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Baylor College of Medicine’s Center for Globalization announces newest grant recipients

Baylor College of Medicine’s Center for Globalization has announced this year’s recipients of the Globalization Demonstration Project grants.

"For the second year, we’ve had an exceptional group of applicants that highlights the depth of global collaborations and research across the College," said Dr. Bobby Kapur, director of the Center and assistant professor of medicine and pediatrics at BCM.

Out of 45 applicants, five were selected for the one-year, $50,000 awards.

This year’s grant recipients include:

Dr. Changyi Johnny Chen, professor of surgery at BCM.

Infection with the liver fluke (Opisthorchis viverrini) is endemic in Northeast Thailand and is a cause of Cholangiocarcinoma (CCA), or bile duct cancer. Since 2008, Chen has established an active collaboration with Khon Kaen University to study molecular targets of CCA. The most critical targets for CCA discovered from their collaboration research are cyclophilin A and the ERK pathway. Thus, the current collaborative project is to carry out a preclinical study to test FDA-approved drugs, Cyclosporin A (CypA inhibitor) and Sorafenib (the ERK pathway inhibitor) in cell culture and animal models of CCA. Once this preclinical study is successfully done, this novel targeted therapy will immediately apply to clinical trials in Thailand.

Dr. Neil Hanchard, assistant professor of molecular and human genetics at BCM.

Working with collaborators in Jamaica and Malawi, Hanchard's project will use epigenomics and genomics to probe the long-standing clinical question of why, when exposed to the same nutritional stress, some children develop the more severe type of childhood malnutrition in which there is swelling in the body, called edema, while others develop the milder, non-edematous type. Answers to this question can be used to develop more effective therapeutic strategies for children with severe malnutrition.

Dr. Graeme Mardon, professor of pathology at BCM.

Nearly 60 percent of childhood tuberculosis cases in Africa occur in HIV co-infected children, and these individuals have up to a 50-fold greater risk of dying from it than non-HIV-infected children.
Researchers will use a combination of genetics and genomics to identify new genes that control progression to active tuberculosis as an essential first step to developing effective diagnostic and therapeutic tools to treat this devastating combination of diseases.

Dr. Rojelio Mejia, assistant professor of medicine in the section of infectious diseases and the National School of Tropical Medicine at BCM.

Mejia’s project will focus on determining the prevalence of the eight most common gastrointestinal parasites including soil-transmitted helminths and protozoa in a rural Ecuadorian village. New molecular diagnostics including real-time PCR and ELISA serology will be implemented on 400 children starting at 6 months old sequentially until 5 years old. The goals will include determining the age of the children when specific infections occur, post-treatment efficacy and co-infection rates.

Dr. Jose Serpa-Alvarez, assistant professor of medicine in the section of infectious diseases and the National School of Tropical Medicine at BCM.

Neurocysticercosis is one of the leading causes of acquired epilepsy worldwide and an emerging infection in the United States. The goal of this project is to design a highly sensitive and specific Taenia solium antigen-based immunoassay for the diagnosis of neurocysticercosis. This proposal includes a collaborative effort with the National Institutes of Health and the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia as well as the Cysticercosis Working Group in Peru.