial pathogenesis; vaccines, therapeutics and antimicrobial resistance; public health and community engagement; animal health; and engineering and systems.

The consortium will also work to address vaccine hesitancy and misinformation to foster trust between Kentuckians and the scientific community.

“CURE-KY leverages the expertise of some of the best and brightest physicians and scientists specializing in infectious disease treatment and prevention. With the power of this unified team, the University of Kentucky will equip the Commonwealth with the information, resources and health care solutions necessary to combat dangerous diseases,” said Charles “Chipper” Griffith III, MD, dean of the College of Medicine.

“The College of Public Health is dedicated to bettering public health, which is tightly integrated with the mission of CURE-KY. From studying prevention, control and understanding transmission dynamics to assessing risk, promoting health equity and engaging communities in disease control efforts, this work is critical toward our goal of creating a healthier Kentucky,” said Heather Bush, PhD, dean of the College of Public Health.

"We are proud to be a part of the CURE-KY consortium, which represents a pivotal step forward in our ongoing commitment to improve public health in Kentucky,” said R. Kip Guy, PhD, dean of the College of Pharmacy. “The collective expertise on our campus in drug discovery, vaccine development and infectious disease research is essential for addressing the complex challenges presented in Kentucky and beyond.”

“From Dr. Li’s groundbreaking research on infectious diseases in animals to the breadth of research in plant sciences, engineering and biotechnology, our college is a powerhouse of expertise that propels transdisciplinary projects like CURE-KY, fostering innovation and collaboration at every turn," said Nancy Cox, vice president for land-grant engagement and dean of the UK Martin-Gatton College of Agriculture, Food and Environment.

“Kentucky is home to the highest cancer rates in the country, including several cancers caused by infectious diseases such as HPV and hepatitis C. Cancer prevention is a key component of Markey’s mission to significantly reduce Kentucky’s cancer burden. By better understanding and combating diseases that can lead to cancer, CURE-KY will contribute to this mission and make progress toward our ultimate goal of conquering cancer in the Commonwealth,” said B. Mark Evers, MD, director of the Markey Cancer Center.

“We have an excellent team of scientists here at UK and on our leadership team. Together we can tackle infectious diseases from an array of perspectives to make a difference in the health of our community,” said Messaoudi.

You can find more information about CURE-KY and upcoming events on their website: https://medicine.uky.edu/sites/cure-ky