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Rochester Researchers Receive $12 Million Award to Visualize the Immune System in Action

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

NIH grant will help identify new strategies to enhance immune response

Photo of Minsoo Kim, David Topham, Deborah Fowell, James MillerCutting-edge imaging technologies that allow scientists to watch the immune system work in real time are leading to a greater understanding of how we combat infection and disease. With a new $12 million grant, researchers will use this knowledge to explore strategies to better fight infections like the flu and beat back overactive immune responses in disorders like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

The five-year project, led by Deborah J. Fowell, Ph.D., Dean’s Professor in the department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Rochester Medical Center, builds on a $9 million grant that her team received in 2014. Both program project grants were awarded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health.

“When we take cells out of their natural environment and study them in a dish we’re missing out on a lot of biology,” said David J. Topham, Ph.D., a study project leader and professor of Microbiology and Immunology at URMC. “Imaging and tracking live cells is an emerging theme in immunology and one that I think is going to move forward meaningful discoveries in the field.” 

In addition to Fowell and Topham, project leaders include Minsoo Kim, Ph.D.,James F. Miller, Ph.D., and Patrick Oakes, Ph.D. Scientists from Cornell and Loyola University will collaborate with the team, as well.

Read More: Rochester Researchers Receive $12 Million Award to Visualize the Immune System in Action

URA awards mirror Rochester's cutting-edge research

Friday, May 24, 2019

Originally called Provost’s Multidisciplinary Awards, the University Research Awards provide “seed” grants for promising, high-risk projects.

The fund has been increased from $500,000 annually to $1 million. Half of the funding comes from the President’s Fund, with the rest being matched by the various schools whose faculty members are recipients.

Applications were sought from faculty across the University, and funding is awarded to recipients who demonstrate their projects favor new research with a high probability of being leveraged by future external funding. A review committee of faculty from across the University provides peer review of the applications.

Two professors from CVBI were among this year's recipients. Sally Quataert, research associate professor, and Mark Sangster, research professor, both of microbiology and immunology, for Advancing Translational Research to Drive Universal Influenza Vaccine Development: Novel Methods for Assessing Clinical Antibody Responses.

One of the leading candidates for a universal influenza vaccine is the conserved stem/stalk region of the HA protein that mediates fusion of the virus with endosomal membrane, an important step in infection. This study’s multiple goals include developing clinical assay methods to detect and quantitate anti-stalk antibodies in sera and to assess antibody affinity/avidity and functional anti-fusion activity.

Read More: URA awards mirror Rochester's cutting-edge research