A Healthier Wisconsin

Support for New Faculty in the Center for Infectious Disease Research

Recruiting expertise to expand knowledge and treatment of tuberculosis

Full Project Name:Support for New Faculty in the Center for Infectious Disease ResearchPrincipal Investigator:Dara W. Frank, PhD, Microbiology & ImmunologyAward Amount:290,000
Award Date
Project Duration:36 months

Project Description Narrative:

Basic research on immunology and the development of immune cells in response to infectious disease is critical to developing new therapeutics and vaccines that can cure or prevent disease. One such communicable disease that continues to pose a threat to health in Wisconsin and the U.S. is tuberculosis, a very serious communicable disease that infects approximately nine million people worldwide, resulting in nearly two million deaths, each year. Trends show that an increase in drug-resistant cases of tuberculosis pose a threat locally, and globally.

Through this funding award, the Medical College of Wisconsin will recruit an innate immunologist to expand expertise in a critical area of infectious disease research and produce new knowledge in this field that can impact health outcomes in Wisconsin.

Outcomes & Lessons Learned:

  • Successfully recruited a new faculty member, Dr. Richard Robinson, to join the MCW Department of Microbiology and the MCW Center for Infectious Disease Research and launched new research aimed at improving understanding and producing new knowledge around the development of proactive innate immune responses to TBM
  • Discovered a gene, IL12RB1, that must be expressed by immune cells to contain TB infection and that human immune cells express the gene in 13 proteins. Previously the scientific community had believed only one protein was made from this gene
  • Advanced understanding of how the human immune system controls infectious disease and identified a novel human leukocyte protein as a potential vaccine target
  • Established new collaborations within and outside of MCW to broaden research base
  • Disseminated new knowledge, publishing three primary articles related to immune control of tuberculosis
  • Leveraged supported research to obtain an NIH grant and two private grants to continue advancing investigations

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