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September 2010
Your Colleagues
IDSA Congratulates the 2010 Joint Research Award Winners

The IDSA Education and Research Foundation (ERF) and the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) announce the winners of the 2010 IDSA ERF/NFID Joint Research Awards.

Merle A. Sande/Pfizer Fellowship Award in International Infectious Diseases

Christina S. Polyak, MD, MPH, an infectious disease fellow at the University of Washington, aims to examine the effect of discontinuing trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (TMP/SMZ) in HIV-infected adults in Kenya on highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) who have immune reconstituted with CD4 counts above 350 cells/mm3. While TMP/SMZ is relatively inexpensive, the overall cost to the health care system of providing the medication and monitoring toxicity and response is significant, warranting further exploration. 

 Astellas Young Investigator Awards



Suzanne Noble, MD, PhD, assistant professor in the Departments of Medicine (Division of Infectious Diseases) and of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), will determine the logic of Candida albicans iron acquisition from the host. Her first aim is to identify the mechanisms of Sef1 regulation and to test the hypothesis that covalent modification of Sef1 results in its activation in low-iron environments. Her second aim is to determine whether selected components of the Sef1 regulon are themselves virulence effectors. Overall, her research will provide a better understanding of the set of pathogenic specializations and strategies that allow a human fungal commensal to survive and succeed in the host environment. 

Jennifer A. Philips, MD, PhD, assistant professor in the Departments of Medicine and Pathology at New York University Medical Center, will determine which host factors play an important role controlling bacterial growth in human macrophages and characterize the novel EsxH-Hgs pathogen-host interaction. To identify host defense pathways, her team performed an RNA interference (RNAi) screen in murine macrophages, looking for enhanced growth of Mycobacterium smegmatis. By fully exploiting RNAi and quickly embracing novel technologies, she hopes to make fundamental observations that will enable better therapeutics for tuberculosis.


 ASP Young Investigator Award in Geriatrics


Vera P. Luther, MD, assistant professor of medicine in the Section of Infectious Diseases at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, will conduct research to define specific physician decision factors, outside of medical knowledge, that influence the prescription of antimicrobials and the decision to de-escalate therapy in hospitalized elderly patients. A better understanding of the decision factors that result in physicians’ overprescribing antibiotics is needed to develop and target effective interventions to improve antimicrobial use among clinicians who treat older adults.

Pfizer Young Investigator Award in Vaccine Development 


Wendy W. Yeh, MD, an instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, will develop a SIV/rhesus monkey penile challenge model for the study of acute HIV-1 immunopathogenesis and the evaluation of candidate AIDS vaccines. Her proposed research will refine this in vivo model so that SIV infections can be transmitted more reliably and the rate of infection can be titrated to appropriately address specific scientific questions. She will validate this animal model for HIV-1 vaccine and pathogenesis research by characterizing the kinetics of viral replication and the transmitted/founder variants in SIV penile transmission, as well as the clinical outcome of SIV infection acquired via the foreskin. Dr. Yeh hypothesizes that this novel animal model of mucosal transmission will predict more accurately the ability of candidate vaccines and microbicides to block mucosal HIV-1 transmission in the male genital tract.

More information about the 2010 Joint Research Award Winners is available online.
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