University of Rhode Island to Receive Over $350,000 for Tick Borne Disease Research

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WASHINGTON, DC – January 22, 2007 — In an effort to help prevent and better understand the transmission of diseases caused by ticks, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) today announced that the University of Rhode Island’s (URI) Center for Vector Borne Disease will receive $357,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

This federal funding will be used for research into how pathogens are transmitted from ticks to hosts to better understand how this transmission can be prevented. For the past decade, Rhode Island has consistently had the second highest rate of incidence of Lyme disease in the nation.

“Given the incredibly high incidence of Lyme disease in Rhode Island, it is important to raise awareness of the diseases caused by ticks, and to promote the important research being conducted at the University of Rhode Island,” stated Reed. “URI has done excellent, comprehensive research on ticks over the years, and I am glad that it has received this federal funding to continue this important work.”

Reed has secured over $480,000 in federal funding for tick-borne disease research at URI and has been involved with the University’s Center for Vector-Borne Disease program since 1997. In the past, the University of Rhode Island has used this federal funding to develop and implement tick-bite prevention education programs as well as a community-based tick control program.

Dr. Shahid Karim, who will lead the research team, stated, “Ticks are notorious blood sucking arthropods that also transmit disease-causing pathogens when they feed. This project will allow us to explore novel ways to interrupt the pathogen transmission process when ticks are feeding. At the molecular level, we hope to discover precisely how tick-borne pathogens move from ticks to hosts. The subject of this project is the cattle tick, Rhipicephalus microplus, which threatens the U.S. and world-wide cattle industries by transmitting diseases like anaplasmosis and babesiosis, but the cutting-edge strategies being used could be applied to disease-carrying ticks anywhere.”

Dr. Karim applied for the competitive grant through the USDA’s National Research Initiative Competitive Grants Program. This program awards competitive research and education grants for research in the fields of biological, environmental and social sciences relevant to agriculture, food, and the environment.