Initiatives like the Animal Health Corridor and Kansas Biosciences Authority drew Dr. Jim Riviere to the Kansas City region. As a longtime member of KCALSI’s scientific advisory committee before relocating, Riviere learned of the unique environment developing at Kansas State University.
In his current roles as professor and McDonald Endowed Chair in Veterinary Medicine at K-State, Riviere says he looks forward to strengthening that environment with the university’s Institute of Computational Comparative Medicine (ICCM) and the Nanotechnology Innovation Center (NICKS).
Established in 2013, the ICCM functions as an incubator for researchers, bench scientists, and clinicians to collaborate under the concept of One Health which emphasizes transferring lessons learned in animal research to advance human health. As director of the ICCM, Riviere hopes to explore novel ways of looking at drug effects across different species.
“The work we are focused on could reduce the number of animal studies required for drug approval,” said Riviere on the institute’s website. “It could improve the determination of withdrawal times of drugs in animals with diseases; it could support the modeling of chemical risk assessment. There are many opportunities to advance veterinary medicine by using modeling and simulation methods combined with experimental data to form a quantitative framework for decision making.”
Adding to the faculty members already working in this area, Riviere is working to hire additional, multi-disciplinary staff in areas including: biostatistics and mathematical modeling in comparative pharmacology.
“The idea is to get people that normally aren’t working together, even though they are tenured, to work in the same area rather than being sheltered away in their own departments,” Riviere said.
The Nanotechnology Innovation Center offers the equipment needed for the characterization, localization, and assessment of toxicity of nanomaterial as well as a regional resource for companies, industrial sponsors, academic researchers, entrepreneurs, and defense contractors pursuing new ideas. According to the center’s Web site, NICKS is “the first nanotechnology research center housed at a veterinary college with an agricultural and comparative medicine focus.”
Riviere said he hopes the culmination of these initiatives will result in a large industrial collaboration in the region.
“There is a lot of excitement and interest,” he said. “It just becomes a center where really interesting things can be done.”
Both the ICCM and NICKS are currently under renovation with an expected re-opening sometime in 2014.