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September 2011
Your Colleagues
IDSA Congratulates the 2011 Joint Research Award Winners

The IDSA Education and Research Foundation (ERF) and the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) announce the winners of the 2011 IDSA ERF/NFID Joint Research Awards.

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

Katherine A. Plewes, MD, MSc, an infectious disease fellow at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, proposes a randomized trial to assess the effect of acetaminophen as an adjunct to artesunate in adults with severe falciparum malaria complicated by blackwater fever. Dr. Plewes hypothesizes that acetaminophen may decrease kidney injury in such patients by inhibiting the hemoglobin-induced lipid peroxidation of free hemoglobin released during massive hemolysis.

Astellas Postdoctoral Fellowship in Transplant Infectious Diseases

Margaret L. Pollack, MD, a fellow in the Division of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the University of Washington in Seattle, will investigate abortive cytomegalovirus (CMV) transmission from hematopoietic stem cell products to naïve CMV hosts. To further characterize patients with abortive infection and the role of neutralizing antibodies, Dr. Pollack will retrospectively correlate abortive CMV DNAemia and neutralizing antibody titers in a cohort of patients who were transplanted prior to the adoption of pp65 antigenemia/DNA-based pre-emptive treatment strategy and who did not develop replicative CMV infection.

Astellas Young Investigator Awards 

Jeffrey D. Dvorin, MD, PhD, assistant professor in the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Children’s Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School, focuses his project on novel therapies that target fundamental life cycle steps of Plasmodium falciparum, the agent that causes most severe cases of human malaria. Dr. Dvorin has identified a plant-like calcium-dependent protein kinase, PfCDPK5, which is crucial for P. falciparum egress. His proposal is to provide a molecular characterization of PfCDPK5 function with advanced genetic and cell biologic techniques. Because the egress life cycle step is not currently targeted by anti-malarials, the identification of the signaling pathway downstream of PfCDPK5 may identify new targets for malaria therapies.

Alexander Ploss, PhD, is an assistant research professor at The Rockefeller University in New York City. His proposal builds on a recent breakthrough from his research group—an engineered mouse that is permissive for hepatitis C virus (HCV) entry. The model, where human HCV entry factors are delivered either transiently or through germ line transgenesis, provides an in vivo model for studying inhibitors of the entry process, including virus-neutralizing antibodies. Dr. Ploss proposes to use state-of-the-art in vivo mutagenesis approaches, coupled with capture of HCV-permissive infected cells, to identify mutations that facilitate HCV replication in the murine cell environment. His goal is to create a fully HCV-permissive mouse model.

ASP-IDSA Young Investigator Award in Geriatrics 

Robin L.P. Jump, MD, PhD, an ID physician at Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center, aims to reduce the incidence of C. difficile infection among residents of long-term care facilities (LTCF). Her hypothesis is that colonization resistance established by the gut microbiota of older LTCF residents has delayed restoration following antibiotic exposure, rendering this population more vulnerable to C. difficile infection. Her study proposes to incorporate basic science (measuring changes in gut flora) and clinical research (a prospective observational cohort study to determine when patients are no longer vulnerable to C. difficile). This investigation is the first step in determining the specific bacteria taxa and their functions that maintain colonization resistance and developing evidence-based antibiotic stewardship programs to minimize the unintended, adverse effects of antibiotic exposure.

Pfizer Young Investigator Award in Vaccine Development

David K. Hong, MD, an instructor of pediatrics at Stanford University, proposes to better understand the mechanisms by which a novel adjuvant, cationic lipid/DNA complexes (CLDC), induces antigen-specific CD8T cells when injected with protein antigen. Dr. Hong will examine the role of CD8a+ dendritic cells, a specialized dendritic cell involved in cross-presenting antigen to prime naïve CD8 T cells. He will also examine the role of Type 1 interferons (interferon-a/b) in mediating cross-presentation in dendritic cells. Dr. Hong’s long-term goal is to study the role of adjuvants to improve vaccines for respiratory viruses in children. The ultimate goal is to develop improved vaccines that eliminate the need for precisely matched influenza strains every year.

More information about the 2011 Joint Research Award Winners is available online.

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