Congratulations to Xiuli An, MD, PhD, Head of the LFKRI Laboratory of Membrane Biology, Cheryl Lobo, PhD, (contact PI) Head of LFKRI’s Laboratory of Blood-Borne Parasites, and Connie Westhoff, SBB, PhD, NYBC Executive Scientific Director of Immunohematology and Genomics, who were recently awarded an NIH multi-PI R01 grant. 

The 4 year grant from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) totals $2.8 million ($700,000 per year) exclusively for NYBC use and will fund research using ex vivo generated red blood cells to identify Babesia receptors (see details below). This grant award showcases NYBC’s outstanding and world-renowned research leadership and expertise.  

Studies funded in this grant will utilize a novel approach for the functional analysis of host-pathogen interactions by using forward genetic screening of cultured erythrocytes derived from hematopoietic stem cells. This proposal combines the expertise of an investigator who has spearheaded much of the research in Babesia biology (C. Lobo), a leader in the erythropoiesis field (X. An), who has extensive expertise in the ex vivo generation of cultured red blood cells (cRBCs) and a leader in the blood genomics field who has pioneered approaches for the detailed antigenic characterization of cRBCs (C. Westhoff). The major goal of this proposal is to take advantage of the progress that has been made in the production of cultured red blood cells (cRBCs) by the expansion of hematopoietic CD34+ stem cells and hematopoietic progenitor cells (HPCs), coincident with the progress made in the genetic characterization of blood group proteins, to manipulate cRBCs by siRNA knock-down and iPSCs by CRISPR/Cas9 knock-out to decipher the RBC receptors and their cognate ligands in B. divergens invasion.

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