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Rochester General Hospital Receives Largest Research Grant in its History

October 04, 2010

Dr. Michael PichicheroThe Rochester General Hospital Research Institute has been awarded a $7.1 million grant to study the effectiveness of a new vaccine on the bacteria that cause ear infections in children. Michael E. Pichichero MD, Director of the Research Institute, has been named Principal Investigator of the five year study which will follow children who receive the Prevnar 13 vaccine. The vaccine is manufactured by Pfizer Vaccine Research of Collegeville, Pennsylvania which is funding the grant.  

Prevnar is the vaccine given to all children in the United States during infancy to prevent infections by the pneumococcus bacteria. Pneumococcus is a very common cause of spinal meningitis, pneumonia, bacterial sepsis, ear, and sinus infections.       

The first Prevnar vaccine was licensed in 2000. In February 2010, Pfizer released a new version of the vaccine called Prenvar 13. Several important changes were made to the vaccine’s original formulation in order to maintain its effectiveness against new bacterial strains which became antibiotic resistant.  

“During the next five years, we will be tracking the pneumococcus strains that cause ear infections in children in the Rochester, New York area,” said Dr. Pichichero. “Our mission is to identify any changes in the strains of pneumococcus that may emerge after introduction of Prevnar 13 earlier this year. This data will help the scientific community respond appropriately to any new bacterial threats.” 

The Rochester General Hospital Research Institute study of Prevnar 13 will be conducted in collaboration with the Ear Infection Research Center at Legacy Pediatrics in Rochester, New York, led by Janet R. Casey MD. The following Pediatric practices in the Rochester area will also participate; Long Pond Pediatrics, Sunrise Pediatrics, Lewis Pediatrics and Westfall Pediatrics.

The Rochester General Hospital Research Institute has received over 10 million dollars in grants since Dr. Pichichero became its first Director 18 months ago. In part with the help of stimulus funds from the Obama Administration, the Research Institute has added 5 jobs for PhD scientists and 3 jobs for research assistants. Additional job growth is also expected using this new grant funding.

Work at the Rochester General Hospital Research Institute continues on four focused areas of research, including infectious diseases/immunology, cardiovascular diseases, cancer/cancer vaccines, and biotechnology/bioengineering (in collaboration with the Rochester Institute of Technology).