Infectious diseases could soon morph into an
old grandmother's tale if certain studies prove successful. The Loyola
University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine has formed a new institute to study
how microbes and the human immune system interact thus finding ways to
diagnose, cure and prevent infectious diseases.
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
''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
- 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
Division 3 - Infectious Agents: Structure
Function and Pathogenesis, which is concerned about emerging infections such as
severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and also MRSA.