Yale University Graduate Student First Recipient Of Sigma Xi-Consortium for Plasma Science Research Grant
Yale University chemistry graduate student Jason W. Chin has been awarded the first Sigma Xi-Consortium for Plasma Science Grant-in-Aid of Research, a $5,000 award that will support his efforts to develop a novel method to protect the world’s blood supply from harmful viruses.
Chin’s proposal to detect and remove viruses in human blood plasma is titled “Specific Binding of the Parvovirus B19 by Small Structured Peptides,” which describes the bioengineering of molecules that can bind a common protein present in parvoviruses.
“The detection or removal of viruses from plasma is contingent on the ability to specifically recognize the virus particle. My strategy, if successful, might be used to generate molecules able to bind specific viruses or other pathogenic organisms with high affinity and specificity,” said Chin, a third year graduate student. He received his B.A. and M.A. degrees in chemistry from Oxford University and expects to receive the Ph.D. degree from Yale in 2001. His adviser is chemistry professor Alanna Schepartz.
“Blood safety in the United States is state-of-the-art, and the risk for infection by transmission through transfusion has never been lower. However, vigilance and continuous improvement is required to ensure the continued safety of the blood supply,” said Frederick Dombrose, executive director of the Consortium for Plasma Science.
The Sigma Xi-Consortium for Plasma Science Research Fund was established in 1998. As many as five annual research grants of up to $5,000 each will be awarded on a competitive basis, as judged by an independent panel of scientists from Sigma Xi. The award adds a new dimension to Sigma Xi’s 75-year-old Grants-in-Aid of Research program, Dombrose said.
The Consortium seeks to provide research and development funding worldwide for a universal approach to eradicate pathogens from human plasma. The Consortium is cofunded by four plasma fractionation companies, which share safety as a common goal: Alpha Therapeutics, a unit of the Japanese pan-national, Yoshitomi; Baxter Healthcare; Bayer Corp.; and Centeon, a joint venture of Hoechst and Rhone-Poulenc. The Consortium, which is separate from its member companies, funds research and development to accelerate the emergence of new technologies.
Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society, is the honor society of science and engineering, with about 80,000 members in more that 500 chapters, worldwide. Among other activities, the society publishes American Scientist magazine and annually awards hundreds of small grants to young scientists to help further their careers.
* or F. Michael Lorz, Sigma Xi, (614) 443-1877