IDRI - Infectious Disease Research Institute

Antibiotic Resistance: Are You Contributing to the Problem?

How many times have you been prescribed antibiotics and didn’t finish the course of treatment? Maybe you were feeling better orantibiotics  thought “I could save the rest of these in case I get sick again.” If so, you are a contributor to the rise of antibiotic resistance – and you might not realize it.

This week, Nov. 16-22, has been designated by the World Health Organization as “World Antibiotic Awareness Week,” designed to increase awareness of global antibiotic resistance and encourage best practices, such as completing a full course of antibiotics when prescribed and not sharing antibiotics prescribed for you with others.

“The rise of antibiotic resistance is a global crisis. It’s one of the greatest threats to health today. This makes a broad range of common infections much more difficult to treat, replacement treatment are more costly, more toxic, and require much longer periods of time for treatment,” WHO director-general Dr. Margaret Chan said in a news conference. (more…)

The Emerald City: Filled with Generosity

371NOTE: Susan Galea is Director, Global Clinical Safety and Pharmacovigilance, for Merck; she is working for three months at IDRI as part of the Merck Fellowship for Global Health program. Galea and another Merck fellow, Todd Kennedy, are working on the HIV Cure Initiative, for which IDRI serves as the fiscal sponsor.

Maybe I have been drinking the philanthropic water of this city, but I would be remiss not to mention the generosity that I have seen from day one of my Fellowship. The substantial investment that Merck has provided for these Fellowships can’t be overlooked. Simply put, through the Fellows that they provide, Merck is attempting to fortify nonprofit organizations with technical and human support.

Specifically, here in Seattle, they have paired Todd Kennedy and me with the Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI) and our sponsor Erik Iverson. This organization is genuinely advancing global health. Many of the world’s most devastating diseases are getting attention here as they focus on new diagnostics, adjuvants, drugs and vaccines for diseases such as leprosy, leishmaniasis and tuberculosis. So why is IDRI the fiscal sponsor for HIV Cure Initiative?  They believe in the importance of this collaboration and give generously of their time with the belief that they share with relevant scientists:  HIV can be functionally cured or at least put into a remission state. (more…)

Nobel Prize Calls Attention to Diseases of Poverty

nobel-prize-medalA lot of excitement is generated during the week the Nobel Prizes are awarded. This particular Nobel week was extra special for any microbiologist or drug hunter as the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for 2015 was awarded to three scientists involved in discovering important and novel therapies for parasitic diseases – malaria and roundworms.

Youyou Tu was awarded for the discovery of artemisinin, a product derived from a plant (sweet wormwood) used in traditional Chinese medicine, that had excellent activity against the malaria parasite. She was instrumental in discovering the active ingredient in the plant, which can be a difficult and long process, as well figuring out its chemical structure.

This led to artemisinin becoming part of the treatment for malaria and a great deal of human suffering being avoided. Although artemisinin resistance has appeared, it still forms part of combination therapy used to treat malaria, and has formed part of new treatments that reduced death rates almost by half. (more…)

Going Global from Seattle? Collaboration and Caffeine

NOTE: Todd Kennedy is a National Account Executive for Merck, who is working for three months at IDRI as part of the Merck Fellowship for Global Health program. Kennedy and another Merck fellow, Susan Galea, are working on the HIV Cure Initiative, for which IDRI serves as the fiscal sponsor.

This is the Richard T. Clark Fellowship for Global Health, right? Wait, then what is a California guy doing in Seattle, Washington? In 12 short weeks can my fellow colleague Susan Galea and I make a significant global impact from the land of salmon, apples and grunge? toddkennedy2These are the questions I was considering, before work on day 1 as I was sipping espresso from the original Starbucks at Pike Place Market.

By 8:30 a.m., the potential and promise of our assignment came into focus. From the window of our sponsor’s conference room, you can literally see the offices of pivotal public and private stakeholders including leading NGOs (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Paul G. Allen Family Foundation), academia, pharma and biotech. It seems clear that the key to addressing global health challenges is collaboration among trusted partners, many of whom are located right here in the Pacific Northwest.

Working with the Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI), Susan and I have been asked to: “support development of an ‘investment case’ that will set forth a global health and economic rationale to catalyze multi-sector engagement in a strategic, collaborative effort to identify, develop, and distribute a cure for HIV that will be accessible in both high- and low-resource geographic settings.” (more…)

Internship is Like Learning a New Board Game


IDRI Summer 2015 interns: Shomith Mondal, Cole Phalen and Brandon Paris.

Working for IDRI this summer has really helped me learn more about real world lab work. Taking lab classes is great, you learn a lot, but even so they don’t compare to the learning experience of working in a lab like IDRI’s.

Like learning a new board game, you only really “get it” once you start playing the real game. This internship has felt a lot like the real thing. It doesn’t hurt that the professionals here are eager to help and are some of the best scientists I’ve worked with.

This summer, I mainly focused on assay development for the tuberculosis drug discovery group. After development, we are planning on implementing this assay to test over 150,000 potential drugs. Early in the summer, I learned more about protein expression and purification, a key tool in any lab position going forward. I also got more acquainted with lab hardware like the Fast Protein Liquid Chromatography (FPLC) and various plate readers.

I learned most about assay development, naturally, as I spent most of my time on this. Learning the nuances of controls, different independent variables and, most importantly trouble-shooting, has better prepared me for a future in the sciences. Assay development is tough and can be frustrating at times (especially when commercial products don’t work as expected), but the experience was well worth the effort.

I’m excited to implement the knowledge I’ve gained this summer at school and beyond, whether that be a PhD or MD program.

Posted by Cole Phalen, IDRI Intern



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