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Press Release

For Immediate Release
November 10, 2004
Contact: Jennifer Morcone

CDC Announces $5 Million in New Awards to Fight Emerging Infectious Diseases

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today announced $5 million in new grants to support infectious disease research in five major areas including influenza vaccine effectiveness, antimicrobial resistance, Clostridium difficile-associated diarrheal disease, West Nile virus infection, and organ transplant-associated infections.

“The primary objective of CDC’s peer-reviewed research grants is to support high quality studies whose findings can be applied by public health practitioners and policy makers to improve health,” said Dr. James M. Hughes, Director of CDC’s National Center for Infectious Diseases. “Each study aims to address an important public health concern with substantial potential disease impact.”

Listed below are brief descriptions of the studies, along with the names of the principal investigators and their institutions.

Annual influenza vaccine effectiveness:

Edward A. Belongia, M.D., Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation, Marshfield, Wisconsin. This project aims to provide a rapid analysis of influenza vaccine effectiveness throughout influenza season to better understand how vaccination protects those who receive vaccine.

Applied research on antimicrobial resistance:

John Engemann, M.D., Duke University, Durham, North Carolina. The investigators will study the impact of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus on length of hospitalization and cost of treatment.

Ruth Lynfield, M.D., Minnesota Department of Health, Minneapolis, Minnesota. This work will determine the economic costs of methicillin-resistant S. aureus infections.

Victoria J. Fraser, M.D., Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri. This research will measure the economic costs of infections caused by several antibiotic-resistant pathogens in a hospital setting.

James R. Johnson, M.D., University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota. This study will address the transmission of antibiotic-resistant E. coli organisms from poultry to humans.

Thomas E. Wittum, Ph.D., Ohio State University Research Foundation, Columbus, Ohio. The goal of this research is to assess the public health risk of the antibiotic drug ceftiofur’s use in food chain animals.

Prevention epicenters: Studies within this program are designed to develop, implement, and evaluate the effectiveness of epidemiologically-based strategies to improve healthcare quality and ensure patient safety by preventing healthcare-associated infections and reducing antimicrobial resistance.

Victoria Fraser, M.D., Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri. This research will examine the effect of antimicrobial agents on the incidence of Clostridium difficile associated diahrrheal disease, its impact on the cost of healthcare, and the influence that the use of different disinfection agents have on its incidence.

Loreen Herwaldt, M.D., University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa. This group will analyze errors that resulted in incorrect identification of infectious disease agents from blood cultures from laboratories in several states in order to develop interventions that will successfully reduce these errors and improve patient outcomes from bloodstream infections.

Trish Perl, M.D., Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland. This study will examine whether the use of proper hand and environmental cleaning agents will decrease the incidence of Clostridium difficile colonization.

Research into the public health aspects of West Nile Virus (WNV) in the United States:

David B. Arciniegas, M.D., University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, Colorado. The investigator will conduct a prospective study of the neuropsychiatric manifestations of WNV to help clarify the clinical presentation of this condition and to guide future investigations in the diagnosis, treatment, and neuro-rehabilitation of persons with this condition.

Aaron C. Brault, Ph.D., the University of California Davis, Davis, California. This work will generate fundamental data on the basis of replication in the avian reservoir and insect vector of WNV to fill gaps in knowledge of transmission and to improve existing surveillance strategies.

Margo A. Brinton, Ph.D., Georgia State University Research Foundation, Inc. The investigators will study genetic polymorphisms that confer West Nile Virus resistance in humans, and horses with either asymptomatic or overt WNV disease.

Michael P. Busch, M.D., Blood Systems Inc., Blood Systems Research Institute. This study proposes to utilize blood banks to identify asymptomatic individuals with the virus and to track the natural history of WNV infection with clinical, virologic and immunologic markers to provide additional information on the epidemiology and dynamics of WNV infection and risk assessment parameters.

Wayne A. Rowley, Ph.D., Iowa State University. This study will address the possibility that cottontail rabbits may play a role in the ecology of WNV and serve as a potential source of WNV for mosquitoes.

Thomas R. Unnasch, Ph.D., University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL. The study will focus on the epidemiology and transmission of WNV in urban areas of the southeastern United States to increase understanding of the ecology of WNV transmission.

Organ Transplant Infection and Detection and Prevention Program:

Peter G. Pappas, M.D., University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama. The investigators will improve surveillance of invasive fungal infections in transplant patients in order to make recommendations for prevention of these infections.

David L. Paterson, M.D., University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This study will explore the epidemiology of fungal infections in transplant recipients in order to develop strategies for prevention of such infections.

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