faculty member Tao Cheng, MD (pictured), Associate Professor in Radiation Oncology at the University of Pittsburgh and Co-Leader of the Cancer Stem Cell Program at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, was 1 of 10 researchers nationwide to recently receive a National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) investigator-initiated grant focused on improving the diagnosis and treatment of individuals exposed to radiation. This 5-year award is estimated to be up to $4 million for the first year.
The NIAID, part of the National Institutes of Health, has awarded these latest grants to develop new and better diagnostics and treatments for radiation exposure after a nuclear attack. In the event of a nuclear attack, people exposed to radiation would suffer from injuries to important tissues and organs, such as the skin, lungs, blood cells, nervous system, and digestive tract. The severity of these injuries would vary. Proper diagnosis and prompt treatment of those affected is a key issue.
“These…new awards will help seed basic science research in areas of radiation exposure after nuclear attack that are not currently being addressed,” says Richard Hatchett, M.D., associate director of Radiation Countermeasures Research and Emergency Preparedness at NIAID.
In 2005 Congress identified the need to expand research on countermeasures against chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear (CBRN) threats and gave funding to HHS specifically for this purpose. HHS assigned NIAID the leadership role in managing basic research efforts to develop medical treatments and diagnostics for CBRN threats, and NIAID and the Biodefense Advanced Research and Development Authority collaborate to promote product development of promising candidate countermeasures. NIAID also works closely with the Food and Drug Administration for regulation and approval of all countermeasures developed to protect citizens against these agents.
According to Dr. Hatchett, the new awards support both focused and investigator-initiated projects intended to increase the current understanding about radiation damage to the body after a radiological or nuclear attack.
Illustrations: McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine.
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases News Release (10/07/08)
Project Disaster.com (10/19/08)
Bio: Dr. Tao Cheng