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Columbia One of Five NYC Institutions to Benefit from Irene Diamond Fund; Two Immunological Researchers Appointed

By Adar Novak

Columbia has appointed two immunological researchers -- Hua Gu and Yongrui Zou -- to Irene Diamond professorships. The professorships are part of a $10 million effort to enrich and reinforce immunological science in New York City medical schools, universities, and research institutes. Gu and Zou are among 13 researchers at five institutions being funded by this initiative.

"We are extremely grateful that the Irene Diamond Fund has recognized these two gifted research scientists and provided us with the funds to name them to Diamond professorships," said Saul Silverstein, acting chairman of the Department of Microbiology at Columbia's College of Physicians & Surgeons. "It demonstrates a vital commitment on the part of the foundation, the researchers, and the University to strengthen the field of immunology and, we hope, eventually aid in the prevention and treatment of autoimmune diseases, infectious diseases, and cancers."

Gu, whose research seeks to understand the proper control of the signals essential to a normal immune defense and prevention of immune deficiency and autoimmunity, has been named an Irene Diamond Associate Professor of Immunology effective January 1. He will receive up to $1 million to help establish his laboratory and facilitate his independent work at Columbia.

Born in the People's Republic of China, Gu received his doctorate from the University of Cologne, Germany. Gu continued to serve as head of lymphocyte development at the National Institutes of Health until beginning his post at Columbia.

Zou's research centers on the mechanisms of HIV pathogenesis, work she eventually hopes will pave the way for designing a strategy to block HIV entry into cells and contribute to an understanding of the mechanism of pathogenesis of AIDS dementia. Zou received her Ph.D. from the Institute of Genetics at the University of Cologne, Germany. Before joining Columbia she conducted postdoctoral research at NYU Medical Center and the National Institutes of Health.

Since she was appointed assistant professor of microbiology at Columbia in 2001, Zou received an award from the prestigious Pew Scholar Program. Her appointment as an Irene Diamond Assistant Professor of Immunology, which took effect September 1, provides Dr. Zou with up to $500,000 to support her research.

The Irene Diamond Fund has made available $10 million to establish and support immunology professorships in New York City at institutions that demonstrate a commitment to developing or expanding immunological science at the institutional level and are willing to dedicate substantial resources to the effort. As part of their commitment, institutions that were awarded funds agreed to recruit outstanding immunologists from outside New York City and support them during and after the grant period.

Columbia is one of five institutions approved to receive funding for one or more Irene Diamond professorships in immunology. The recruiting process now is complete, with nine researchers already working in New York City and four more planning to relocate here by the beginning of 2003.

Published: Jan 09, 2003
Last modified: Jan 07, 2003

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