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Two Faculty Awarded by NY State to Advance New Drugs for TB, Research on Aging


Two Faculty Awarded by NY State to Advance New Drugs for TB, Research on Aging

Dr. Jessica Seeliger and Suzanne Fields among those receiving first SUNY Health Network of Excellence Biomedical Research Grants


Jessica Seeliger, PhD, left, and Lu Bai, a PhD student in Chemistry, are evaluating potential novel drug targets in the search for new treatments of TB. 

STONY BROOK, N.Y., July 14, 2014 – Two Stony Brook University School of Medicine faculty will receive funding supported by the State University of New York (SUNY) Health Network of Excellence to advance their biomedical research. The SUNY collaborative research teams of  Jessica Seeliger, PhD, who investigates new drug targets for the treatment of tuberculosis (TB), and Suzanne Fields, MD, whose research centers on age-related issues such as frailty, will each receive approximately $150,000 from the SUNY Research Foundation sponsored network.

The funding is part of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s announcement this month of $900,000 awarded to six projects engaging students and faculty on nine SUNY campuses and their partners in the private sector to research causes, treatments and cures for diseases and brain disorders.

TB is a worldwide disease that claims the lives of some 1.2 million people annually. The rising incidence of multi drug-resistant strains threatens the efficacy current therapies. Dr. Seeliger, Assistant Professor in Pharmacological Sciences, is the Principal Investigator of a project titled “Exploration of Lipid Transport Proteins as Drug Targets for the Treatment of Tuberculosis.”

She and colleagues Dr. Ekin Atilla-Gokcumen from the University at Buffalo, and Dr. Mahmood Hussain from Downstate Medical Center are investigating the function and inhibition of lipid transport mechanisms in the causative bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis. They hypothesize that inhibiting these pathways will sensitize the bacterium to existing drugs or host defense mechanisms.

Dr. Fields, Professor of Clinical Medicine, and Chief, Division of General Internal Medicine, Geriatrics and Hospitalist Medicine, is part of a team of researchers developing the SUNY Network Aging Partnership (SNAP). The goal of this partnership is to build infrastructure and develop collaborative research across SUNY’s four medical universities to facilitate successful completion for scientific funding, accelerate publication of research projects, and recruit and mentor trainees involving age-related issues.

Dr. Sharon Brangman from SUNY Upstate Medical University is the Principal Investigator of the grant. Dr. Bruce Troen from SUNY Buffalo, and Dr. Carl Cohen from SUNY Downstate, are other collaborators with Dr. Fields.

SNAP’s initial concentration is investigating frailty and enhancing lifespan across the health spectrum, with a focus on diagnosing frailty among people with dementia.

The SUNY Health Network of Excellence is one of five SUNY Networks of Excellence established within the last year to increase research collaborations and spur commercialization activities between SUNY and industry partners in core research areas.  This is the first round of New York State funding for the collaborative projects.


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