BLACKSBURG, Va., February 14, 2007 – A Virginia Bioinformatics Institute (VBI) researcher recently received a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Global Health Travel Award to fund his participation in a conference focusing on infectious disease.

Rana Nagarkatti, protein biochemist and molecular biologist in Dharmendar Rathore’s research group, received the award to attend “Drugs Against Protozoan Parasites” on January 28 – February 1, 2007 in Tahoe City, Calif. The meeting brought together biologists and chemists from diverse backgrounds and scientists in academia and industry to explore ongoing issues in the field of anti-protozoal drug development.

The conference organizers picked the top submitted abstracts and Nagarkatti was invited to give an oral presentation during the plenary session at the event. His presentation, “Targeting the Newly Characterized Plasmodium Protein HDP that Synthesizes Hemozoin: Identification of Novel Inhibitors by High Throughput Screening,” involved the identification and characterization of a unique plasmodial polypeptide that is an ideal drug target for malaria and the development of a high throughput screening assay to identify potential inhibitors. The organizers also requested a poster be presented to allow additional visibility and exposure to the work.

The meeting was part of Keynote Symposia’s Global Health Conference Series, which is designed to support international efforts to combat infectious diseases. The conference series is supported by a $2.5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which is dedicated to helping bring innovations in health and learning to the global community.


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Susan Bland
(540) 231-1767;

Published by Barry Whyte, February 13, 2007