May 16, 2007
Tony Moody, M.D. was awarded a $100,000 fellowship stipend from the Linda and Kenneth Pollin Foundation as a part of the fifth annual Pollin Prize in Pediatric Research recently awarded to Samuel Katz, M.D. Katz is the Emeritus Chairman and Wilburt C. Davison Professor of Pediatrics at Duke University Medical Center and received the Pollin award for his work on measles vaccine. The award ceremony took place April 13, 2007, at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center. Katz chose Moody for the fellowship stipend based on his contributions to the field of pediatric infectious disease and his work on vaccine development. When Moody returned to Duke University Medical Center in 2002 to complete his fellowship in Pediatrics, he would often discuss vaccines and vaccine research with Katz.
“Because the award recognized my early lab work in developing an attenuated measles virus to use as a vaccine, and one was encouraged to select a younger investigator working in a related area, I felt Tony's work in the eventual development (hopefully) of an HIV vaccine was fully appropriate,” said Katz. “Additionally, having known him now for 4 years, I recognize him as a highly intelligent and motivated investigator and a nice guy.”
Katz will be contributing his award to an endowment with the Duke Global Health Institute that will establish a fellowship in his wife’s name, Dr. Cathy Wilfert. Wilfert is also a Professor Emeritus with Duke University Medical Center and serves as the Scientific Director of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.
“The two of them together have had a huge impact on the health of children worldwide,” said Moody.
“It’s an unbelievable honor for Sam to think of me…really quite incredible.”
Moody will use his award to complement his research with the Center for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology (CHAVI) to target antigen-specific B cell reagents that elicit neutralizing antibodies against HIV.
“We are essentially trying to figure out if we can understand the B cell arm of the immune system as it relates to HIV and ultimately to any infection to be able to more intelligently design vaccines that will trigger the right kinds of immune responses.”
Moody is the principal investigator on CHAVI 005, the “Study of Cross Reactivity of Autoimmune Disease Autoantibodies with HIV Envelope Neutralizing Antibodies.” The goal of this clinical protocol is to study patients with autoimmune diseases such as lupus or Anti-Phospholipid Antibody Syndrome to see if they produce autoantibodies that react with various HIV epitopes. The hypothesis is that patients with altered B cell regulation may produce more robust antibody responses against HIV.
Moody will also use the award to apply to study the mechanisms of mother-to-child-transmission (MTCT) of HIV. Moody and other CHAVI investigators are in the process of obtaining samples taken from HIV positive mothers during clinical trials from the mid-1980’s when anti-retroviral treatments such as AZT were not readily accepted as a therapy or as a method of prevention of MTCT.
“So there’s this group of samples that exists that represents a window in time that we can never recreate and as a scientific community, they are unique,” according to Moody. “One of the things I want to do with this award is to study those samples to try and understand if there is there something about the mother and the child that we can learn that explains why some kids got it and why some kids didn’t and that will help us to understand what we need to do to prevent transmission.”
“Even if we had a vaccine that just prevented MTCT, forget everything else, that would still be an enormous benefit,” said Moody.