Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Of Microbes and Men

Loyola's Infectious Disease & Immunology Institute working on ways to diagnose, cure, prevent infectious diseases

MAYWOOD, Ill. - Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine has formed a new institute to find ways to diagnose, cure and prevent infectious diseases by studying how microbes and the human immune system interact.

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 will also explore the link between cancer and viruses and bacteria, as well as the relationship between animal and human viruses.

"You have clinicians who do clinical work and scientists who do basic research, and it's very easy for them to not talk to each other," said institute co-director Katherine Knight, Ph.D., department of microbiology and immunology, Stritch School of Medicine. "By bringing the two together, we will be able to take the results from research straight from the lab to the clinic."

The institute has a number of nationally known, board-certified 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, said Dr. David W. Hecht, professor, infectious disease division, Stritch School of Medicine.

"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."

Faculty and researchers are also drawn from the Division of Infectious Diseases, The Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Burn and Shock Trauma Institute, Oncology Institute, Cardiovascular Institute and the Neuroscience 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 mostly 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.

About Loyola University Health System

Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is part of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus and more than 30 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. Loyola University Medical Center’s campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of Chicago’s Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. At the heart of the medical center campus is a 559-licensed-bed hospital that houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children's Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola's Gottlieb campus in Melrose Park includes the 255-licensed-bed community hospital, the Professional Office Building housing 150 private practice clinics, the Adult Day Care, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.

Trinity Health is a national Catholic health system with an enduring legacy and a steadfast mission to be a transforming and healing presence within the communities we serve. Trinity is committed to being a people-centered health care system that enables better health, better care and lower costs. Trinity Health has 88 hospitals and hundreds of continuing care facilities, home care agencies and outpatient centers in 21 states and 119,000 employees.