Research Priority Area
How to Join
If you are interested in joining the CURE Alliance, please email Dr. Rebecca Dutch.
COVID-19, an infectious disease caused by the virus now known as the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), was first detected in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. The virus spread globally at a rapid rate and was declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO) in January 2020, and a pandemic in March.
In response, the University of Kentucky has gathered leading researchers from the Colleges of Medicine, Pharmacy, Public Health, Health Sciences, Engineering, and Nursing to coordinate campus-wide efforts to research the virus and to find the most effective treatments and, ultimately, a cure.
With support from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine’s Alliance Research Initiative, COVID-19 Unified Research Experts (CURE) is focusing on SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 to enhance research, clinical trials, and clinical care at UK.
Rebecca Dutch, PhD, professor and chair of the department of molecular and cellular biochemistry, leads CURE and its interdisciplinary team of scientists and clinicians. Dr. Dutch has researched viral proteins to better understand their structure and function, with the aim of discovering new targets for antiviral treatments.
Dr. Dutch’s own research on SARS-CoV-2 focuses on the spike protein. Like HIV, herpes simplex virus, measles virus, and Ebola virus, SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is surrounded by a membrane. To infect cells, viral proteins promote fusion of the viral membrane with the membrane of the host cell, and this process for SARS-CoV-2 is promoted by the spike protein. Understanding this process will give researchers important insights into strategies for blocking this fusion to prevent COVID-19 infection.
Several clinical trials sponsored by CURE are already underway. These include a phase 2 trial of new methods for treatment of high-risk COVID-19 positive patients and preventive measures for front-line physicians and hospital patients during the pandemic. CURE will also design potential studies of repurposed drugs that may be of benefit to patients testing positive for COVID-19 and advise on important medical policies, including consideration for compassionate use of these repurposed drugs in particular treatments.
- The Adaptive, multi-arm phase II trial of novel agents for treatment of high-risk COVID19 positive patients.
- The Povidone-Iodine Intranasal for Prophylaxis in front-line Physicians and Inpatients during the SARS-CoV2 Pandemic (PIPPI) trial.
- Paula Ackerman, DO, Assistant Professor – Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
- John A. Bauer, PhD, Professor – Department of Pediatrics
- Emma Birks, MD, PhD, Professor – Department of Internal Medicine
- Ken Campbell, PhD, Professor – Department of Physiology
- Lisa A. Cassis, PhD, Professor and Vice President for Research – Department of Pharmacology and Nutritional Sciences
- Robert DiPaola, MD, Dean, College of Medicine – Department of Internal Medicine
- Becky Dutch, PhD, Professor – Department of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry
- Beth A. Garvy, PhD, Associate Dean for Biomedical Education – Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics
- James Geddes, PhD, Vice Dean for Research – Department of Neuroscience
- Matthew S. Gentry, PhD, Professor – Department of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry
- Rodney Guy, PhD, Dean and Professor – College of Pharmacy
- Darrell Jennings, MD, Professor - Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
- Philip A. Kern, MD, Director, Center for Clinical and Translational Science – Department of Internal Medicine
- Jill Kolesar, PharmD, Professor – Department of Internal Medicine and Markey Cancer Center
- Mitu Maskey, MD, MBBS, Assistant Professor – Department of Internal Medicine
- Peter Morris, MD, Professor – Department of Internal Medicine
- Zin Myint, MD, Assistant Professor – Department of Internal Medicine
- Zach Porterfield, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor – Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics
- Vivek M. Rangnekar, PhD, Professor – Department of Radiation Medicine
- Frank Romanelli, PharmD, Professor – College of Health Sciences
- Jaime Sturgill, PhD, Assistant Professor – Department of Internal Medicine
- Lisa Tannock, MD, Professor – Department of Internal Medicine
- Alice Thornton, MD, Division Chief – Department of Internal Medicine
- Vincent Venditto, PhD, Assistant Professor – College of Pharmacy
- Christopher Waters, PhD, Professor – Department of Physiology
- Jerold Woodward, PhD, Professor – Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics