BLACKSBURG, Feb. 14, 2001 - Researchers from Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health came to Blacksburg on Saturday to meet with colleagues from Virginia Bioinformatics Institute for the launch of a $10 million research collaboration between the two institutions. 

The meeting, held at Virginia Bioinformatics Institute, laid the groundwork for an endeavor that will provide much-needed information on host-pathogen interactions for some of the world's most deadly infectious diseases, including malaria, AIDS, tuberculosis, and toxoplasmosis. "It's a unique opportunity to combine state-of-the-art computational modeling and experimental expertise with the first-rate team at Johns Hopkins. We'll have a great chance to make progress in the fight against these diseases," said Dr. Reinhard Laubenbacher, professor at VBI.

Scientists from both institutions shared their research interests and capacities within the context of the partnership. Since Johns Hopkins has recently received $100 million over the next seven years for the study of malaria, much of the earliest effort will focus on genomics of Plasmodium falciparum and the Anopheles mosquito, malaria's causal organism and the vector mosquito species, respectively. As part of the malaria project, researchers will model and analyze gene expression data from mosquitoes, mice, and humans. Research discussions also centered on toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection that is the third leading cause of food-borne death in the United States, and tuberculosis, particularly in relation to drug development and understanding its dormancy and resuscitation cycles.

VBI researchers shared the capacities of VBI's facilities, including creation of high-throughput arrays, databases, and modeling networks that will elucidate solutions to the problems that these diseases present millions of people worldwide every year. These new technologies will compliment the wealth of medical and molecular biology research being conducted by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the oldest and largest school of public health in the country.

Saturday's meeting was the first in a series of meetings and retreats that will take place between the partners.

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Published by Public Relations, February 13, 2001