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Scripps-led Immune Response Project Lands $22.5M

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The Scripps Research Institute said yesterday that it has received a $22.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to use genomics and systems biology approaches to study innate and adaptive immune responses to pathogens.

The award, which provides renewal funding for a project that began in 2002, will fund studies of immune system responses to pathogens labeled as Category A, B, and C by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The research project is led by Scripps Professor and Chairman Emeritus Richard Ulevitch, and involves a consortium of partners at the Seattle Biomedical Research Institute, the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Australian National University, and Stanford University. The group is developing a detailed model of immune responses to bacterial and viral pathogens.

The multidisciplinary program, called Systems Approach to Immunology, includes seven cores that focus on genomics; computation; proteomics; signaling; biological reagents; human correlation; and on using an approach in mice called forward genetics to identify genes that are essential for the mammalian immune response to infection and to determine their relative functions.

"It is now crystal clear that data from mouse genetics provides insights into human disease," Ulevitch said in a statement. "When we started there were a lot more unknowns, but now there is a long list of genes identified in the mouse that cause both specific mouse phenotypes and are similarly linked to human disease."

The consortium provides resources based on its research for use by the scientific community, including a web-based portal to access its findings.

Research at the consortium's genomics core has focused on using ChIp-on-chip and ChIP-Seq approaches to conduct genome-wide analyses. The proteomics core studies changes in the proteome of immune cells in response to whole pathogens and pathogen-associated molecular patterns that activate immunity-related receptors, investigates changes in the surface of secreted proteins of macrophages and dendritic cells when they have been challenged with these pathogen microbes, and characterizes protein-protein interactions.

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