WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today announced approximately $27 million in new grants to enhance biodefense and emerging infectious diseases research in the United States. The extramural grants complement ongoing bioterrorism preparedness and response program activities. The nine grantees are Purdue University, Duke University, St. Louis University, Scripps Research Institute, University of Minnesota, University of Massachusetts, Johns Hopkins University, SRI International, and Ibis Therapeutics.
"HHS is committed to supporting extramural research in biodefense and emerging infectious disease as we prepare to deal with any public health crisis, whether intentional attack with biological agents or a naturally occurring infectious disease," said HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson.
This new grant program emphasizes opportunities for research in innovative surveillances systems, enhanced detection systems, environmental sampling and pathogen detection systems, and innovative approaches for prophylaxis and treatment.
"I am committed to aligning our extramural research program with that of the NIH", said CDC Director Julie L. Gerberding, MD, "while preserving our focus on public health research".
The program is being developed by CDC and the National Institutes of Health. These awards are part of HHS efforts to build and sustain a robust and long-term program for biodefense research.
The nine new grants are described below.
· National Animal Syndromic Surveillance for Bioterrorism, Lawrence T. Glickman, D.V.M., V.M.D., Dr.P.H., Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine, West Lafayette, Indiana. This project will use a nation wide animal health database and commercially available software to provide surveillance of syndromes to alert public health officials to naturally occurring or man-made environmental hazards.
· Nanophotonics for Select Agent Detection, by Ashutosh Chilkoti, Ph.D., Duke University, Durham, North Carolina. This study will develop a sensor that measures biomolecular interactions in real-time for detection of Category A pathogens.
· Molecular Basis of Flavivirus Neurovirulence, by Thomas, Chambers, M.D., St. Louis University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri. This investigation will advance understanding of the molecular determinants of flaviviruses (including mosquito- and tick-transmitted viruses) virulence in humans leading to development of vaccines for these diseases.
· Regulation of the Innate Immune Response to Bacillus Anthracis, by Gary Bokoch, Ph.D., Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California. This project will investigate in molecular detail how Bacillus Anthracis toxins interact with human host defense mechanisms.
· CD8T Cell Response to Vaccinia following lymphopenia, by Stephen C. Jameson, Ph.D., University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis. This proposal studies the nature of anti-viral T cell responses against the pox virus vaccinia and will further understanding of vaccination efficacy in immunodeficient individuals.
· Response to Viral Infection in Immunodeficient Mice, Leslie J. Berg, Ph.D., University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worchester, Massachusetts. This investigation will study T cell signaling pathways to better understand protective immunity to viral infection, including vaccinia virus.
· Developing a Bioterrorism Syndromic Surveillance System, Trish M. Perl, M.D., Johns Hopkins University Department of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland. This project will develop and validate a computerized patient record system-based prediction rule using electronically available laboratory data to track disease syndromes consistent with the characteristics of a bioterrorism event.
· Discovery and Development of Biodefense Antimicrobials, Christopher J. Collins, Ph.D., SRI International, Menlo Park, California. This investigation will develop new preclinical drug candidates for the treatment of infections caused by Category A bacteria, including anthrax.
· Automated Simultaneous Detection of Bioterrorism Agents, David J. Ecker, Ph.D., IBIS Therapeutics, Carlsbad, California. This study will complete the development, engineering, and validation of the infectious disease diagnostic platform that was created to detect a broad range of biological weapons agents in samples collected from the environment and will deploy a working version at CDC.
In addition to these research grants, CDC and NIH are co-funding five training grants for scientists from developing countries to more effectively engage such countries in infectious disease research. The training grants will be awarded to U.S. academic institutions that provide training for scientists in Kenya, Mexico, Brazil, Malawi and Peru.