Three Yale Scientists Receive Ellison Medical Foundation Awards:
Support Totals $3 Million for Global Infectious Disease Research

The ten 2004 Senior Scholars in Global Infectious Disease recently announced by the Ellison Medical Foundation in Bethesda, MD, include three Yale investigators: Jorge Galán, Lucille P. Markey Professor of Microbiology and Chair of the Section of Microbial Pathogenesis at Yale School of Medicine; John Carlson, Eugene Higgins Professor of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology; and Ruslan Medzhitov, Professor of Immunobiology at Yale School of Medicine. Each scholar will receive nearly $1 million in research support over four years.

“The Ellison Senior Scholar Awards are greatly coveted, both for their prestige and for their generous terms of support,” said University Provost Andrew Hamilton. “I am absolutely delighted by the success of our faculty in this year’s selection process.”

“The Ellison Medical Foundation has encouraged leading investigators to press forward with some of the most innovative and exciting work on infectious disease,” said Yale School of Medicine Dean Robert Alpern. “It will be a tremendous boost to Yale’s research effort on infectious disease to have these distinguished scientists working as Ellison Senior Scholars.” Richard Flavell, Sterling Professor and Chair of the Section of Immunobiology, was selected as an Ellison Senior Scholar in Global Infectious Disease last year.

Jorge Galán will focus his research on the bacteria Campylobacter jejuni, one of the most common causes of gastrointestinal infection worldwide. Known for his groundbreaking work on Salmonella infection, Galán will investigate the molecular and cellular biology of interactions between Campylobacter and host cells.

Ruslan Medzhitov will examine the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which immune system responses to one infectious agent affect the body’s defenses against other, concurrent infections. Medzhitov is a pioneer of research on innate immunity - defenses that are present at birth, rather than generated adaptively by the immune system in response to specific pathogens.

John Carlson will explore new approaches to the design of repellants and traps for disease-carrying insects. One of the most effective means of controlling insect-borne diseases has been to control the insects that carry them. Carlson’s team will apply its recent advances in understanding the molecular and cellular mechanisms of insect olfaction, or sense of smell, an area in which he is a leading authority.

This year’s trio brings to eight the number of Yale scientists who have been named Ellison Senior Scholars in Global Infectious Disease or in Aging. The Foundation presented the first Ellison Senior Scholar Awards in Aging in 1998 and the first Senior Scholar Awards in Global Infectious Disease two years later.

The Ellison Medical Foundation was established in 1997 through the generosity of Lawrence J. Ellison, CEO of Oracle. According to its mission statement, the Foundation “supports basic biomedical research, research training, and related scientific activities through programs on aging and on infectious diseases of global health importance. The Foundation particularly wishes to stimulate new, creative research that might not be funded by traditional sources or that is often under-funded in the U.S.”

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