Dr. Randall Urban
Vice President for Research &
Chief Research Officer

Dr. Randall Urban

Dr. Randall Urban leads a diverse research community in the bold mission to improve medical practice through progressive translational research endeavors. He has 130 peer-review publications, is the Principle Investigator of UTMB's Clinical Translational Science Award, and has 3 major research interests funded by the NIH and private foundations. In addition to vice president for research and chief research officer, Dr. Urban is Vice Dean for Clinical Research in the John Sealy School of Medicine, Professor of Internal Medicine, Director of the Institute for Translational Sciences, and Fellow, John P. McGovern Distinguished Chair in Oslerian Medicine.

Strategic Research Plan

The Strategic Research Plan, which is used by leadership to  develop a path forward through goals, objectives and tactics, has broad input. It includes six integrated health communities that bring together researchers, educators, clinicians and community members to use prevention and treatment to transform illness to health. Read more.

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UTMB drug discovery partnership awarded $56 million grant

Thanks to a $56 million grant, the University of Texas Medical Branch and global health care company Novartis will enhance their work together to discover drugs to fight off the next pandemic. 

The grant comes from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and is one of nine such grants awarded by NIAID to establish Antiviral Drug Discovery (AViDD) Centers for Pathogens of Pandemic Concern

“We must prepare for the next pandemic by working together across governmental, non-governmental, academic and private sectors to develop an arsenal of countermeasures,” said Dr. Pei-Yong Shi, a professor in the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and VP for Research Innovation at UTMB and one of the leaders of the partnership. “This project is built on an ongoing collaboration between Novartis and UTMB. Combining our world-leading virology research capabilities with the state-of-the art drug discovery technologies at Novartis, we have a real opportunity to discover safe and effective drugs against viruses with pandemic potential.”

The partnership, dubbed the UTMB-Novartis Alliance for Pandemic Preparedness (UNAPP), will focus on coronaviruses, flavivirus and henipavirus, three major classes of viruses with pandemic potential. SARS-CoV-2 is the now well-known coronavirus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic. Falviviruses include Zika, West Nile, and yellow fever, among others. Henipaviruses include Nipah and Hendra virus, both highly virulent emerging pathogens with the potential to cause outbreaks in humans. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us how important it is to be prepared,” said Dr. Charles Mouton, Executive Vice President, Provost and Dean of the John Sealy School of Medicine at UTMB. “Through his hard work and ability to both innovate and collaborate, Dr. Shi is making sure we are on the cutting edge of research and discovery so that when the next pandemic hits, we have the antiviral drugs necessary to respond.”

The partnership’s projects will include looking at well validated drug targets as well as phenotypic screening, which will allow for the discovery of clinical drug candidates as well as new targets that will advance the fundamental understanding of the biology of the viruses.