Research Interests

Neuroscience Research in collaboration with the Center for Excellence in the Neurosciences (CEN)

Since 2009, UNE has established several research centers and institutes to coordinate a university-wide effort in advancing research and scholarly activities in focused areas. These centers were built on existing strengths of faculty and educational programs, and are designed to promote collaborative research and scholarly activities across the university. As one of the inaugural research centers, the CEN remains one of the most vibrant centers within the UNE community and is well-known by the neuroscience research community and local community. The mission of the CEN is to foster creativity and collaboration among people who have a passion for understanding the complexities of the nervous system and applying this knowledge to improve human health, productivity and quality of life. Significant numbers of faculty members in the Department of Biomedical Sciences (DBMS) are affiliated with the CEN. As members of the CEN, the faculty actively conduct extramurally funded research, provide high quality training in neuroscience research to post-doctoral fellows, PhD, MS, and undergraduate students, in addition to medical and other health professional students, and participate in K-12 outreach events. 

Chronic Pain Research in collaboration with the Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) for the Study of Pain and Sensory Function

The UNE COBRE for the Study of Pain and Sensory Function was established in 2012 through a $10 million National Institute of Health (NIH) grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) with Dr. Ian Meng, a faculty member in our department as the Program Director. The COBRE’s mission is to significantly contribute to the scientific understanding of the neurobiology of chronic pain thereby facilitating the discovery and development of novel therapies. The primary focus of the COBRE is to provide support to several junior scientists as they establish independent, extramurally funded research programs. To date, the Center has supported eight principal investigators (PIs) since its establishment including >5 junior PIs from the department, with NIH R01-size funding for each PI (ranging from $136,000 to $250,000 per year). The COBRE has also supported numerous pilot projects led by additional UNE and DBMS faculty (ranging from $ 25,000-50,000 per investigator per year), and numerous post-doctoral fellows, PhD students, master’s students, and many undergraduate and medical student researchers.

With COBRE funding, two core facilities, the Behavioral and Genotyping Core and the Histology and Imaging Core, have been established allowing researchers across UNE and outside of UNE to have access to specialized instrumentation and equipment to carry out cutting-edge research, as well as the necessary training and expertise for using these instruments and equipment. As a result of the robust support from COBRE, over the years, faculty members affiliated with the COBRE have yielded a total of > $10 million in new extramural funding, >50 peer- reviewed publications, and > 200 poster presentations.

Medical Education Research in collaboration with the UNE’s Center for the Enrichment of Teaching and Learning (CETL)

With the transformation of medical education and the evolvement of non-lecture based curriculum, an emerging group of faculty in our department became devoted to medical educational research. Areas of research include but not limited to team-based learning, concept mapping, curriculum integration, nutrition in the medical school curriculum, interprofessional education, active learning, reflective writing, health promotion for medical students, and online education with science prerequisites for the health professions. UNE COM faculty members have consistently presented high quality work at various national and international conferences on education including the International Association of Medical Science Educators (IAMSE) Annual Conferences.

Many UNE COM faculty’s medical education research projects are supported by the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) mini-grants. To serve the needs of the UNE’s commitment to teaching excellence, UNE established the Center for the Enrichment of Teaching and Learning (CETL) in 2015. CETL is a dynamic resource that serves as a catalyst and support for innovative, vibrant, and effective teaching and learning. CETL provides various services related to teaching and learning improvement, including organizing workshops, hosting external speakers, individual consultation, drop-in and learn sessions, and online resources. DBMS faculty are current or past SoTL mini-grant recipients.

UNE COM offered an online Master of Science in Medical Educational Leadership (MMEL) until the end of the 2014-2015 academic year, when the MMEL program was transitioned to UNE’s Online College of Graduate and Professional Studies. Over 30 UNE COM faculty (including many DBMS faculty), staff and students participated in this program to improve their skills in medical education and leadership.

Interprofessional Education and Research in collaboration with the Center for Excellence in Health Innovation

UNE’s Center for Excellence in Collaborative Education (formerly the Interprofessional Education (IPE) Collaborative) was formally established in 2010. This IPE-focused center has transformed UNE’s education in various health professions, including UNE COM in both pre-clinical and clinical phases of students medical education, and promoted/facilitated the collaboration between various health profession programs across the university. UNE COM is committed to interprofessional education and research. In 2015, UNE received a major grant award from the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation to expand its interprofessional team-based curriculum to all health professional programs. UNE COM is the first osteopathic medical school in the country to receive Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation funds to expand interprofessional education offerings through all four years of the curriculum. IPE-focused research by DBMS faculty also began with the forming of this center. For example, Dr. Ling Cao, a DBMS professor, is working on a project evaluating the “Supervised Student Interprofessional Pain Clinic” educational program. This is a collaborative project between UNE’s various health professional programs and the Mercy Pain Center in Portland, Maine and was funded by CETL. This program has now become a regular IPE offering for all interested health professional students.