TTUHSC El Paso’s Center of Emphasis in Infectious Diseases Receives More Than $570,000 In NIH Grants

YiGuohua Yi, Ph.D., faculty associate in the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) El Paso Paul L. Foster School of Medicine (PLFSOM) Center of Emphasis in Infectious Diseases and Department of Biomedical Sciences, was recently awarded a two-year National Institutes of Health (NIH) R03 grant for $153,000 from National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). The title of the funded project is “Improved Zinc Finger Nucleases (ZFN) Delivery for HIV Therapy.” Dr. Yi has shown that modification of CCR5, a host factor involved in HIV entry, provides protection against infection. In this funded study, Dr. Yi will use ZFN technology to modify viral and cellular genes with the goal of achieving a functional cure in HIV patients. “I want to thank my mentors Drs. Premlata Shankar and Manjunath Swamy for their critical guidance throughout the study and in the preparation of the grant application,” said Dr. Yi.

ZengMingtao Zeng, Ph.D., associate professor of biomedical sciences in the TTUHSC El Paso PLFSOM Center of Emphasis in Infectious Diseases, along with collaborators Manjunath Swamy, M.D., professor of biomedical sciences in the Center of Emphasis in Infectious Diseases, Alok Dwivedi, Ph.D., assistant professor of biomedical sciences in the Division of Biostatistics & Epidemiology, and other scientists at the University of Texas at Austin, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, and Virginia Commonwealth University, received a NIH grant to develop a new molecular therapy against anthrax. The two-year $420,750 grant (Targeted-delivery of small interference RNA against anthrax, R21AI118228) from the NIAID will allow for researchers to evaluate a novel drug delivery approach to specifically target host cells involved in anthrax pathogenesis. The success of this research will lead to a new and effective small interference RNA-based therapy against anthrax – a deadly infectious disease caused by Bacillus anthracis.