Rockefeller University funds clinical, translational pilot studies

The Rockefeller University Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS) has announced the recipients of its 2008 Pilot Project grants.

Eight Rockefeller researchers will each receive $25,000 from the center to fund early studies in translational science that, if successful, might lead to clinical trials. The CCTS and the grant program are in their second year, established through funds from a Clinical and Translational Science Award the university received from the National Center for Research Resources of the National Institutes of Health. In its first year, the program provided $165,000 for nine clinical studies.

The center's administration selected the 2008 pilot projects from among proposals submitted in the fall. The recipients are:

Marina Caskey, an instructor in clinical investigation, to compare the efficacy of poly IC and Ampligen as adjuvants for an HIV vaccine targeted at DEC-205, an antigen receptor on dendritic cells.

Delivette Castor, instructor in clinical investigation, to apply demographic, psychosocial, sexual and drug use history and other data gathered from 280 men who have sex with men to examine the roles of these factors in the risk of HIV-1 infection and transmitted drug resistance.

Mouquet Hugo, postdoctoral fellow in Michel Nussenzweig's Laboratory of Molecular Immunology, to elucidate the etiology of Pemphigus vulgaris, a life-threatening autoimmune disease affecting skin and mucosa, by comparing repertoires of autoreactive and polyreactive B cells in patients with the disease to those of healthy volunteers.

Igor Kravets, instructor in clinical investigation, to examine the mechanism of action of disulfiram, a drug commonly used to treat chronic alcoholism, with regard to cocaine addiction.

Jan Lunemann, postdoctoral fellow in Christian Münz's Laboratory of Viral Immunobiology, to test the hypothesis that a cause of multiple sclerosis is an aberrant response of the central nervous system to the Epstein Barr virus on the level of virus-infected B cells.

Lisa Neff, instructor in clinical investigation, to test the hypothesis that the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diet and the low glycemic index diet improve insulin sensitivity in patients with insulin resistance and/or metabolic syndrome.

Swaroop Pendyala, instructor in clinical investigation, to determine if significant weight loss achieved by dieting decreases chronic inflammation in the colorectal epithelium and reduces fecal calprotectin levels.

Alexander Ploss, postdoctoral associate in Charles Rice's Laboratory of Virology and Infectious Disease, to generate patient-specific human hepatocytes as a renewable source for primary liver tissue.

Rockefeller University has a long history of clinical and translational research. The Rockefeller University Hospital, built in 1910 as an integral part of the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research (the university's original name), was the birthplace of American biomedical and translational science, being the first hospital in the United States devoted primarily to medical research. Many scientific discoveries made at Rockefeller have had a dramatic impact on medicine, including the landmark 1944 discovery by Oswald Avery, Colin MacLeod and Maclyn McCarty that DNA is the chemical substance of heredity, which grew out of studies of patients with pneumococcal pneumonia; the development of methadone treatment to manage heroin addiction by Vincent Dole, Marie Nyswander and Mary Jeanne Kreek; and the development of multiple drug regimens to treat HIV/AIDS, based on human studies of the dynamics of viral replication by David Ho and his colleagues.

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