BD Biosciences, a segment of BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company), announced today the spring 2011 winners of its Research Grant Program.
“Basic immunology research has proved to be a rich source of translational medicine,” said Robert Balderas, Vice President, Biological Sciences, BD Biosciences. “BD is pleased to support the work of these scientists who are investigating immunologic factors that may one day be harnessed to treat a wide range of serious diseases.”
An independent panel of distinguished scientists selected the winners. Each recipient will receive a $10,000 grant of research reagents to help them conduct their studies.
The winners of the BD Biosciences Research Grant Program for the spring 2011 cycle are:
• Richard Robinson, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Medical College of Wisconsin, studies the effect of interleukin-12 receptor β1 (IL12Rβ1), a receptor generated by multiple immune cells that spans the cell membrane and binds to the p40-domain of IL 12 and IL 23, and IL 12p40 homodimer. These cytokines broadly affect immune responses involved in both pathogen-driven immunity and autoimmunity. Dr. Robinson hopes to determine the relationship between levels of an isoform of IL12Rβ1, sIL12Rβ1, on the transformation of T-cells into T-effector lymphocytes in a mouse tuberculosis model and in human peripheral blood lymphocytes.
• Christopher Grigsby, a Ph.D. candidate at Duke University, is engineering polymeric nanocomplexes for oral delivery of therapeutic genes. His approach uses a gene-chitosan nanocomplex coated in a pH-sensitive polymer that helps release the gene in the intestines rather than the stomach. Gene complexes are taken up through endocytosis and migrate to the nucleus, where they instruct the cell to produce therapeutic proteins. This platform technology has broad application to diseases caused by missing proteins, for example hemophilia and diabetes. Mr. Grigsby’s abstract is titled,“Oral Delivery of the Factor VIII Gene: Immunotherapy for Hemophilia A.”
• Michael Sheard, Ph.D., Director, Flow Cytometry Core Facility, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, plans to use his BD reagent grant to study natural killer cell-based immunotherapy for neuroblastoma. His first objective is to isolate natural killer cells from peripheral blood and expand them to clinically relevant numbers using feeder cells. The expansion process will be combined with ex vivo drug treatment using the approved myeloma drug lenalidomide. A key aspect of this study will be to observe the functional and phenotypic changes in expanded immune cell populations treated with the drug. Dr. Sheard’s abstract is titled,“Effect of Lenalidomide on the Anti-Neuroblastoma Cytotoxicity of Human Natural Killer Cells Expanded from Blood Using K562-IL21 Feeder Cells.”
• Flavia Pereira, PhD., Post-doctoral fellow at the University of Connecticut Health Center, studies the involvement of immune system cells involved in healing after a myocardial infarction. This complex process begins with the migration of monocytes and fibrocytes to the damaged heart tissue. These cells then initiate a cascade of events leading to inflammation, scar formation, and tissue remodeling. Dr. Pereira will examine the role of CD13, an aminopeptidase that mediates the trafficking of these cell types to the injured tissue. Dr. Pereira’s abstract is titled,“Role of CD13 in Wound Healing after Myocardial Infarction.”
• Doris Lambracht-Washington, Ph.D., Assistant Instructor, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Department of Neurology, is developing a preclinical-stage vaccine for treating and preventing Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The most prevalent form of dementia in the elderly, AD affects four million Americans and costs society $100 billion in medical costs and lost productivity. Dr. Lambracht-Washington will use a gene-based vaccine that will cause the subject’s own cells to manufacture the amyloid-beta antigen. She plans to test this strategy in mice and quantify the animals’ immune and inflammatory response status. Dr. Lambracht-Washington’s abstract is titled,“Phenotypic and functional characterization of T cell subsets generated in DNA Abeta42 trimer immunized mice to determine safety in immunotherapy for Alzheimer’s disease.”
• Dean Lee, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, investigates adoptive natural killer (NK) cell immunotherapy for treating cancer. Dr. Lee has discovered a technique for expanding functioning NK cells to clinically meaningful numbers. His BD grant project involves the enhancement of NK cell activity through interleukin-21, which induces the apoptosis inhibitor STAT3. Understanding this mechanism could lead to more effective NK-based cancer therapies. Dr. Lee’s abstract is titled,“Expanded NK Cells for Adoptive Immunotherapy.”
• Yael Korin, Ph.D., Associated Researcher, UCLA Immunogenetics Center, will identify and validate immunological biomarkers in peripheral blood that may help predict tolerance in pediatric liver transplant recipients. Dr. Korin plans to use immunophenotyping to compare characteristics of peripheral blood lymphocytes from tolerant liver transplant recipients with cells from non-tolerant and to stable recipients. The goal is to define a phenotype profile that defines immune tolerance, and hence patients who are candidates for minimization or complete withdrawal from immunosuppressive therapy. Dr. Korin’s abstract is titled,“Use of Immunophenotyping to Develop an Immune Profile of Tolerance in Pediatric Liver Transplant Recipients.”
Additional information about the BD Biosciences Grant Program is available at bdbiosciences.com/grant.
About the BD Biosciences Research Grant Program
BD Biosciences’ Research Grant Program aims to reward and enable important research by providing vital funding for scientists pursuing innovative experiments to advance the scientific understanding of disease. The grant submissions are judged by a distinguished research panel of non-affiliated scientists. Through its grant program, BD Biosciences (bdbiosciences.com) supports innovation in research and development as well as help enable the next generation of scientific breakthroughs.
BD (bd.com) , a leading global medical technology company that manufactures and sells medical devices, instrument systems and reagents, is dedicated to improving people’s health throughout the world. BD is focused on improving drug therapy, enhancing the quality and speed of diagnosing infectious diseases, and advancing research and discovery of new drugs and vaccines. The Company’s capabilities are instrumental in combating many of the world’s most pressing diseases. Founded in 1897 and headquartered in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, BD employs approximately 29,000 associates in more than 50 countries throughout the world. The Company serves healthcare institutions, life science researchers, clinical laboratories, industry and the general public.