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Release Date: Tuesday, January 3, 2012 11:10 AM
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Ron Harris
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Office of University Communications

NIH Awards Research Grants to the College of Pharmacy

Emmanuel O. Akala
Emmanuel O. Akala

WASHINGTON (September 30, 2011) – Howard University College of Pharmacy is the recent recipient of two research grant awards from the National Institutes of Health to study ways to design HIV/AIDS-fighting drugs. The awards total approximately $750,000.

Emmanuel O. Akala, R. Ph., Ph.D., and Simon Wang, Ph.D., have received verification of NIH funding for separate HIV supplemental grants in collaboration with the DC-Developmental Center for AIDS Research, a consortium of Washington-area medical and educational institutions that support HIV/AIDS research activities in which Howard is a member.

“These projects are critically important,” said Anthony K. Wutoh, Ph.D., dean of the Howard University College of Pharmacy. “Because we are the only college of pharmacy within the DC-Developmental Center for AIDS Research, our expertise in drug development is critical to finding new strategies to attack the HIV virus.”

Akala, professor of pharmaceutics  in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, is receiving a $600,000 grant award for a study that will use a nanotechnology platform to deliver antiretroviral drugs at sites in the human body where the virus persists despite drug therapy. The study will be completed in humanized mice before clinical translational studies commence. The tile of the project is “Targeting Drug (ARV)-Loaded Multifunctional Nanoparticles to M Cells Overlaying GALT (HIV-1 Reservoir).” The research is funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases within the NIH. Akala is the principal investigator on the study.

Wang, assistant professor of medicinal chemistry in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, has received a grant award of $150,000 for a project that aims to develop novel drugs that can act on an important protein family in the human body known as chemokine receptors. The new drugs in Wang’s study will target CXCR4 and CCR2 receptors at the same time to inhibit HIV fusion to human T-cells. The project is part of the new US-China Program for Biomedical Research Cooperation. Under the program, the National Institutes of Health partners with its counterpart in China, the National Natural Science Foundation of China, in the form of joint grants. The research is to be conducted in cooperation between the Howard’s College of Pharmacy/DC D-CFAR and the Peking University School of Pharmaceutical Sciences of China.

About the Howard University College of Pharmacy
The College of Pharmacy was recreated as freestanding entity in July 2011 as part of Howard University’s ongoing Academic Renewal plans. The new Center for Drug Research and Development is an example of the organization’s strengths. The 4,900 square foot, state-of-the-art facility gives the University the ability to conduct drug research. The College of Pharmacy has HIV training projects in Washington, DC, as well as internationally in Nigeria and East Africa, which includes Tanzania, Rwanda, Zambia, Kenya and southern Sudan.

About the DC Development Center for AIDS Research
The District of Columbia Developmental Center for AIDS Research (DC D-CFAR) aims to lead and support the scale-up of HIV/AIDS research activities in Washington DC; assist with the development, recruitment and retention of HIV/AIDS investigators in DC; and contribute to the prevention and treatment response to the epidemic. Washington, DC has one of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS among major metropolitan areas in the United States. DC D-CFAR investigators work toward making a difference in the lives of persons infected with and at risk for HIV/AIDS in the DC area. The District of Columbia Developmental Center for AIDS Research (DC D-CFAR) is a collaborative partnership between American University, George Washington University, Georgetown University, Howard University, Children's National Medical Center and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

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