SBU Center for Infectious Diseases Receives $7.4 Million From NIH to Research Emerging Pathogens
New Five-Year Award Extends Research, Brings NIH Total Funding to $23 Million
STONY BROOK, N.Y., October 1, 2009 – The Center for Infectious Diseases (CID) at Stony Brook University received a $7.4 million grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to continue a research program focused on investigating emerging organisms causing bacterial and viral infections in humans. The grant is a competitive renewal that began in 2004 and will total $23 million.
The continuation grant is part of the NIH’s “Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Disease Research Opportunity” Program that is geared toward supporting interdisciplinary scientific research aimed at understanding how virulent organisms cause disease and finding ways to prevent them.
“Infectious diseases are a real threat to human health locally and globally, making research in this area more important than ever,” said Dr. Samuel Stanley, Jr., President of Stony Brook University. “I congratulate Dr. Benach and his colleagues at the CID for obtaining new support for this vital work,” he said.
“There are a number of emerging organisms that have the potential to cause human diseases, but what we really need to understand is why these organisms are so virulent, which is an essential step in planning how to deal with them,” says Jorge Benach, Ph.D., Principal Investigator, Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, and Director of the CID.
Under the emerging infectious diseases program at the CID, researchers have uncovered certain characteristics of organisms that may be implicated in human infection and disease. Examples include the discovery of external structures, known as pili, in some bacteria that enhance their ability to cause infection; the development of reagents to identify and immunize against several species of bacteria including enteric, urinary tract, and respiratory pathogens; the identification of molecular pathways that enhance the ability of hemorrhagic fever viruses to cause blood vessel damage, and the identification of mutant bacteria that lack genetic elements and may be useful as experimental vaccines.
Members of the CID program include professors from various School of Medicine and University departments, namely James Bliska, Ph.D., Erich Mackow, Ph.D., David Thanassi, Ph.D., and Adrianus van der Velden, Ph.D., of the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology; Martha Furie, Ph.D., of the Department of Pathology, and Wali Karzai, Ph.D., of the Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology. Interdisciplinary research conducted by the multi-departmental group has resulted in 54 peer-reviewed scientific publications since the program project started in 2004.
Founded in 2000, the CID at Stony Brook University conducts basic and applied research on how microbes cause disease and how the body fights off infection. Scientists through the CID collaborate with clinicians to carry out epidemiological and clinical studies that may speed up the time it takes for research discoveries to evolve into new therapeutics and diagnostics. The CID employs 55 scientists, including undergraduate and graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and technicians, and has trained many research scientists.
Faculty from the Center for Infectious Diseases (CID) at Stony Brook University received a $7.4 million grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to continue a research program focused on investigating emerging organisms causing bacterial and viral infections in humans. From left, standing: Drs. Jorge Benach, Adrianus van der Velden, Martha Furie, David Thanassi, and Erich Mackow. From left, seated: Drs. Wali Karzai and James Bliska.