June 14, 2012

Gillibrand Announces More Than $1.8 Million Grant for Trudeau Institute

Federal Investment from National Institute of Health Will Enhance Research into Combating Infectious Disease in Older Americans - Develop Effective Vaccinations

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced a federal grant worth $1,890,558 for the Trudeau Institute for research into the impacts of aging on the immune system’s response to infection and vaccination.

The federal investment from the National Institute of Health (NIH) is the first installment of a 5-year research grant for Trudeau, worth a total of $9 million.

“This is a great investment for the Trudeau Institute and for the North Country,” Senator Gillibrand said. “Trudeau is home to some of the world’s brightest minds and cutting-edge innovation. When we invest in new ground-breaking research, we can unlock treatments to some of humanity’s oldest and deadliest diseases – improving lives and saving lives.”

Benjamin Brewster, Board Chairman of the Trudeau Institute, said, “I want to acknowledge the Institute’s faculty and staff for their ongoing commitment and dedication in obtaining this $9 million grant.  This award will help advance the Trudeau Institute’s discoveries in fundamental research and its impact on cures and treatments.” 

“The support from the National Institute on Aging for the Trudeau Institute’s research will impact the future understanding of aging and immunity in the elderly,” said Dr. Laura Haynes, Ph.D., lead researcher and faculty member. “Our collaboration with the University of Massachusetts Medical School and the University of Connecticut Health Science Center will expand our research into human studies and our understanding of influenza.”

Senior citizens are particularly at risk of infectious disease. Influenza alone leads to 36,000 deaths and 200,000 hospitalizations each year, 90 percent of which are older adults.

Existing research from the Trudeau Institute has identified declines in immune cell function that respond to vaccination as a result of aging. Immune cells of the elderly show slower and reduced functional responses compared to cells of younger individuals.

With investments from the NIH, the Trudeau Institute will focus its research into defining how aging impairs immunity, and identify vaccination strategies that can overcome the challenge of aging cells.