NEW YORK, March 16, 2010 — Tuberculosis kills nearly 2 million people annually, and kills more adults than malaria, AIDS, and all tropical diseases combined. TB is the cause of one in four avoidable deaths in the Third World. In recent years, there have been dramatic increases in the number of new cases worldwide, as well as an emergence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis strains that are resistant to two of the major drugs in the first-line treatment or to some second-line treatment drugs. These alarming trends have caused the World Health Organization to declare tuberculosis a global health emergency; a distinction never accorded another disease.
An April 6 symposium presented by the New York Academy of Sciences’ Emerging Infectious Diseases & Microbiology Discussion Group will highlight how genetic information about Mycobacterium tuberculosis and genetic tools are being utilized in the quest for new TB drugs. Experts in the field of tuberculosis research will discuss recent developments in TB drug compound screening strategies, advances in the understanding of drug-resistant strains, and genetic insights into the pathophysiology of TB.
Takushi Kaneko, TB Alliance (Organizer)
Helena Boshoff, National Institutes of Health
William Jacobs, Jr., Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Carl Nathan, Weill Cornell Medical College
Christopher Sassetti, University of Massachusetts Medical School
Dirk Schnappinger, Weill Cornell Medical College
Speakers at this symposium include leading experts in TB research and drug discovery:
Takushi Kaneko, PhD, is Senior Project Leader at TB Alliance, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the development of new anti-tuberculosis drugs. As a medicinal chemist he has spent nearly 30 years in drug discovery at Pfizer and Bristol-Myers Squibb. His specialties include antimicrobial agents, cancer chemotherapeutic agents, and natural products discovery research.
Helena Boshoff, PhD, is leader of biology in the Tuberculosis Research Section of the Laboratory of Clinical Infectious Diseases at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the NIH, whose research interests include the identification and validation of drug targets in Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the etiologic agent of the disease, as well as mechanisms that give rise to drug resistance in this pathogen.
William Jacobs, Jr., is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and Professor in the Departments of Genetics and Microbiology & Immunology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. His research efforts are aimed at identifying genes involved in the virulence of M. tuberculosis, identifying novel drug targets, and engineering attenuated mutants of M. tuberculosis that can be used as live-cell tuberculosis vaccines.
Carl Nathan, MD, is R.A. Rees Pritchett Professor and chairman of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Weill Cornell Medical College and co-chair of the Program in Immunology and Microbial Pathogenesis at Weill Graduate School of Medical Sciences of Cornell University. His research is focused on the biochemical basis of the persistence of M. tuberculosis.
Christopher Sassetti, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and an Early Career Scientist of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute whose research focuses on the application of high-throughput genetic approaches to understand the how M. tuberculosis adapts to the host environment.
Dirk Schnappinger, PhD, leads a Weill Cornell Medical College research group that is focused on the development of genetic tools and the analysis of essential genes of M. tuberculosis.
To register for “Tuberculosis: Novel Therapies through Knowledge of the Genetics of the Causative Agent,” visit the New York Academy of Sciences website. Media must register in advance by contacting Adrienne Burke, email@example.com or Jennifer Henry, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The New York Academy of Sciences is an independent, not-for-profit organization committed to advancing science, technology, and society worldwide since 1817. With 24,000 members in 140 countries, NYAS is creating a global community of science for the benefit of humanity. NYAS’ core mission is to advance scientific knowledge, positively impact the major global challenges of society with science-based solutions, and increase the number of scientifically informed individuals in society at large.