February 4, 2014 – (BRONX, NY) – When the foe is a disease-causing microbe, identifying the structure of its component proteins can greatly aid efforts to kill or disable it. Research to gain this knowledge will be bolstered by a $3 million grant from The Price Family Foundation. The gift to Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University and the University of Oklahoma funds a research collaboration to investigate the structural biology of the key proteins of anaerobic microorganisms (those that don’t use oxygen).
Vern Schramm, Ph.D.The research consortium, led at Einstein by Vern Schramm, Ph.D., Steven Almo, Ph.D., and James Love, Ph.D., will focus specifically on Clostridium difficile, a notorious bacterial species that infects the intestinal tract and that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers an “urgent” health threat.
Toxins produced by C. difficile can damage the lining of the colon, causing colitis. Each year in the U.S., infections with this microbe sicken at least 250,000 people and cause at least 14,000 deaths. The joint project is aimed at finding better treatments for C. difficile infections. It will capitalize on Einstein’s expertise in structural biology and its high-throughput analytic capabilities along with OU’s expertise in anaerobic microbiology and chemistry.
“Michael Price and his family have a long history of support to Einstein and biomedical research around the country,” said Dr. Schramm, professor and chair of biochemistry and Ruth Merns Chair in Biochemistry at Einstein. “This new gift is an inspired way to leverage the unique talents and facilities at our two institutions to make a real advancement in an increasing danger to human health.”
“This gift from the Price Family Foundation will put OU researchers in a leading role in this important area of research dealing with the impact of protein,” said OU President David L. Boren. “It will further our partnership with Einstein in this area.”
“This new gift is an inspired way to leverage the unique talents and facilities at our two institutions to make a real advancement in an increasing danger to human health.”-- Vern Schramm, Ph.D.
Mr. Price joined Einstein’s Board of Overseers in 2001 and is the former chair of its executive committee. The Price Family Foundation is a generous donor to both Einstein and OU. In 2001, they made what was at the time the largest commitment in Einstein’s history: $25 million to help establish the College of Medicine’s state-of-the-art center for genetic and translational research. The Michael F. Price Center for Genetic and Translational Medicine/Harold and Muriel Block Research Pavilion officially opened in 2008.
In 2011, the Price Family Foundation made a significant contribution toward consolidating Einstein’s Children’s Evaluation and Rehabilitation Center’s clinical and research units within newly renovated quarters of the Van Etten Building. They have also made a commitment of $2.5 million to help establish the Center for Experimental Therapeutics at Einstein.
The Price Family Foundation is also a long-term supporter of Einstein clinical programs, such as Healthy Steps and the Infant-Parent Court Affiliated Intervention Project, which help young children and their families in underserved communities in the Bronx obtain critical health services.