Einstein Researchers Receive Two Grand Challenges Explorations Grants to Combat HIV and Tuberculosis

BRONX, N.Y., Dec. 4, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Scientists at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have been awarded two Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE) grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for their innovative global health and development research projects. The grant recipients are Arturo Casadevall, M.D., Ph.D., who is working to create a novel vaccine for tuberculosis (TB), and Ekaterina Dadachova, Ph.D., and Joan Berman, Ph.D., for their work on a novel and promising HIV treatment.

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Dr. Casadevall, professor and chair of microbiology & immunology and professor of medicine, was named one of the 80 GCE Round 9 winners for his unconventional approach to developing a vaccine for TB. While current TB vaccines are designed to provoke immune cells to attack the bacteria that cause the disease, Dr. Casadevall proposes a different tack – harnessing the tremendous potential of antibodies to kill the invaders and prevent the development of the disease. 

Dr. Dadachova, professor of radiology and of microbiology & immunology, and Dr. Berman, professor of pathology and of microbiology & immunology, received a Phase II GCE grant to study whether radioimmunotherapy (RIT) can kill the HIV virus in latently infected cells. In RIT, radioactive isotopes attached to antibodies selectively target and destroy cells. Since current anti-retroviral therapy drugs cannot reach the brain, they will also investigate whether the RIT approach can destroy HIV in the central nervous system. The project, which builds on Dr. Dadachova's earlier GCE research with Dr. Casadevall, is one of only 15 projects that advanced to the next level. Drs. Dadachova and Berman will work in collaboration with Dr. Casadevall, New York University researchers Susan Zolla-Pazner, Ph.D., and Miroslaw Gorny, M.D., Ph.D., and Alfred Morgenstern, Ph.D., and Frank Bruchertseifer, Ph.D., from the Institute of Transuranium Elements in Karlsruhe, Germany, who supply valuable radioisotopes for the project.

GCE funds researchers worldwide who are taking innovative approaches to some of the world's toughest and persistent global health and development challenges. GCE invests in the early stages of bold ideas that may help to solve the problems confronting people in the developing world every day. 

"Investments in innovative global health research are already paying off," said Chris Wilson, director of Global Health Discovery and Translational Sciences at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "We continue to be impressed by the novelty and innovative spirit of Grand Challenges Explorations projects and are enthusiastic about this exciting research. These investments hold real potential to yield new solutions to improve the health of millions of people in the developing world, and ensure that everyone has the chance to live a healthy productive life."

Dr. Casadevall also holds the Leo and Julia Forchheimer Chair in Microbiology & Immunology and Dr. Dadachova is the Sylvia and Robert S. Olnick Faculty Scholar in Cancer Research.

About Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University

Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University is one of the nation's premier centers for research, medical education and clinical investigation. During the 2012-2013 academic year, Einstein is home to 742 M.D. students, 245 Ph.D. students, 116 students in the combined M.D./Ph.D. program, and 360 postdoctoral research fellows. The College of Medicine has 2,476 full time faculty members located on the main campus and at its clinical affiliates. In 2012, Einstein received over $160 million in awards from the NIH. This includes the funding of major research centers at Einstein in diabetes, cancer, liver disease, and AIDS. Other areas where the College of Medicine is concentrating its efforts include developmental brain research, neuroscience, cardiac disease, and initiatives to reduce and eliminate ethnic and racial health disparities. Its partnership with Montefiore Medical Center, the University Hospital and academic medical center for Einstein, advances clinical and translational research to accelerate the pace at which new discoveries become the treatments and therapies that benefit patients. Through its extensive affiliation network involving Montefiore, Jacobi Medical Center –Einstein's founding hospital, and five other hospital systems in the Bronx, Manhattan, Long Island and Brooklyn, Einstein runs one of the largest residency and fellowship training programs in the medical and dental professions in the United States. For more information, please visit www.einstein.yu.edu and follow us on Twitter @EinsteinMed.

SOURCE Albert Einstein College of Medicine



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