San Antonio Vaccine Development Center presents research symposium Nov. 15

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(Nov. 11, 2013) -- The second San Antonio Vaccine Symposium, "Vaccine Antigen Discovery and Vaccine-Induced Immunity," is 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Friday, Nov. 15, at the H-E-B University Center Ballroom on The University of Texas at San Antonio Main Campus.

The symposium is presented by the San Antonio Vaccine Development Center (SAVE), which is marshaling the vaccine research resources of four San Antonio institutions: the UT Health Science Center San Antonio, UTSA, Texas Biomedical Research Institute and Southwest Research Institute. These institutions collaborate with BioMed SA, which promotes San Antonio's biomedical research assets.

"These partnerships have brought San Antonio into the spotlight for leading research in the area of vaccine development. The SAVE symposium is another demonstration of the productivity of these research collaborations," said Mauli Agrawal, UTSA interim vice president for research.

"San Antonio is making a name for itself as a leader in the development of vital vaccines," said Mayor Julián Castro. "This symposium highlights that important life-saving work and shines the light on San Antonio's robust biomedical sector."

Two leading vaccine researchers who are members of the National Academy of Sciences will deliver invited keynote speeches. At 8:45 a.m., Scott Hultgren, professor and director of the Center for Women's Infectious Diseases Research at Washington University School of Medicine, will discuss "Molecular Snapshots of Pilus Biogenesis and UTI Pathogenesis: Blueprint for Therapeutics." At 2:30 p.m., Rafi Ahmed of the Emory Vaccine Center at Emory University will discuss "Immunological Memory to Viruses."

Scientists of the SAVE institutions will present their work in sessions that follow the keynote addresses by experts prominent in the field of vaccine discovery.

The SAVE co-scientific directors are Bernard Arulanandam, UTSA professor of biology and assistant vice president for research support; Guangming Zhong, professor of microbiology and immunology in the School of Medicine at the UT Health Science Center San Antonio; Jean Patterson, scientist and chair of virology and immunology at the Texas Biomedical Research Institute; and Michael MacNaughton, vice president, chemistry and chemical engineering, at Southwest Research Institute.

Hultgren works on therapeutic and vaccine strategies to address a specific protein that is a common case of urinary tract infection (UTI).  This disorder is a significant cause of pain and discomfort for many women throughout their lifespan, as well as infant boys and older men.

Ahmed is an internationally recognized expert on the immune response to viruses. "Dr. Ahmed studies how responses to an antigen are maintained or remembered, which is significant, since the purpose of vaccination is to induce immunological memory," Zhong said.

Annually, the SAVE symposium enables faculty and graduate students to learn about vaccine research from infectious disease researchers around the world. The students will have a platform to share their research with these global experts. The oral presentations and dozens of poster presentations will showcase San Antonio and the vaccine development work at all four SAVE institutions.

Kenneth Trevett, president and chief executive officer of the Texas Biomedical Research Institute, is a founding member of the vaccine center.

"We were very pleased with the success of the first symposium in 2012 and the interactions among the participants that it spawned," he said. "On Nov. 15, we are looking forward to hearing about more exciting research and possibilities for additional collaboration. San Antonio has a powerhouse of expertise in vaccine development, and we are determined to utilize it to the maximum for the public good."

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The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) is an emerging Tier One research institution specializing in health, energy, security, sustainability, and human and social development. With nearly 29,000 students, it is the largest university in the San Antonio metropolitan region. UTSA advances knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. The university embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property--for Texas, the nation and the world.

The University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio, one of the country's leading health sciences universities, ranks in the top 3 percent of all institutions worldwide receiving National Institutes of Health funding. The university's schools of medicine, nursing, dentistry, health professions and graduate biomedical sciences have produced more than 29,000 graduates. The $765.2 million operating budget supports eight campuses in San Antonio, Laredo, Harlingen and Edinburg. For more information on the many ways "We Make Lives Better," visit www.uthscsa.edu.

Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) is an independent, nonprofit, applied engineering and physical sciences research and development organization. The institute occupies more than 1,200 acres in San Antonio, Texas, and provides more than 2 million square feet of laboratories, test facilities, workshops and offices for nearly 3,000 employees, who perform contract work for industry and government clients. Annual revenue totaled $584 million for fiscal year 2012. Founded in 1947, SwRI has 11 technical divisions with a multidisciplinary, integrated approach to solving complex problems in science and applied technology.

The Texas Biomedical Research Institute, formerly the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research, is one of the world's leading independent biomedical research institutions dedicated to advancing health worldwide through innovative biomedical research. Located on a 200-acre campus on the northwest side of San Antonio, Texas, the institute partners with hundreds of researchers and institutions around the world, targeting advances in the fight against AIDS, hepatitis, malaria, parasitic infections and a host of other infectious diseases, as well as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer, psychiatric disorders and problems of pregnancy.