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Author Topic: Increased funding has researchers fired up  (Read 3619 times)

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Offline freewillie99

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Increased funding has researchers fired up
« on: May 08, 2009, 10:26:28 AM »
Think of all the great research that's going to come from this.  And to any of you right wing fascists / dittoheads out there who might object to the spending, keep in mind that $10 billion is one month in Iraq.  Thanks, Bush.

"‘On the Cusp’ Cancer, HIV Success Gets $10.4 Billion Obama Push"

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601124&sid=a0AEPStem.zY&refer=home

May 6 (Bloomberg) -- A record $10.4 billion infusion of taxpayer money for U.S. medical research this year may provide Theodora Hatziioannou with the staff and equipment needed to further the quest for an HIV vaccine.

The New York researcher suspects she’s found a better way to test vaccines before they are given to humans. Proving her finding will work requires expanding her research team and facilities at a cost of about $160,000, money she says she doesn’t have. Now, she says, she has new hope.

Hatziioannou is among more than 15,000 scientists already competing to dip into an unparalleled 30 percent jump in the budget for the National Institutes of Health, the top U.S. provider of grants to universities, hospitals and companies. The money is part of President Barack Obama’s $787 billion plan to aid the economy through spending on jobs and equipment. In the NIH’s case, it may also seed breakthrough findings on obesity, AIDS, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and cancer, scientists said.

“So many important discoveries are on the cusp of being made,” said Richard B. Marchase, president of the Bethesda, Maryland-based Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, whose group represents 22 scientific societies with a combined 90,000 members. “This is important for scientists” seeking to create the new drugs, vaccines and devices needed to battle disease, he said.

The University of Chicago alone has filed 180 applications for research funding, or five times their usual yearly submission, said Martha O’Connell, a spokeswoman. The school’s requests include money to study breast and lung tumors, and mesothelioma, a malignancy of internal membranes that’s been tied to asbestos exposure.

‘New Avenue’

Hatziioannou, 39, says she’s requested that an existing grant be expanded to help her build on recent discoveries about monkey proteins. The protein discovery “is a whole new avenue we hadn’t even thought of before,” Hatziioannou said in an interview. Her aim is to find a way to have the animals’ bodies more closely mimic the way the human body would respond when given experimental AIDS drugs.

“It’s been very tough to get money over the last few years,” said Hatziioannou, who works at Manhattan’s private Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center. “The only problem I see with the stimulus funding is that it’s limited to two years.”

‘Stunningly Large’

The increase is “a stunningly large number,” said Shirley M. Tilghman, a molecular biologist and president of Princeton University, in Princeton, New Jersey, in an interview. “It is unprecedented. There has never been anything like it.”

Researchers at Princeton, which doesn’t have a medical school, have submitted 41 applications to work on genomics and molecular biology, said A. J. Stewart Smith, the university’s dean of research.

The 15,000 applicants so far have sought “Challenge Grants,” according to figures supplied by the agency. Those focus on “new approaches” to HIV, cancer and pain management, along with other categories identified by the agency.

NIH is still expecting thousands more grant applications for a broader range of research and infrastructure, which includes buildings and equipment.

The yearly budget for the 27 research agencies and centers that make up the NIH has stayed at about $29 billion since 2005. The budget for this fiscal year is $30.4 billion, not including the stimulus.

Congress, under President Bill Clinton, began boosting NIH spending in 1998, when it was $13.7 billion. Annual increases of 15 percent brought the level to more than $27 billion in 2003. Under President George W. Bush, the budget grew $900 million in 2004 and $600 million in 2005, then stagnated, the NIH said.

AIDS Center

Clinton’s budget for the agency also established an AIDS vaccine research center to find a cure for the disease within ten years.

The Obama stimulus money must be spent by the end of September 2010, according to the legislation approving it. Obama is expected to seek a further $6 billion for the NIH in his formal budget plan to be introduced tomorrow, according to an outline published by the administration in February.

Historically, about two-thirds of research dollars go toward jobs, said Shandy Hussman, a managing director at Huron Consulting Group, a higher education consulting practice in Chicago. Between 240,000 and 270,000 people work now as the direct result of funding from the National Institutes, the U.S. agency says.

Construction, Equipment

The $10.4 billion also includes $1.3 billion for construction and equipment purchases at universities and institutions.

“There will be investments in infrastructure that will last many years,” said John Holdren, Obama’s science adviser, in an interview. “That creates value that soldiers on after the money’s been spent and will be used to do research over time.”

By channeling dollars into gene-based research, the stimulus bill will also spur sales of expensive equipment supplied by Illumina Inc., of San Diego, and Luminex Corp., of Austin, Texas, said Les Funtleyder, a health-care strategist at the brokerage house Miller Tabak & Co. in New York.

The growing field of genetic analysis would get a boost from the stimulus funding, he said in a telephone interview. “This is definitely going to add some momentum to it,” Funtleyder said.

20 Percent Growth

His firm is forecasting growth of 15 percent to 20 percent for some companies that produce equipment for gene-based research, which he estimates is currently a $3 billion market.

Hatziioannou said she gets most of her research equipment from Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc., of Waltham, Massachusetts. Hatziioannou already has two research assistants and $250,000 a year from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, one of the National Institutes.

The Greek-born assistant professor, educated in the U.K. and France, said she won’t be able to build on the protein discovery without the $161,000, two-year grant she has applied for to buy liquid media for growing cells, and purchase gear such as a $500 “rotisserie,” a piece of equipment that holds test tubes.

“I need to expand the lab to capitalize on this finding,” she said. She said she will also hire a technician.

Many of the jobs created by the stimulus funds will go to an army of scientists with doctorates --“post docs” -- who are paid a salary by their institution or research center while depending on grants from the government or donors, even drug companies, to carry out their work.

Training the Virus

Hatziioannou’s team would focus on proteins that protect rhesus monkeys from HIV-1, the virus that causes most human AIDS. Rhesus monkeys are among the most commonly used animal models for testing AIDS drugs. If Hatziioannou’s team can teach the virus to overcome these proteins, the monkeys could provide a better animal model for testing HIV-1 vaccines before they are used in humans. Currently, no virus based on HIV-1 can infect animals, Hatziioannou said.

“This model could be extremely important,” said James Bradac, a virologist at the AIDS division of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the supplier of Hatziioannou’s existing grant.

“If this model developed at the Aaron Diamond does reproduce the pathogenic situation that you see in HIV in humans, we’ll now be able to test the full spectrum of HIV isolates,” Bradac said in a telephone interview.

Hatziioannou and researchers like her who already have government grants made the first round of applications for supplemental dollars on April 21. The next deadline, on April 27, was for $200 million in “Challenge Grants.”

Theranostics, Treatment Comparisons

The call for Challenge Grant applications is the largest in the National Institutes’ history, says Raynard Kington, the agency’s acting director. Speaking March 26 to Congress, Kington said that besides new approaches to AIDS, cancer and pain management, grants will fund research into theranostics -- materials that can diagnose and treat a condition.

The Challenge Grants also reflect the Obama administration’s agenda, said Peter B. Bach, a pulmonary critical care physician at New York’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

Some $400 million will be used to make side by side comparisons of medical treatments, to see if in fact the newest, most expensive drug, device or procedure always works best. One grant description calls for comparing existing imaging technology used to screen for breast cancer.

“We don’t know if we gain benefits, but we know these technologies drive cost,” said Bach, 44, who has worked using grants from the institutes for the past 10 years and probably will apply again.

A ‘Sea-Change’

“This is a sea-change in the way NIH is operating and the way Congress is thinking about using taxpayer funds to drive a research agenda that affects a critical health-care agenda, namely the dysfunction of the health-care system,” Bach said.

Still, many researchers are concerned that the Sept. 30, 2010, deadline to distribute funds risks limiting research, particularly for the Challenge Grants, which are supposed to show results by 2011.

“You can’t just throw a switch and get a proposal going immediately, even if the project’s already approved,” said Albert H. Teich, director of science and policy programs at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a Washington-based group that calls itself the “voice” for science. “You have to bring people aboard, start collaborations. With lab rats you’ve got to go through a few generations.”

The two-year limit is “barely enough to explore a new idea,” Hatziioannou said. Even so, she won’t complain too much.

“If not for NIH, I wouldn’t be doing this job,” said Hatziioannou, who earned her doctorate in 1999, from Claude Bernard University in Lyon, France, and, after years of post-doc work, became an assistant professor at Aaron Diamond in 2006.
Beware Romanians bearing strange gifts

Offline Inchlingblue

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Re: Increased funding has researchers fired up
« Reply #1 on: May 08, 2009, 02:06:24 PM »
Hatziioannou’s team would focus on proteins that protect rhesus monkeys from HIV-1, the virus that causes most human AIDS. Rhesus monkeys are among the most commonly used animal models for testing AIDS drugs. If Hatziioannou’s team can teach the virus to overcome these proteins, the monkeys could provide a better animal model for testing HIV-1 vaccines before they are used in humans. Currently, no virus based on HIV-1 can infect animals, Hatziioannou said.

Great news about the money for more research.

Re: the quote above, what about instead of teaching "the virus to overcome these proteins," we find out if these proteins that protect rhesus monkeys can also protect humans from HIV-1 infection@!?  I'm no researcher but it sounds like something worth exploring, right?
« Last Edit: May 08, 2009, 05:58:24 PM by Inchlingblue »

Offline freewillie99

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Re: Increased funding has researchers fired up
« Reply #2 on: May 08, 2009, 02:59:15 PM »
what about instead of teaching "the virus to overcome these proteins," instead we find out if these proteins that protect rhesus monkeys can also protect humans from HIV-1 infection@!? 

Feel free to write Dr. Hatziioannou.  No doubt she'll take your suggestions into account.
Beware Romanians bearing strange gifts

Offline veritas

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Re: Increased funding has researchers fired up
« Reply #3 on: May 08, 2009, 04:22:48 PM »

Free,

This news is wonderful ! As I'm sure your aware ,The Aaron Diamond Inst is a member of the Chavi group and with all the research money coming from diverse sources ,there will definitely be some great news coming out on the HIV front sooner rather than later. The Gates Foundation started this ball rolling. The Obama Presidency is picking up the gauntlet. The stem cell decision was the tip-off.

To quote from the movie LongTime Companion: " When the cure comes, I want to be there."

Great news!

v

Offline Inchlingblue

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Re: Increased funding has researchers fired up
« Reply #4 on: May 08, 2009, 06:28:22 PM »
Feel free to write Dr. Hatziioannou.  No doubt she'll take your suggestions into account.

LOL, ya know, that never occurred to me but you're right.  I actually just sent her an email, I made it short and to-the point so she doesn't think I'm some sort of crackpot offering suggestions for AIDS cures, lol.

Offline azprince

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Re: Increased funding has researchers fired up
« Reply #5 on: May 10, 2009, 04:02:11 PM »
could someone clarify? would this prevent infection or help cure people as well, if it will help cure, why is it that I read that Doctors say that not in any coming decades we will see a cure?
I have to admit : the good thing is that from now on;  I have no option but to succeed , still its ok to worry :))

Offline freewillie99

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Re: Increased funding has researchers fired up
« Reply #6 on: May 10, 2009, 04:20:10 PM »
could someone clarify? would this prevent infection or help cure people as well, if it will help cure, why is it that I read that Doctors say that not in any coming decades we will see a cure?

Azprince,

The point wasn't about this individual researcher, it was about the 10 billion dollar increase in research funding that the Obama administration has orchestrated.  As for "Doctors" saying that there will be no cure in "coming decades", not sure where you came by this piece of information.  There are several promising avenues of testing and research ongoing and it's anyone's guess when a cure for HIV infection will be realized, functional or otherwise.
Beware Romanians bearing strange gifts

Offline azprince

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Re: Increased funding has researchers fired up
« Reply #7 on: May 10, 2009, 04:28:48 PM »
I hope they find a cure, i was just intrigued by the idea that they are searching for a vaccine, I wonder if the research is going in the direction of prevention only, i hope not!!
I have to admit : the good thing is that from now on;  I have no option but to succeed , still its ok to worry :))

Offline azprince

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Re: Increased funding has researchers fired up
« Reply #8 on: May 10, 2009, 04:29:36 PM »
To be clear, I hope its on both sides, prevent and cure, I dont want to live on Meds for the rest of my life :'(
I have to admit : the good thing is that from now on;  I have no option but to succeed , still its ok to worry :))

Offline sensual1973

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Re: Increased funding has researchers fired up
« Reply #9 on: May 11, 2009, 01:14:54 PM »
could someone clarify? would this prevent infection or help cure people as well, if it will help cure, why is it that I read that Doctors say that not in any coming decades we will see a cure?

doctors are paid by pharma companies to prescribe their drugs so i dont expect them to help me keep my hopes high for a cure.
God grant me the serenity to accept the things i can not change.

Online Assurbanipal

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Re: Increased funding has researchers fired up
« Reply #10 on: May 11, 2009, 07:57:44 PM »
With all the people already infected with HIV there is a large market for a therapeutic medicine as well as a preventative.  Companies will want to have the best medicine for that (large) market.  They are unlikely to stop with just a preventative vaccine. Nor would governments, who bear a lot of the cost of treating those already infected, have an incentive to stop there.

And as far as the suggestion that pharma companies will prevent research on a cure that is just silly.  Whoever gets a cure out first will have an enormous market and considerable pricing power.  They will make money hand over fist for a good long period.  Remember, their patents on current drugs expire and they have to find new things to sell.  Plus their scientists will probably get Nobel prizes.  The idea they would sit on it is not credible, nor is it supported by the actual history of efforts to eradicate of smallpox, polio and cancer (much of which is viral)

It is wonderful that we have a government that is willing to significantly increase investment in the underlying science to lead to a cure; we should all thank Arlen Specter for insisting on the funding increase as part of the stimulus bill.  Welcome back to the Democratic party, Senator.
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Offline veritas

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Re: Increased funding has researchers fired up
« Reply #11 on: May 12, 2009, 05:54:55 AM »

It is wonderful that we have a government that is willing to significantly increase investment in the underlying science to lead to a cure; we should all thank Arlen Specter for insisting on the funding increase as part of the stimulus bill.  Welcome back to the Democratic party, Senator.

We should also thank the Obama administration for accepting the Specter "quid pro quo" and agreeing to a 34% increase in the budget of the NIH in an atmosphere of cutting programs deemed not productive. This shows Obama's basic interest in doing the right thing with respect to research along with his lifting of the stem cell ban.
Obama should be praised also.

v

Offline Inchlingblue

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Re: Increased funding has researchers fired up
« Reply #12 on: June 15, 2009, 01:49:10 PM »
 what about instead of teaching "the virus to overcome these proteins," we find out if these proteins that protect rhesus monkeys can also protect humans from HIV-1 infection@!?  I'm no researcher but it sounds like something worth exploring, right?

Dr. Hatziioannou might not be studying this but someone else is. I'm glad about that since it seems like a promising avenue of research (and lends some credence to my layman's instinct about it). Below is from a list of AMFAR grant recipients:

Devin Christensen, Ph.D./Mentor: Wesley Sundquist, Ph.D.
University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT
$125,000

Identifying cellular cofactors of Rhesus monkey TRIM5-alpha: While the evolutionary struggle between viruses and primates has yielded several proteins that can prevent disease caused by HIV, the virus is armed with its own proteins to counteract these defenses. Slight differences in the protein TRIM5-alpha between rhesus monkeys and humans mean that the rhesus form of the protein can inhibit HIV infection while the human form cannot. Dr. Christensen will document which cell proteins cooperate with rhesus TRIM5-alpha to overcome HIV. Understanding these additional cooperative functions may serve as the basis of new therapeutics that either mimic or enhance the blockade of the virus that occurs in monkeys.


LINK:

http://www.bio-medicine.org/biology-news-1/Cutting-edge-amfAR-grants-fight-HIV-AIDS-in-the-lab-and-on-the-phone-7310-5/

« Last Edit: June 15, 2009, 01:59:10 PM by Inchlingblue »

 


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