Oishei Foundation Grants Benefit Medical School Research

Release Date: December 6, 2002

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The John R. Oishei Foundation has awarded a total of $600,000 to two research projects in the University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences focusing on infectious diseases.

Two three-year, $300,000 grants have been awarded to Anthony Campagnari, Ph.D., professor of microbiology and medicine, for his work in the field of sexually transmitted diseases, and to Thomas A. Russo, M.D., associate professor of medicine in the infectious diseases division, who is studying E. coli infections.

Thomas E. Baker, executive director of the foundation, said that in each case, members of the Oishei board of directors approved the grants because they were "impressed with the high quality of the research proposed and its potential implications."

Michael E. Bernardino, dean of the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and UB vice president for health affairs, thanked the Oishei Foundation for "extending a strong and supportive hand to critical research being conducted at the university in the field of infectious diseases."

Campagnari will lead studies analyzing virulence factors and potential vaccine antigens of Haemophilus ducreyi, the etiologic agent of chancroid, a sexually transmitted disease. Infection from H. ducreyi significantly increases the risk of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection.

"H. ducreyi infections are not only common in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean, but in every country where the rate of infection with HIV exceeds 8 percent of the adult population," Campagnari said.

Data from the UB studies could lead to "the identification and development of a vaccine for H. ducreyi infection that would favorably impact the rate of HIV infection in third-world countries," he added.

Russo is seeking to develop a vaccine for extraintestinal pathogenic E. coli, the most common cause of extraintestinal infection in ambulatory, long-term-care and hospital settings. Typical infections due to E. coli include urinary tract infection, diverse intra-abdominal infections, pneumonia, surgical site infection, meningitis and soft-tissue infections.

"The strains of E. coli that cause extraintestinal infection are under-appreciated 'killers.' Each year in the U.S., billions of direct health-care dollars are spent on millions of these infections, which are associated with thousands of deaths," said Russo.

The John R. Oishei Foundation's mission is to enhance the quality of life for Buffalo-area residents by supporting education, health care, scientific research and the cultural, social, civic and other charitable needs of the community. The foundation was established in 1940 by John R. Oishei, founder of Trico Products Corp., one of the world's leading manufacturers of windshield wiper systems.

The foundation, a major supporter of UB and its community-focused activities, has given or pledged more than $8.2 million to The Campaign for UB for programs ranging from the UB Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics to UB's Toshiba Stroke Research Center.