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Landenberger Foundation awards grant to Scripps Florida scientist to study HIV

 

25-Oct-2010 - A scientist on the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute has received funding from the Philadelphia-based Margaret Q. Landenberger Research Foundation.

Susana T. Valente, an assistant professor in the Department of Infectology, received a two-year $240,000 grant to expand her study of the many genes and protein products that HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, uses to live inside human cells. These unique molecular interactions between retrovirus and host cell are potential therapeutic targets that might be exploited to disarm the virus without endangering the viability of the cell.

"I'm honored to receive this award from the Landenberger Foundation," Valente said. "This award will help me continue to focus on understanding how viruses like HIV use the machinery of host cells to replicate, as well as to explore some novel ways to prevent that from happening. The foundation has been very supportive of the work of Scripps Florida scientists, and I'm pleased that they selected our laboratory for this latest award."

In addition to identifying the molecular interactions between virus and host, Valente's research has focused on mammalian genes that have evolved within cells to block replication.

In a recently published study in the journal Molecular Cell, Valente and colleagues screened various biological libraries for genes or gene fragments to identify those host factors critical to HIV that might interfere with the virus's replication. The scientists found a specific host factor with the power to block HIV replication by reducing the processing of messenger RNA; mRNA, which is synthesized from DNA during transcription, carries the DNA code into the cytoplasm of the cell where it becomes a template for protein synthesis. Without mRNA, the virus cannot successfully reproduce.

Valente is the fifth Scripps Florida scientist to receive an award from the foundation in the last four years, an exceptional showing in a highly competitive environment. In the future, all awards will likely be restricted to a single grant per year per institution, according to a Landenberger spokesman.

In 2007, Nagi Ayad, an assistant professor in the Department of Cancer Biology, and Paul Kenney, an associate professor in the Department of Molecular Therapeutics, received a three-year grant of $350,000 and a single year grant of $65,000 respectively. In 2008, Michael Conkright, also an assistant professor in the Department of Cancer Biology, received a $150,000 grant. Earlier this year, Donny Strosberg, a professor in the Department of Infectology, was awarded $300,000 over three years.

The Landenberger Foundation also approved a 2010 award of $25,000 to Scripps Florida for a special conference to help other small foundations that specialize in supporting biomedical research to develop greater expertise in their review and analysis of scientific grant requests.

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Formed in 1992 and located in Philadelphia, PA, the Margaret Q. Landenberger Foundation provides initial funding for novel medical research projects in the hope that this will help the scientists further expand their research through additional grants from other sources. Brown Brothers Harriman Trust Company of Delaware, N.A., serves as the foundation's corporate trustee.

About The Scripps Research Institute

The Scripps Research Institute is one of the world's largest independent, non-profit biomedical research organizations, at the forefront of basic biomedical science that seeks to comprehend the most fundamental processes of life. Scripps Research is internationally recognized for its discoveries in immunology, molecular and cellular biology, chemistry, neurosciences, autoimmune, cardiovascular, and infectious diseases, and synthetic vaccine development. An institution that evolved from the Scripps Metabolic Clinic founded by philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps in 1924, Scripps Research currently employs approximately 3,000 scientists, postdoctoral fellows, scientific and other technicians, doctoral degree graduate students, and administrative and technical support personnel. Headquartered in La Jolla, California, the institute also includes Scripps Florida, whose researchers focus on basic biomedical science, drug discovery, and technology development. Scripps Florida is located in Jupite, Florida. For more information, see www.scripps.edu

 

CONTACT:

Mika Ono
mikaono@scripps.edu
858-784-2052
Scripps Research Institute


Source: EurekAlert!
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-10/sri-lfa102510.php


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