Bioterrorism Research Expands at Tulane

February 23, 2004

Madeline Vann
Phone: (504) 588-5221

Researchers in the department of microbiology and immunology recently received more than $4 million for projects investigating potential bioterrorism agents and strategies for preventing the spread of key disease agents such as anthrax and plague. The funding comes from the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Defense. Under the guidance of department chair John Clements, investigators not only will study how these organisms cause disease, but how they may be prevented using novel vaccine strategies developed at Tulane.

These strategies include oral and nasal vaccines, edible plant-based vaccines and skin patch vaccines that require no needles or refrigeration. The vaccines, once developed, should cost substantially less to deliver than traditional injections and provide more effective immunity, according to Clements. Clements received $300,000 from the DOD to study vaccines against plague, $610,500 from the NIH for a two-year grant to work on a vaccine that would protect against both plague and anthrax, and more than $2.3 million from the NIH for a five-year investigation into new formulations for biodefense vaccines.

"These grants build on an established history of vaccine development and infectious disease research in the department of microbiology and immunology," Clements said. "Researchers in this department have an international reputation for excellence in research in bacterial pathogenesis, viral pathogenesis and the pathogenesis of fungal diseases. We are at the forefront in the development of a coordinated approach to combat vaccine-preventable infectious diseases."

Other members of the department who have been funded for biodefense research include Lucy Freytag, who received $594,000 from the NIH for a two-year investigation of new approaches such as nasal sprays or skin patches for immunizing against anthrax.

Aline Scandurro, research assistant professor of microbiology/immunology, received $445,500 from the NIH for a two-year project analyzing the targets of the anthrax toxin on a cellular level, and Bob Garry, professor of microbiology, received $779,625 from the NIH for a three-year study on prevention of the disease caused by the Ebola virus.

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000