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    Our mission is to continually improve the health of all veterans through basic science discoveries and clinical research studies. Investigators at the Boise VA have contributed to advancements in our understanding of aging,

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  • June 1, 2016

    Researchers at the Idaho Veterans Research and Education Foundation and Boise VA Medical Center Awarded Major Scientific Research Grant from the National Institutes of Health

    Dr. Dennis Stevens, a world-renown clinician-scientist at the

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 June 1, 2016

Researchers at the Idaho Veterans Research and Education Foundation and Boise VA Medical Center Awarded Major Scientific Research Grant from the National Institutes of Health


Dr. Dennis Stevens, a world-renown clinician-scientist at the Boise VA Medical Center, has been awarded a 5-year, $9 million dollar Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) grant from the NIH’s National Institute of General Medical Sciences.


Under the auspices of this award, Dr. Stevens will establish a well-equipped and multi-disciplinary Biomedical Research Center of Excellence (COE) in Emerging/Reemerging Infectious Diseases on the campus of the Boise VA Medical Center. The long-term thematic objective of this COE is to discover, develop and advance novel new approaches to prevention, diagnosis and treatment of severe life-threatening infections plaguing people of all ages worldwide.


This is the first COBRE awarded to investigators at IVREF/VAMC and the fourth in Idaho. The grant is awarded to the Idaho Veterans Research and Education Foundation (IVREF), the VA’s affiliated non-profit corporation whose mission is to support research by providing grant management, by supporting educational and outreach activities, and by facilitating research training opportunities for Idaho’s next-generation of biomedical research scientists.


The specific aims of this COBRE are 1) to support junior Infectious Diseases researchers and transition them to research funding independence; 2) to improve existing basic science research infrastructure, including establishment of a new, state-of-the-art Histology/Pathology/Imaging core facility; 3) to increase the diversity and critical number of basic science researchers and physician-scientists with interests in Infectious Disease pathogenesis; and 4) expand existing intra- and inter-institutional collaborations to provide exceptional biomedical research and education opportunities in Idaho for gifted undergraduate and graduate/medical students, post-doctoral fellows and physicians. The Histology core facility, the only one of its kind in southern Idaho, will be a shared resource, available to all scientists throughout the region for the benefit of their own research.


The junior investigators participating in this COBRE, Drs. Michael Aldape, Devin Bolz, and Sarah Hobdey, work on a variety of life-threatening infectious diseases including those caused Clostridium difficile (cause of severe hospital-acquired diarrhea), Streptococcus pyogenes (cause of “the flesh-eating disease”) and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA; commonly called “the superbug”). VA Career Research Scientist Dr. Amy Bryant will provide mentorship and help manage the COBRE.


The investigators receive financial support for salary, technical staff, post-doctoral fellows, and supplies. Importantly, each will receive exceptional mentorship provided by established Senior Investigators to guide the investigator’s research progress. As each investigator achieves research independence, s/he will graduate from COBRE support and new junior researchers will be recruited. In this way, program growth is sustained with a constant infusion of new talent, thereby ensuring a continuum of cutting-edge medical advances in this important area.


This award follows a $7.5 million expansion of VA Basic Science Research through a VA-sponsored new research building that was completed in 2012 and which has the capacity to support 16 investigators with laboratory and office space and state of the art biomedical equipment. Though the VA supported this development, the MJ Murdock Charitable Trust also played a critical role in supporting the purchase of equipment.


“This prestigious award is recognition of the high-quality medical research being conducted by the Boise VA’s excellent team of investigators,” said David Wood, Boise VA Medical Center Director and IVREF Chair. “It reflects both their dedication and their innovative, collaborative approach to research. Through this award, our researchers will make further progress in combatting devastating infectious diseases, and make healthcare advances for veterans and the general population. I am extremely proud of their efforts.”


For more information, contact:


Joshua Callihan

Public Affairs Specialist

Boise VA Medical Center

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Szilvia Rideg

Executive Director

Idaho Veterans Research and Education Foundation

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

(208) 422-1000, ext. 7662

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Researcher Spotlight

Current Research

Analysis Of Circulating Phagocyte Activity Measured By Whole Blood Luminescence

Dr. Dennis L. Stevens The present study was undertaken to determine if measurement and analysis of phagocyte function are useful for diagnosis and staging of infection. Circulating phagocyte activity was measured in healthy volunteers and sequentially in patients with acute infections of different types and severity, including those with diabetes mellitus or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection.

Using an automated luminescence system, these phagocyte functions were measured in whole blood: basal and phorbol 12-myristate i3-acetate (PMA)-stimulated oxidase activity, basal and PMA-stimulated simple dioxygenation (e.g., oxidase-driven haloperoxidase activity), and circulating and primed opsonin receptor-dependent dioxygenation. Multiple discriminant analysis of these data showed significant differences between healthy controls, diabetic patients, HIV-positive subjects, and patients with pneumonia or sepsis syndromes. Longitudinally, circulating phagocyte function correlated with clinical condition, severity of infection, and outcome. This methodology provides rapid, objective, and sensitive diagnostic and monitoring information for patients with infections.