Montana State University

MSU professor Brian Bothner named new director of Montana INBRE

August 16, 2016 -- By Bill Stadwiser for the MSU News Service

Montana State University professor Brian Bothner has been named the new director and principal investigator of the Montana IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence, or INBRE, program, effective July 1, 2016. MSU photo by Kelly Gorham.

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BOZEMAN – Montana State University professor Brian Bothner has been named the new director and principal investigator of the Montana IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence, or INBRE, program, effective July 1, 2016. He succeeds Allen Harmsen, who remains at MSU and has assumed the role of principal investigator for the American Indian-Alaska Native Clinical and Translational Research Program, a new research partnership funded by the National institutes of Health. Due to NIH guidelines, Harmsen cannot direct this grant and Montana INBRE at the same time.

Bothner, a highly respected professor in MSU’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in the College of Letters and Science and a longstanding INBRE collaborator, brings vast experience in biomedical research, according to Renee Reijo Pera, MSU vice president for research and economic development. He currently directs a highly productive research group at MSU known as the Bothner Lab, which is part of the Thermal Biology Institute and the Department of Energy-funded Biological Energy Transfer and Catalysis (BETCy) Energy Frontier Research Center. Bothner is also acting director of the Proteomics, Metabolomics and Mass Spectrometry Facility at MSU.

“Dr. Bothner will do an excellent job as head of Montana INBRE,” Reijo Pera said. “He is a terrific mentor and collaborator, and in addition to his extensive research expertise, he brings a detailed understanding of grant management and an established commitment to mentoring young scientists.”

Bothner has served as a principal investigator on several federal research grants, including grants from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and Air Force Office of Sponsored Research. The focus of his NIH-related research is discovery of biomarkers for hemorrhagic shock and use of viruses for gene therapy. One of the NIH awards he received was a $1.2 million grant to investigate how viruses used as delivery vehicles enter cells.

Graduate and undergraduate students have been closely involved in all of the research conducted in the Bothner Lab; Bothner has trained more than 50 undergraduates and graduated 10 doctoral and master’s students. Currently, six of his former undergraduates are in medical school and five are in Ph.D. programs at top universities around the country.

Bothner said he is excited to continue INBRE’s investments in student research across Montana.

“I do not think that you can overemphasize the value of discovery and active learning,” Bothner said. “This is the way people learned for thousands of years, and as educators now appreciate, it is the best way to foster engagement.”

Harmsen said he is excited and thankful that Bothner will serve as director.

“Brian has an outstanding reputation as an excellent mentor, and I believe he will be an outstanding director. He has some excellent ideas for Montana INBRE and is a great person to work with.”

Bothner thanked Harmsen for his years of service to INBRE.

“Allen Harmsen is leaving behind an inspiring legacy,” Bothner said. “He spearheaded new partnerships between lab and social sciences, encouraged deeper research collaborations with rural and Native communities and elevated Montana’s status in biomedical research as evidenced by attracting nationally recognized investigators and additional resources to the state. He leaves a very big pair of shoes to be filled.” 

Bothner added he is excited about the opportunities ahead for the INBRE program in Montana. 

“The most exciting aspect of joining INBRE is the opportunity to expand the scope of health-based science across Montana,” Bothner said. “This includes conducting research of value to all people in Montana as well as inspiring students in rural areas and at tribal colleges to aim for careers in science and health care.”

Bothner earned a Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, where he was awarded the Hal and Alma Reagan Fellowship for academic excellence in the field of cancer research. He completed his postdoctoral studies in structural virology at The Scripps Research Institute in California under the direction of John E. Johnson. At MSU, Bothner has received numerous awards, including the Charles and Nora Wiley Faculty Award for Meritorious Research and Creativity, the MSU College of Letters and Science Fellow in Engagement and the Honors College Spirit of Discovery Award.

Housed at MSU, Montana INBRE is a collaborative network of Montana-based universities, colleges and research institutions that invests in the state’s biomedical research capacity and workforce pipeline. INBRE is part of the Institutional Development Award (IDeA) program from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences division of the National Institutes of Health under grant number P20GM103474.

Contact: Brian Bothner, Montana INBRE, (406) 994-3400 or bbothner@montana.edu

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