The National Hemophilia Foundation (NHF) is pleased to announce Keri C. Smith, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, as the recipient of the NHF’s 2009 Career Development Award (CDA). We are also pleased to announce the 2009 Judith Graham Pool Postdoctoral Research Fellowship recipient is Andrew Yee, PhD, University of Michigan Life Sciences Institute.
The awarding of these grants is the culmination of a vigorous and thoughtful peer review process conducted by NHF’s Research Review Committee. This volunteer committee of NHF’s Medical and Scientific Advisory Council (MASAC) is made up of highly experienced and respected physicians and researchers in the field of hematology.
Smith’s project is, “Identification and amelioration of T-cell mediated inflammatory cytokines that contribute to anti-factor VIII inhibitor formation in hemophilia A.” Her research focuses on better understanding the development of factor VIII inhibitors. Specifically, she will focus on the effects of chemical signals, or cytokines, secreted by helper T cells on the development of inhibitor antibodies. She hypothesizes that certain cells, called Th17 cells, play an important role in the development of these antibodies by stimulating inflammation and driving the immune response toward inhibitor production.
Smith received a BS from the University of Delaware before earning her PhD from Montana State University. Prior to her appointment as an Assistant Professor at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston, she spent four years as a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Michigan. Through the CDA Smith will receive $70,000 per year for up to three years.
The overall objectives of the CDA program are to advance bleeding disorders research by promoting development of novel and innovative studies by established investigators. The emphasis of this initiative is to promote basic, pre-clinical, and/or clinical research approaches yielding scientific information contributing to a cure.
NHF’s JGP postdoctoral research fellowships were established in 1972 to promote projects in clinical and basic science research on biochemical and genetic aspects of bleeding disorders. Since its inception, 72 scientists have been funded for one- or two-year studies, which have produced vital insights into hemophilia and other bleeding disorders. JGP fellows have played a role in the development of better concentrates, improved methods of carrier testing and more detailed understanding of the genetics of hemophilia.
Yee’s project “Fine Structure-Function Mapping VWF-FVIII Interaction,” deals with factor VIII and its adhesion to its chaperone protein, von Willebrand factor. In these experiments, fragments of von Willebrand factor are screened for optimal factor VIII stabilization. By further studying the architecture of the “Factor VIII-von Willebrand Factor” complex, Yee seeks to gain insight to improve designs of novel therapeutics.
Yee earned his undergraduate degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute before receiving his doctorate from Rice University. His eventual goal is to operate an independent research laboratory in the field of bioengineering with a focus on understanding molecular mechanisms of hemostasis, thrombosis and vascular diseases. Through the JGP Yee will receive $42,000 per year for up to two years.
Funding for NHF’s Research Grant Programs is based on contributions made by individuals, hemophilia organizations and chapters of NHF. All donations designated for research are used solely for that purpose.
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