Dr. Carole Heilman chaired the January 24 NAAID Microbiology and Infectious Diseases Subcommittee meeting. Dr. Heilman introduced two members to the Subcommittee: 1) Dr. Martin Myers, a professor of pediatrics and preventive medicine and community health at the University of Texas Medical Branch and associate director for public health policy and education at the Sealy Center for Vaccine Development; and 2) Dr. Shelley Payne, a professor of molecular genetics and microbiology, member of the Institute of Cellular and Molecular Biology, and distinguished teaching professor at the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Heilman then turned to the Branch Chiefs/Acting Branch Chiefs in attendance to introduce their own respective new hires.
Dr. Heilman’s remarks focused on the role of NIH in the product development arena. She reported that this role has traditionally focused on providing critical data to support decision making about issues of great public health importance. NIAID has also undertaken risky research in areas in which the government is uniquely positioned to move products forward. She briefly described the “changing landscape,” with regard to NIAID’s role in biomedical research, i.e., the increased expectation that NIAID will be taking on much more responsibility for translational research, as well as for advanced product development. In response, NIAID has developed several targeted initiatives in recent years—utilizing new mechanisms such as challenge grants—designed to address gaps in product development and further develop the institute’s therapeutic pipeline.
Following her remarks, four concepts were presented for consideration:
Non Biodefense Partnerships: Tools for the Evaluation and Improvement of Women’s Health
Dr. Carolyn Deal, Chief of the Sexually Transmitted Infections Branch, presented the women’s reproductive health portion of this concept, which is designed to promote the development and evaluation of a variety of tools that will allow scientists to more fully understand the complex ecosystem of vaginal flora and pathogens in the context of the immune response of the female reproductive tract. The Subcommittee felt that this contract provides a valuable resource and an important infrastructure for the research community, and unanimously approved it.
Non-Biodefense Partnerships: Vaccines for Hepatitis C
Dr. Rajen Koshy, DMID’s Hepatitis C Program Officer, presented this concept, which is intended to take advantage of new findings and develop them into vaccine products that will induce certain desired immune responses. The concept has two primary goals: 1) develop vaccine products for chronic hepatitis C infection based on current and evolving knowledge; and 2) determine their potential to induce the requisite immune responses in mice and/or macaques. The Subcommittee unanimously approved the initiative.
Small Research Grants for International Research in Infectious Diseases at NIAID International Sites
Dr. Polly Sager, Assistant Director for International Research on Infectious Diseases, presented this concept for approval. This program will support small grants in eligible foreign countries to explore the feasibility, and initiate the planning of, collaborative infectious diseases research among investigators and institutions at international sites where NIAID has significant investment in research and/or infrastructure. The Subcommittee unanimously approved the initiative.
Development of Multivalent Recombinant Botulinum Vaccine
Dr. Martin Crumrine, Program Officer in DMID’s Office of Biodefense Research Affairs, reported that the “NIAID Blue Ribbon Panel on Bioterrorism and Its Implications for Biomedical Research” identified the development of vaccines against Botulinum toxins as a high priority for the country’s biodefense efforts; this concept is designed to advance this goal. The Subcommittee unanimously approved the initiative.
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Last Updated March 14, 2005