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Foundation of UMDNJ Receives Grand Challenges Tuberculosis Biomarkers Grant

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J., March 14, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Foundation of UMDNJ, an affiliate of New Jersey Health Foundation, has received a tuberculosis (TB) biomarkers grant through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's Grand Challenges in Global Health program, an initiative which seeks to overcome persistent bottlenecks in creating new tools that can radically improve health in the developing world.

With the grant, Dr. David Alland, professor of medicine, chief of infectious diseases, and director of the Center for Emerging and Re-Emerging Pathogens at UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School, will pursue an innovative research project to identify and validate TB biomarkers, titled "Permeable Magnetic Nanoparticles for point-of-care tuberculosis diagnosis".

The Grand Challenges TB biomarkers program provides funding for groundbreaking research into TB biomarkers for the development of a low-cost, simple to use tool that can quickly and accurately diagnose TB in developing countries.

"There is an urgent need to break through barriers in biomarker research in order to develop a highly-sensitive point-of-care diagnostic to improve identification of active TB cases," said Chris Wilson, director of Global Health Discovery at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "We hope these innovative ideas lead to effective and affordable TB diagnostics that can make an impact on one of the world's deadliest infectious diseases."

Dr. Alland's project is one of ten Grand Challenges TB biomarkers grants awarded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Diagnostic assays are important components of tuberculosis (TB) control programs. Numerous methods exist that can rapidly detect Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) in patient sputum (and potentially in other clinical samples). However, a major limitation common to virtually every one of these methods lies in the difficulty of extracting MTB from the clinical sample. This project will develop a simple, rapid and sensitive method to magnetically extract MTB from any volume of sputum that can reasonably be produced by a patient. MTB extracted with this method will be suitable for detection by many downstream technologies that can be adapted to point of care detection. This project will overcome a major roadblock in TB diagnostics, enabling many innovative diagnostic platforms to be applied to detecting this disease.

About Grand Challenges in Global Health
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation recognizes that solving our greatest global health issues is a long-term effort. Through Grand Challenges in Global Health, the foundation is committed to seeking out and rewarding not only established researchers in science and technology, but also young investigators, entrepreneurs and innovators to help expand the pipeline of ideas to fight diseases that claim millions of lives each year. We anticipate that additional grants will be awarded through the Grand Challenges program in the future.

About New Jersey Health Foundation
New Jersey Health Foundation (, established in 2002 as a not-for-profit public charity, is the parent company to the Foundation of UMDNJ (, which solicits private sector support for the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and to Foundation Venture Capital Group, LLC,  ( which makes private equity investments in start-up technology companies founded by researchers affiliated with the University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey.

About UMDNJ and the Center for Emerging Pathogens
The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) is New Jersey's only health sciences university with more than 6,000 students on five campuses attending the state's three medical schools, its only dental school, a graduate school of biomedical sciences, a school of health related professions, a school of nursing and New Jersey's only school of public health. UMDNJ operates University Hospital, a Level I Trauma Center in Newark, and University Behavioral HealthCare, which provides a continuum of healthcare services with multiple locations throughout the state.

The Center for the Study of Emerging and Reemerging Pathogens is a collection of interdepartmental laboratories located in the Medical Science Building at the UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School in Newark.   

These laboratories share a new facility containing many pieces of top of the line/state-of-the-art equipment, used in scientific research. The facility comprises modern rooms dedicated to different purposes such as cell culture equipped with carbon dioxide incubators and a Biological Safety Cabinet, dishwashing and autoclaving (two dishwashers, two drying ovens and two autoclaves for sterilization), darkroom, PCR room, common equipment room containing gel dryers, ultracentrifuges, a lyopholizer, a tabletop centrifuge, & a scintillation counter.

The BSL-3 facility is located in the Medical Sciences Building occupying 725 square feet and has four rooms (3 modules, accessed through the 'common room') used for biohazardous work, plus an anteroom. The common room is a support area, containing freezers, an ELISA reader, a flow cytometer, a fluorescent microscope and a computer along with other standard laboratory equipment including a pass-through autoclave and sink. This facility is open for use by all investigators studying respiratory pathogens and is the location for the Center for BioDefense's research aims.

SOURCE New Jersey Health Foundation
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