Tulane researcher works on cheaper malaria vaccine

A Tulane University researcher has found a way to use E. coli bacteria to aid in the manufacturing of a protein critical to the development of a more cost-effective malaria vaccine.

Nirbhay Kumar, chairman of tropical medicine at Tulane’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, worked with researchers at the Walter Reed Army Institute for Research to use the bacteria to create a new process to purify and refold the protein CHrPfs25.

When tested as a vaccine, the protein produced a transmission-blocking antibody that was 100 percent effective in preventing malaria in mice.

The experiment used the two most common species of malaria-carrying mosquitoes.

The results will be published in April in the Journal of Infection and Immunity.

“This is the central step,” Kumar said. “Malaria affects the poorest of the poor. And if you are trying to make a vaccine for those billions of people who are at risk, you need to make it cheaper to manufacture. We think that producing this protein in bacteria will make it very cost-effective for large-scale vaccine production.”

Kumar’s studies are funded by the National Institutes of Health.

UNO to start Office of Service Learning

A large grant from a private foundation will establish a new Office of Service Learning at the University of New Orleans.

The office’s mission will be to engage undergraduate and graduate students in academic work within community organizations.

The $300,000 grant, awarded by the Joe W. and Dorothy Dorsett Brown Foundation, will be distributed over five years.

The center will offer scholastic awards and course credit for students, as well as scholarships for prospective students with a track record of community service.

It will encourage faculty involvement through stipends, administrative assistance and training.

For more information, visit www.uno.edu/service-learning.

Tulane president meets with Obamas

Tulane University President Scott Cowen was one of 100 college leaders who met with President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama last week to discuss ways to enroll more low-income students in college and help them succeed once they are there.

Each university leader who attended the meeting was asked to make a new commitment to increasing college opportunity.

Through the Cowen Institute for Public Education Initiatives, Tulane has pledged to introduce a “freshman on-track” initiative, which will monitor students from 10 non-selective high schools in New Orleans. The program will analyze students’ data and offer support for student behaviors connected to course completion, attendance and other key indicators of success as college freshmen.

This new initiative will build on existing efforts at Tulane, such as a partnership with the Posse Foundation.

The foundation recruits talented students from urban public high schools and prepares them to accept scholarships to select private universities.

Loyola law school to honor Moon Landrieu

The Loyola University College of Law will celebrate its 100th anniversary this month by honoring one of its most prominent graduates, former New Orleans Mayor Moon Landrieu.

Landrieu, who graduated from the law school in 1954, will receive the St. Ives Award, the school’s highest honor, at the Law Alumni Luncheon on Jan. 31.

The award is presented each year to alumni who have volunteered services to the College of Law or the university and maintained the highest standards of the legal profession.

The event will be held at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.

To attend, visit law.loyno.edu or call (504) 861-5741.