Fellowship Competition

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

  
CONTACT: Dennis da Costa
Liliana Coletti
914.773.1612
coletti@ix.netcom.com

VZV RESEARCH FOUNDATION ANNOUNCES
FIFTH INTERNATIONAL FELLOWSHIP COMPETITION

Two Grants Totaling $200,000 To Be Awarded

NEW YORK, October 10, 2000 - The VZV Research Foundation (VZVRF) announces its fifth international competition for research grants to study the origination and development of infections caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV), including chickenpox, shingles and post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN). Applications, which are due on January 24, 2001, are now available for post-doctoral scientists to apply for two, two-year grants, each totaling $100,000, or $50,000 per year.

Fellowship applications are available online at the VZV Research Foundation's website - www.vzvfoundation.org - and by contacting the Foundation by email (vzv@vzvfoundation.org), telephone (212.472.3181) and mail (VZV Research Foundation, 40 East 72nd Street, New York, NY 10021 USA).

A Commitment To Research Continues
The VZV Research Foundation is the world's only nonprofit organization fostering research and education on the varicella-zoster virus and VZV infections. Based in New York City, the Foundation's Scientific Advisory Board is comprised of more than 50 of the world's leading scientific and medical experts on VZV. Since the establishment of the VZVRF Post-Doctoral Fellowship Program in 1993, the Foundation has awarded $1,050,000 in research grants. The awarding of two additional fellowships will increase the Foundation's research commitment to more than $1.2 million.

The ten studies funded to date have focused on: investigations of the reasons for the VZV virus' reemergence; the development of new vaccines to prevent chickenpox and shingles in the immunocompromised; and the seeking of new treatments for PHN pain.

Application Guidelines and Deadline Announced
Post-doctoral scientists interested in applying for a fellowship must focus their studies on one or more of the following areas of VZV research: virus host interactions; neuron growth; nerve cell interactions; PHN and pain management. Applications must be accompanied by a mentor letter of intent and evidence of external funding for research on VZV or an allied field.

Each $50,000 grant includes a $35,000 annual salary, plus benefit allowance, and a research allowance for the sponsoring laboratory. Second-year support, totaling an additional $50,000, is contingent upon documented, satisfactory progress during the first year of study. The filing deadline for applications is January 24, 2001. Awardees will be notified of their grants on March 9, 2001, with work commencing on July 2, 2001.

VZV: The Virus That Strikes Twice
The varicella-zoster virus (VZV) first strikes as chickenpox or varicella, now preventable through vaccination, but which is still regarded by many as a mild childhood illness. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), chickenpox-related complications - which, on rare occasions, can include pneumonia and inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) - result in 10,000 hospitalizations and nearly 100 deaths in the U.S. each year.

Following an episode of chickenpox, the virus lies dormant, or asleep, in nerve tissues. However, in nearly one million individuals annually in the U.S. alone, it strikes a second time as shingles or herpes zoster. Shingles is an often painful outbreak of a rash or blisters on the skin, usually occurring in a band on one side of the body, or clustered on one side of the face. It may disappear in two to four weeks. But the risk of complications from shingles increases with age and delay or lack of treatment.

Shingles complications include post-herpetic neuralgia, or PHN, which is nerve damage that can cause debilitating pain persisting for months or even years after the shingles rash has healed. The pain of PHN may be sharp, piercing, throbbing or stabbing.

While shingles is most common among individuals over the age of 50, it also occurs frequently among those who have conditions or are undergoing medical treatments that weaken their immune systems. These include: HIV infection; chemotherapy or radiation therapy; corticosteroids; transplant operations and possibly stress. It is anticipated that the incidence of shingles will increase, concurrent with the projected, dramatic growth in both the world's elderly and immunocompromised populations.

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