U Pathology Researchers Receive $1.2 Million NIH Grant

U Pathology Researchers Receive $1.2 Million NIH Grant

Oct 4, 2004 6:00 PM

To help meet the nation's increasing need for scientists trained in microbial pathogenesis, the study of disease-producing microorganisms, the University of Utah School of Medicine's Department of Pathology was recently awarded a $1.2 million grant by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The Training Program in Microbial Pathogenesis received the five-year grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a part of the NIH, said Janis J. Weis, Ph.D., program director and professor in the Division of Cell Biology and Immunology at the medical school's pathology department.

"The persistent threat of emerging infectious diseases such as HIV, the growing importance of defending ourselves against bioterrorism, and the prevalence of antibiotic-resistant organisms have all led to a national recognition of the need to train more scientists in the field of microbial pathogenesis," said Weis.

The grant, made in August, will support the research of three graduate students and three postdoctoral fellows from the departments of Pathology, Biochemistry, and Medicinal Chemistry. Their work, focusing on the interaction of pathogenic microorganisms with hosts, may lead to new therapies for different viral, bacterial, and fungal infections. Their projects aim to get a better understanding of:

. Host factors involved in HIV replication; . Mechanism of HIV-induced killing of immune cells;

. Survival of E. coli within bladder cells as a cause of recurrent urinary tract infection;

. Structural models of virus entry into host cells;

. Drug targets for novel metabolic pathways of pathogenic fungi.

The interdepartmental training program grew out of a twice-a-month lecture series that brought together basic scientists and clinicians from across the University. The five-year-old lecture series continues today. Research done in the program encompasses the areas of virology, bacteriology, mycology, parasitology, and immunology.

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