Weill Medical College of Cornell University Receives $500,000 Bristol-Myers Squibb "Freedom To Discover" Grant

Jan 30, 2004

New York, NY

Bristol-Myers Squibb has awarded a five-year $500,000 Freedom to Discover Unrestricted Infectious Diseases Research Grant to Weill Medical College of Cornell University for HIV/AIDS research focusing on the HIV-1 envelope glycoproteins and their functions during virus entry. John P. Moore, Ph.D., will supervise and serve as principal investigator of the grant. Dr. Moore is a professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, at Weill Medical College of Cornell University in New York City.

Richard Colonno, Ph.D., vice president of Infectious Diseases Drug Discovery at the Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharmaceutical Research Institute in Wallingford, Connecticut, presented a commemorative plaque and a symbolic check for $500,000 to Dr. Moore at a reception on January 30 at Weill Cornell Medical College. Guests included Weill Cornell leadership, faculty and staff of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology and Bristol-Myers Squibb executives.

Dr. Moore is seeking new pathways to prevention and control of the HIV virus through his search for vaccines and entry inhibitors that can thwart the transmission of the virus, said Dr. Colonno. We are extremely pleased to present this grant to Dr. Moore and through it to give him new opportunities for scientific exploration of the HIV virus.

I am very pleased to receive this award, and I would like to thank the past and present members of my research group whose hard work has made it possible. It will greatly help our research programs over the coming years, particularly as it's unrestricted in nature, said Dr. Moore.

Dr. Moore and his research group are focusing on three major areas of research, all related to how the HIV-1 envelope glycoproteins function during virus entry. In one project, the team is trying to develop and evaluate antigenically modified forms of the envelope glycoproteins as potential vaccine antigens. A second study is to learn how HIV-1 escapes from the selection pressure of entry inhibitors, principally small molecule, CCR5-specific compounds. These are designed to block the binding of the envelope glycoproteins to the CCR5 receptor that the virus uses (along with the CD4 receptor) to fuse with the membranes of immune system cells. In a related project, the scientists are evaluating the mechanism of action, and variation in host response to CCR5 inhibitors, both in vitro and using the Rhesus macaque model. A final area of their research is to determine whether various entry inhibitors can block the vaginal transmission of test viruses to macaques, to see whether any might be suitable for development as topical microbicides to counter the sexual transmission of HIV-1 to women.

Dr. Moore received his B.A. in Biochemistry from Downing College, Cambridge, England, and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Cambridge University. He joined the Weill Cornell Medical College faculty in May 2000.

The Bristol-Myers Squibb Unrestricted Infectious Diseases Research Grant is provided through the Freedom to Discover program, which has awarded more than $100 million to advance human health through support of basic scientific research for over a quarter century. Funded by the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, the grants are the largest source of support from any corporation for unrestricted biomedical research. Grants are awarded in six research fields: cancer, neuroscience, cardiovascular, metabolic disease, nutrition and infectious diseases. The grants offer the world's premier research institutions the opportunity to pursue new clinical and laboratory findings, support promising young scientists, or acquire new laboratory technology with no strings attached. The unrestricted nature of the grants allows institutions to put the support where it is most needed and gives scientists the freedom to pursue uncharted paths. Since the inception of the program in 1977, 248 grants have been awarded to more than 150 institutions in 23 countries worldwide.

Each of the six Freedom to Discover programs also consists of an annual Award for Distinguished Achievement to an individual researcher. As supervisor of an Unrestricted Infectious Diseases Grant, Dr. Moore is a member of the independent selection committee that selects the winner of the annual $50,000 Bristol-Myers Squibb Award for Distinguished Achievement in Infectious Diseases Research.

Bristol-Myers Squibb is a global pharmaceutical and related health care products company whose mission is to extend and enhance human life.