December 4, 2012 – (Bronx, NY) – Scientists at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have been awarded two Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE) grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for their innovative global health and development research projects. The grant recipients are Arturo Casadevall, M.D., Ph.D., who is working to create a novel vaccine for tuberculosis (TB), and Ekaterina Dadachova, Ph.D., and Joan Berman, Ph.D., for their work on a novel and promising HIV treatment.
Arturo Casadevall, M.D., Ph.D.Dr. Casadevall, professor and chair of microbiology & immunology and professor of medicine, was named one of the 80 GCE Round 9 winners for his unconventional approach to developing a vaccine for TB. While current TB vaccines are designed to provoke immune cells to attack the bacteria that cause the disease, Dr. Casadevall proposes a different tack – harnessing the tremendous potential of antibodies to kill the invaders and prevent the development of the disease.
Dr. Dadachova, professor of radiology and of microbiology & immunology, and Dr. Berman, professor of pathology and of microbiology & immunology, received a Phase II GCE grant to study whether radioimmunotherapy (RIT) can kill the HIV virus in latently infected cells. In RIT, radioactive isotopes attached to antibodies selectively target and destroy cells. Since current anti-retroviral therapy drugs cannot reach the brain, they will also investigate whether the RIT approach can destroy HIV in the central nervous system. The project, which builds on Dr. Dadachova's earlier GCE research with Dr. Casadevall, is one of only 15 projects that advanced to the next level. Drs. Dadachova and Berman will work in collaboration with Dr. Casadevall, New York University researchers Susan Zolla-Pazner, Ph.D., and Miroslaw Gorny, M.D., Ph.D., and Alfred Morgenstern, Ph.D., and Frank Bruchertseifer, Ph.D., from the Institute of Transuranium Elements in Karlsruhe, Germany, who supply valuable radioisotopes for the project.
Ekaterina Dadachova, Ph.D. (left), Joan Berman, Ph.D. (right)GCE funds researchers worldwide who are taking innovative approaches to some of the world's toughest and persistent global health and development challenges. GCE invests in the early stages of bold ideas that may help to solve the problems confronting people in the developing world every day.
"Investments in innovative global health research are already paying off," said Chris Wilson, director of Global Health Discovery and Translational Sciences at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "We continue to be impressed by the novelty and innovative spirit of Grand Challenges Explorations projects and are enthusiastic about this exciting research. These investments hold real potential to yield new solutions to improve the health of millions of people in the developing world, and ensure that everyone has the chance to live a healthy productive life."
Dr. Casadevall also holds the Leo and Julia Forchheimer Chair in Microbiology & Immunology and Dr. Dadachova is the Sylvia and Robert S. Olnick Faculty Scholar in Cancer Research.