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RD Highlight: Ralph Lydic

Teaming Up to Improve Wound Healing

Why do some wounds heal quickly while others heal slowly? That is at the heart of Ralph Lydic’s research application recently submitted to the National Institutes of Health.

“Wound healing is a fascinating process; it happens without us thinking about it,” said Lydic, UT professor of psychology, and Robert H. Cole Professor of Neuroscience at the UT Health Science Center. “In healthy individuals, it proceeds as a function of time. Wound healing becomes abnormal, and wounds fail to heal in association with a number of factors, such as aging, diabetes, and obesity.”

Lydic wanted to apply for a National Institutes of Health’s Collaborative Program Grant for Multidisciplinary Teams (RM1), but needed help rounding out his research team. Though he had identified and assembled six investigators from four institutions, the application required a comprehensive management plan.

“I don’t know anybody in the business school, but people at ORE helped us make contact with UT’s Tim Munyon at the Haslam College of Business who was able to address the required management component of the application.”

Lydic has a joint appointment at ORNL, requiring the team to determine which institution would lead the proposal effort.

“ORE was very helpful in resolving that in a way that allowed us to not lose too much writing time,” Lydic says.

With the knowledge gained by experiments in the Lydic and Baghdoyan labs, analyzed with ORNL’s mathematical expertise and machine learning advances, the application proposes to “identify chemicals that will serve as therapeutic targets or endogenous chemicals in the tissues that we can manipulate to enhance wound healing,” Lydic says.

The ultimate goal of basic research, he adds, is to make life easier for people who have life circumstances that currently make wound healing difficult.

Lydic’s team included investigators at UT, Shawn Campagna and Helen Baghdoyan, along with investigators from the UT Medical Center, Michael Karlstad; from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Dan Jacobson; and from Pennington Biomedical Research Center and LSU, Jason Collier (formerly at UT).