MAYWOOD, Ill. -- Despite dramatic advances in medical research and treatments over the decades, the emergence of new infectious diseases and the return of those once thought vanquished continue to be major global health threats.
On Thursday, Jan. 15, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine will inaugurate its latest response to illnesses that kill millions of people each year worldwide with the official launch of its Infectious Disease & Immunology Institute, the first of its kind in the Chicago area.
"The launch will be a symposium of top infectious disease investigators from inside Loyola and top-notch investigators from outside Loyola," said Dr. David W. Hecht, co-director of the institute and chairman of the department of medicine, Stritch School of Medicine. "The mission of the institute is to study how microbes and the human immune system interact and to translate those findings to the treatment, control and prevention of diseases caused by viruses, bacteria and other human infectious agents."
The symposium is free and will be held from noon to 5:30 p.m. in Tobin Hall at Stritch School of Medicine, 2160 S. First Ave., Maywood. Media and the public are invited to attend.
Researchers at the Infectious Disease & Immunology Institute focus on bacterial and viral diseases such as HIV, influenza and hepatitis C, which can give rise to global epidemics. Researchers also explore the link between cancer and viruses and bacteria, as well as the relationship between animal and human viruses.
"Traditionally, you have had clinicians who did clinical work and scientists who did basic research, and it was very easy for them to not talk to each other," said institute co-director Katherine Knight, Ph.D., department of microbiology and immunology at Stritch. "By bringing the two together at our institute, we are able to take the results from research straight from the lab to the clinic to benefit our patients."
The launch will feature a number of nationally known, clinical scientists and physicians who are fully funded and committed to research, generating results that will enhance patient care and to teaching the next generation of medical professionals and researchers. Researchers and their topics include:
* 12-12:30 p.m. -- Katherine Knight, Ph.D., Dr. David Hecht and Dean John Lee, Stritch School of Medicine: Introduction and Overview: * 12:35-1:10 p.m. -- Dr. Philip Johnson, Childrenâs Hospital of Philadelphia: Reverse Immunization: A New Model for an HIV Vaccine * 1:15-1:55 -- Adam Driks, Ph.D., and Dr. Dale Gerding, Stritch School of Medicine: Translating Basic Research: Insights from Studies on Biofilm Formation * 2-2:35 p.m. -- William Costerton, Ph.D., University of Southern California: The Biofilm Paradigm: The Key to the Management of Control of Chronic Bacterial Infections * 2:55-3:30 p.m. -- Phong Le, Ph.D. and Dr. Robert Love, Stritch School of Medicine: Promoting Graft Survival through Immunomodulation * 3:35-4 p.m. -- Olivera Finn, Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine: The Immune System and Cancer * 4:05-4:25 p.m. -- Thomas Gallagher, Ph.D. - Stritch School of Medicine: Evaluating Coronaviruses in Models of Pulmonary Infection and Respiratory Disease * 4:25-4:30 p.m. -- Alan Wolfe, Ph.D., Stritch School of Medicine: Final Remarks
"It's a very diverse, interdisciplinary group," Knight said, "but all are focused on immunology and infectious disease, which are intimately related because immunology is about avoiding infectious diseases."
The institute's faculty and researchers are also drawn from Loyolaâs Division of Infectious Diseases, The Department of Microbiology and Immunology, The Department of Cell Biology, Neurobiology and Anatomy, and from the Burn and Shock Trauma Institute, Oncology Institute, and Cardiovascular Institute at the Stritch School of Medicine.
"Having that type of synergy is important for the overall integration of our research and patient-care efforts within the Loyola system," Hecht said.
The Infectious Disease & Immunology Institute is composed of three divisions, each organized around a group of basic and clinician scientists researching similar problems:
* Division 1 -- Microbial Infections, Pathogenesis and Antimicrobial Resistance, which is researching community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), clostridium difficile (C-diff) and other antibiotic-resistant organisms that are primarily hospital-associated infections.
* Division 2 -- Immunobiology of Transplantation, Inflammation and Aging, which is investigating ways to grow both blood stem cells and immune cells from cord blood stem cells outside the body. It is also researching cures for chronic rejection in lung transplants, a condition that can shave months and years from a transplant patient's life expectancy. * Division 3 -- Infectious Agents: Structure Function and Pathogenesis, which is concerned about emerging infections such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and also MRSA.