July 12, 2005
NEW ORLEANS - Tulane University is slated to receive nearly $1.3 million from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) to study immune control of HIV infection. Tulane is participating in an international research partnership led by UAB, which recently received $16.3 million from the Grand Challenges in Global Health initiative. In this project, headed by George M. Shaw at the UAB School of Medicine, James E. Robinson, professor of pediatrics - infectious diseases at Tulane, will collaborate with a team of scientists from the U.S., Europe and Africa to study how the immune systems of patients recently infected with HIV change as they respond to the virus, as well as how the virus changes to adapt to the host.
By better understanding the immune system as it responds to HIV, this project aims to guide the development of a vaccine to prevent HIV infection. "Upon exposure to HIV, most individuals develop an early immune response that limits but does not stop the virus from spreading throughout the body and destroying host immune defenses," Robinson says. "Gaining a better understanding the initial strengths and ultimate weaknesses of the natural immune response to the virus may guide us in designing an effective HIV vaccine."
The Grand Challenges in Global Health initiative is an international effort to use science and technology to create effective health tools that are inexpensive to produce, easy to distribute, and simple to use in developing countries.
Launched in 2003, the initiative focuses on 14 challenges, identified by scientists from around the world, that if solved could have a profound impact on improving health in the world's poorest countries. The Grand Challenges initiative has offered funding to 43 groundbreaking research projects, which were selected from more than 1,500 requests for funding.
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