NIAID announces new human immunology research awards to help fight emerging infectious diseases

November 04, 2009

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, has awarded approximately $208 million to two programs that support research to better understand the human immune response to emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases, including those that may be introduced into a community through acts of bioterrorism.

The grants were awarded to the Cooperative Centers for Translational Research on Human Immunology and Biodefense (CCHI) and the Immune Mechanisms of Virus Control (IMVC), NIAID also has received approximately $21 million under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to supplement these two programs and fund some additional researchers. This funding is part of the $5 billion awarded by NIH in FY 2009 for research projects under the Recovery Act.

The long-term goal of the CCHI and IMVC programs is to identify new vaccines and drug targets.

"A better understanding of how the human immune system responds to these infections should provide new approaches for developing prevention tools and therapeutics," says Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., director of NIAID, the lead Institute at NIH responsible for immunology and biodefense research.

The CCHI program, established in 2003, focuses on basic research and preclinical research of potential benefit to humans. CCHI research will include developing new vaccines to protect against infectious diseases such as influenza, dengue fever, anthrax and hepatitis C; understanding how immune protection is achieved; and determining how harmless microorganisms in the lungs, intestines and other mucosal surfaces protect against harmful microbes that enter the body through these sites.

The following eight investigators have been awarded a total of approximately $130 million over the next five years under the CCHI program:The following investigator has received two-year funding through the Recovery Act to participate in the CCHI program:The following investigators have received one year of supplemental Recovery Act funding in addition to their CCHI program funding:The IMVC program builds on a set of exploratory grants awarded in 2007. The current phase is a substantially larger effort that addresses key questions related to how the immune system responds to viruses.

IMVC investigators will use animal models and conduct studies in people to understand all aspects of the immune response to viruses, including early immune responses (innate, or inborn, immunity) and antibody and immune cell memory responses that protect against repeat infections (adaptive immunity). Since cells of mucosal tissue comprise the primary barrier to many viruses, mucosal immunity in the gut or lungs also will be studied.

Some specific IMVC projects include studying how the immune response in the brain combats rabies virus infection; identifying immune markers that correlate with surviving Ebola infection; and finding new drugs to treat viral infections.

The following 14 investigators have been awarded a total of approximately $78 million over the next five years under the IMVC program:The following four awardees have received Recovery Act funding and will participate in the IMVC program for two years: "Developing vaccines and treatments for emerging pathogens continues to be a priority for NIAID," says Daniel Rotrosen, M.D., director of the NIAID Division of Allergy, Immunology and Transplantation. "The CCHI and IMVC programs will foster collaboration among many talented investigators working toward the common goal of understanding the human immune response to infectious diseases and developing more effective measures to prevent and treat infection."
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The activities described in this release are being funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. More information about NIH's Recovery Act grant funding opportunities can be found at http://grants.nih.gov/recovery/. To track the progress of HHS activities funded through the Recovery Act, visit www.hhs.gov/recovery. To track all federal funds provided through the Recovery Act, visit www.recovery.gov.

NIAID conducts and supports research--at NIH, throughout the United States, and worldwide--to study the causes of infectious and immune-mediated diseases, and to develop better means of preventing, diagnosing and treating these illnesses. News releases, fact sheets and other NIAID-related materials are available on the NIAID Web site at http://www.niaid.nih.gov.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH)--The Nation's Medical Research Agency--includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit http://www.nih.gov.

NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

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