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Kearney Lab Awards


New Investigator Scholarships, Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections

    Sean Patro and Jenna Hasson were awarded New Investigator Scholarships to present their research findings at the 2020 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI). Previous CROI scholarship awardees include Andrew Musick in 2017 and 2018 and Chad Coomer in 2014.

2019 NIH Director's Award

    Mary Kearney received a 2019 NIH Director's Award as a member of the NIH Women Scientist Advisors (WSA) Executive Committee. Nominated by the NIH Office of the Director, the Executive Committee members received this team award for leadership of the WSA in promoting recruitment, retention, and recognition of women scientists and fair treatment with respect to salary and work environment.

2015 NCI Director's Award

    Members of the NCI HIV Integration Sites Analysis (ISA) team received a group award at the NCI Director's Award ceremony in November 2015 "for discoveries on HIV survival during antiretroviral therapy, revealing the importance of integration site and clonal expansion." The ISA group award recipients included Stephen Hughes, Andrea Ferris, Shawn Hill, Mary Kearney, Frank Maldarelli, Wei Shao, and Jonathan Spindler (HIV DRP); Francesco Simonetti (University of Milan); John Coffin (Tufts University); John Mellors (University of Pittsburgh); and David Wells, Ling Su, and Xiaolin Wu (Leidos Biomedical Research, Inc.).

    Photo of NCI Integration Sites Analysis Group in Sept 2015

XMRV Working Group Received NIH Director's Award

    Presentations at the 2009 Cold Spring Harbor Retroviruses Meeting in May 2009 suggested that xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus (XMRV), a novel gammaretrovirus with a potential link to prostate cancer and chronic fatigue syndrome, might be present in ~3% of the U.S. population, raising both public health issues and concern for contamination of the nation's blood supply. In response, the Intramural Research Program (IRP) of the National Cancer Institute immediately formed a multidisciplinary XMRV Working Group and charged the group with developing, implementing, and making available diagnostic reagents for rapid, accurate, and reliable detection of XMRV nucleic acids, antigens, and infectious virus. The group developed an action plan, and within three months, the SAIC Protein Expression Laboratory reported construction of 40 recombinant clones expressing all XMRV antigens and their subsequent purification for use as immunological reagents in December 2009. Importantly, these reagents were also made available (through the NIH AIDS Reagent Program) to the extramural community to accelerate XMRV research and allow sharing of a common set of reagents. A parallel effort in the HIV Dynamics and Replication Program resulted in establishing an assay to quantify XMRV DNA (from tissue) and RNA (from plasma) in November and December 2009, respectively. Since ultrasensitive XMRV nucleic acid detection methods were not available, this required in-house development and standardization, using the existing manpower and financial resources of the HIV DRP. In response to the need for "authentic" viral antigens for the development and standardization of immunological reagents by the Viral Technology Laboratory, the large-scale virus culture facilities of the SAIC AIDS and Cancer Virus Program were recruited for XMRV production. Finally, researchers of the HIV DRP developed the DERSE indicator cell line for detection of infectious XMRV. In contrast to traditional virological methods, this novel assay reduced the time needed to detect low levels of replicating XMRV in cell culture from months to a matter of weeks.

    Subsequent studies have demonstrated that XMRV does not pose a threat to public health. Despite this, events between October 2009 and October 2010 highlighted the ability of dedicated scientists of the IRP to respond very quickly to a potential public health crisis by assembling a multidisciplinary team with a single goal of rapidly preparing, standardizing, and making available reagents for diagnostic virology. In every instance, reagents were prepared with existing manpower and resources, and without a serious interruption in the normal work flow or productivity of each group involved. Their non-XMRV work continued unimpeded. The success of this effort relied on close cooperation between all groups to establish and meet important deadlines. In addition to their individual contributions, the XMRV Working Group made reagents and technologies available to the general scientific community, and performed additional diagnostic analysis of samples supplied by federal, intramural, and extramural laboratories. In February 2012, the external XMRV Working Group (the Blood XMRV Scientific Research Working Group) received a Special Recognition Award from the Department of Health and Human Services, recognizing their exemplary team performance for "evaluating XMRV, a potential threat to the blood supply." In July 2012, members of the IRP XMRV Working Group were similarly recognized for their outstanding work by receiving the NIH Director's Award.

    The IRP XMRV Working Group included:

    Stuart Le Grice, HIV DRP
    Alan Rein, HIV DRP
    Vineet KewalRamani, HIV DRP
    Mary Kearney, HIV DRP
    James Hartley, Protein Expression Laboratory, SAIC-Frederick
    Rachel Bagni, Viral Technology Laboratory, SAIC-Frederick
    Jeffrey Lifson, AIDS and Cancer Virus Program, SAIC-Frederick

    The NIH Director's Award to the IRP XMRV Working Group was highlighted in an issue of The Poster newsletter (link to NIH Director's Award feature).

    IRP XMRV Working Group photo

Award for Excellence in Graduate Research, Catholic University of America

    Mary Kearney was awarded the Benedict T. DeCicco Award for Excellence in Graduate Research in 2008 by the Biology Faculty of the Catholic University of America.


Last modified: 20 January 2020


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