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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

URI Research Institute Brings Vaccine Innovators to Providence

Media Contact: Todd McLeish, 401-874-7892

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Patrick Lowney (401) 277-5408
PLowney.uri@gmail.com


PROVIDENCE, R.I. – October 12, 2011 –Innovative thinkers and vaccine developers will converge in Providence Oct. 17-19 for the Institute for Immunology and Informatics’ 5th Annual Vaccine Renaissance Conference. This annual conference draws national leaders in the vaccine industry who present their findings on vaccine research, vaccine delivery, clinical trials and basic immunology.

The University of Rhode Island’s Institute, commonly known as iCubed, applies cutting-edge bioinformatics tools to accelerate the development of treatments and cures for diseases such as Lyme Disease, Hepatitis C and Dengue Fever. Partial support for the conference is provided through a grant to the iCubed from the National Institutes of Health for accelerating novel approaches to vaccine development.

This year’s conference will again provide a great opportunity to learn about vaccines from the top researchers in the world. Dr. Mark Steinhoff, division director, Global Health Center (Cincinnati Children’s Hospital) and world-renowned thought leader in the field of vaccines and pregnancy, will speak about preventing infant deaths from Influenza by vaccinating during pregnancy.

The intersection between human and animal health, known as “One Health,” will also be a topic this year. Dr. Cyril Gay of USDA will describe the Animal Research Service’s efforts to eradicate infections affecting both humans and animals. SARS and Swine-Origin Pandemic Influenza are two recent examples of emerging infectious diseases originally derived from animals. Attendees will also hear from Dr. Randolph Seidler, global head of research and development in animal health at Boehringer Ingelheim, one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies. Dr. Seidler’s lecture will focus on challenges and opportunities within the realm of animal vaccines.

Vaccine experts will also address Biodefense and AIDS. In sessions on Monday and Tuesday, respectively, Dr. Barney Graham and Dr. Gene Shearer from the NIH will provide an update on progress with HIV vaccines and discuss innovative interventions that may contribute to finding a cure for AIDS. Dr. Mark Poznansky of Harvard’s Massachusetts General Hospital Vaccine and Immunotherapy Center (VIC) will present a novel system for delivery vaccines for ovarian cancer and anthrax.

The event kicks off Monday, Oct. 17 at the Hotel Providence located at 139 Mathewson Street in Providence. The conference continues at the hotel on Tuesday and concludes on Wednesday, Oct. 19 at URI’s Feinstein Providence Campus. Wednesday’s program will consist of hands-on laboratory and informatics training open to any researcher interested in applying the skill set to their research.

This year’s conference also marks the third year anniversary of iCubed. The Institute was established in 2008 with the help of a $13 million NIH-funded Translational Immunology Research and Accelerated Vaccine Development grant to the institute’s first faculty member, Annie De Groot, M.D. She recruited Denice Spero Ph.D., a scientist experienced in bringing drugs from discovery into development. Together the two have developed iCubed into a flourishing center for innovative vaccine research. The Institute has also attracted researchers from outside of Rhode Island, including Dr. Alan Rothman, who joined the research team earlier this year following 24 years at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Both De Groot and Spero hope to continue the expansion of iCubed into not only a premier research institute but also a training center of excellence for the next generation of vaccine developers.

Admission to the Vaccine Renaissance Conference is $125 for one day and $175 for two days. The hands-on training on day three is free. Students can attend the entire conference for $20.

For more information on the 5th Annual Vaccine Renaissance Conference or iCubed, please visit http://www.immunome.org.