COBRE Center for Stem Cells and Aging


In June 2023, Peter J. Quesenberry, MD, was awarded Phase 3 from the National Institutes of Health/National Center for a five-year COBRE grant focused on stem cell biology. 

This COBRE grant includes work on microvesicle transfer of genetic phenotype, which promises to reveal mechanisms underlying stem cell plasticity and lability, along with new insights into cellular phenotype regulation. Tissue-specific transfer of genetic phenotype occurs from the liver, lung, brain, and heart and, most intriguingly, is predominantly a transcriptional event. Ongoing work suggests that microRNA may be transferred to target cells and mediastable epigenetic changes to alter phenotype. This work has been expanded to human lung, prostate, and breast cancer in which cancer tissue specific mRNA has been transferred to target bone marrow cells. 

COBRE Phase III Mission

The mission of the COBRE Center is to: 

  1. Develop a strong mentoring group of established investigators with backgrounds in stem cell biology, molecular biology, transcriptional regulation of differentiation, pulmonary physiology and biology, and the translation of basic research to clinical therapy.
  2. Enhance the infrastructure support by providing core laboratories, administrative support, and total resources to increase the research competitiveness of our faculty.
  3. Recruit and retain funded young and established faculty to continue the establishment of Rhode Island Hospital as a major stem cell research center.
  4. Determine the true phenotype of marrow stem cells and its tissue fate and to study the transfer of phenotype information via microvesicles from injured tissue and define mechanisms of transcriptional control of differentiation.
  5. Translate basic stem cell studies into clinical trials on tissue malignancies. 

Specific Aims of COBRE Phase III

COBRE Phase III aims to:

  • Encourage internal and external collaborative granting efforts by our investigators with the ultimate goal of developing program project grants centered on our areas of interest, such as aging, hematopoietic and neural stem cells, and pulmonary hypertension.
  • Develop a thematic, multidisciplinary center with a focus on stem cells and aging. 
  • Continue our successful recruitment of new junior investigators, who would also be candidates for COBRE support, to our research program.
  • Support the career development of our COBRE grantees with directed mentoring for the achievement of specific projects and individual milestones.
  • Continue to work with local, state, and federal leaders to contribute to the economic health of our state by providing sustainable careers in the medical sciences and significant amounts of extramural funding.

COBRE Center for Stem Cells and Aging Locations