New Scientific Program in 2001:Global Infectious Disease

For the past three years, the Ellison Medical Foundation has been actively engaged in supporting research on the biology of aging. The Foundation is now pleased to announce the addition of another major program to its growing portfolio, namely Molecular Pathogenesis and Global Infectious Disease. As with the EMF-Aging project, EMF-GID will center on the most basic research on molecular and cellular mechanisms of disease, informed by the vision of how this can ameliorate some of humankind's most pressing problems. Special attention will be afforded to tuberculosis, malaria and parasitoses which account for much of the world's morbidity, and are grossly neglected in federally funded research in the U.S

Both projects will be overseen by a science advisory board comprised of Dr. Richard Sprott, Executive Director, Ellison Medical Foundation; Joshua Lederberg, Board Chairman, Rockefeller University (Nobel Prize 1958); Eric Kandel, Columbia University (Nobel Prize 2000); Arnold Levine, Rockefeller University; George Martin, University of Washington; and Gerald Weissmann, NYU School of Medicine.

For the present, awards will be mainly confined to U.S.- based institutions, but special attention will be given to encouraging collaborations with partner-institutions overseas offering the opportunity for exchange of students and training that merges laboratory skills and field experience. The Foundation, as in the past, will work closely with government agencies, international bodies and societies and other foundations with shared goals.

The principal vehicle of support will be the subvention of individual research scholars in the full range from graduate students to established investigators. This will be supplemented by awards for conferences, publications and electronic communications, special training courses and infrastructure support for scientific-community oriented resources. The Oracle Corporation is already providing support for the web site which promotes rapid communication of information about new disease outbreaks among infectious disease specialists worldwide.

The following set of themes and sub themes is illustrative; the EMF-GID board welcomes suggestions from the scientific community about innovative conceptual approaches to meet the GID challenge.

Any fundamental studies on exotic microbes and diseases*
Our microbiome: natural microflora and pathogen ecology and evolution
Therapeutic role of probiotics
Diet, nutrition and immunity
Implications of disease eradication
Zoonoses: wildlife and human disease
Comparative immunology
Threats from newly explored habitats
Host factors, human genomics and disease susceptibility
Signaling and gene flow between parasites & hosts
Parasite molecular mimicry
Fever and other symptomatology
Plasmid and phage determinants of virulence
Phylogeny and ultimate origins of viruses
New concepts for antivirals and antiparasitics
Nosocomial infection and sanitary precaution
Dyshygenic abuse of antibiotics and microbicides
*Investigations on model systems and familiar diseases are by no means precluded, but should be informed by a vision of their applicability to the global disease burden.

It is expected that the inauguration of the Global Infectious Disease Program will attract the caliber of basic researchers whose work holds great promise for scientific breakthroughs leading to amelioration of infectious disease worldwide.