Campus News - January 16, 2001
School of Medicine gets grant to fight new diseases
The UNM School of Medicine (SOM) has been awarded a $921,000 federal grant
to rapidly identify possible victims of harmful new diseases, said Congresswoman
The money, to be available in FY 2001, will fund an Emerging Infectious Diseases
Center (EIDC) at the SOM. The new center will increase the SOMs collaboration
with Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories and the Lovelace Respiratory
Research Institute in the field of emerging diseases.
The new EIDC will combine advanced genetic technology with the power of supercomputers
to produce diagnostic techniques so powerful that doctors could detect the presence
of a disease before a patient develops the first symptoms. The federal grant
recognizes the unique, interdisciplinary approach adopted by UNM and its collaborators,
which proved so effective in identifying the previously unknown Sin Nombre hantavirus
strain in 1993. UNMs team, which includes members of the departments of
Pathology, Biology, Internal Medicine, Molecular Genetics and Microbiology and
the Office of the Medical Investigator, currently receives federal research
grants totalling about $8 million per year from the National Institutes of Health,
the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Centers for Disease Control
and the Indian Health Service.
For many years before the hantavirus outbreak, UNM faculty, staff and students
had been conducting a variety of research, patient care and public service activities
that positioned UNM to respond rapidly when the disease struck. Virtually no
other organization in the country could have responded so quickly and effectively
to the challenges posed by the sudden outbreak.
UNM scientists now provide the same kind of quick analysis to patients and physicians around the world as they discover new varieties of hantavirus. Since the mid-1990s, UNM has provided invaluable consultation and assistance to several foreign countries encountering hantavirus epidemics for the first time.
The capability to do more in this area, through basic and applied research, detection, intervention and prevention, is the core reason for the Emerging Infectious Disease Center. The $921,000 grant represents over 90 percent funding of UNMs $1 million request.
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