Tufts Biomedical Researcher Receives NIH Director’s New Innovator Award

Prestigious Award Supports Innovative Research to Improve Drug Treatments for Tuberculosis

BOSTON (September 30, 2013) — Bree Aldridge, Ph.D., microbiologist and bioengineer at Tufts University School of Medicine, has received a 2013 National Institutes of Health Director’s New Innovator Award, which supports creative new scientists working on innovative biomedical research projects. Aldridge is an assistant professor in molecular biology and microbiology at Tufts University School of Medicine, a member of the Molecular Microbiology and Immunology program faculties at the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Tufts, and adjunct assistant professor in biomedical engineering at Tufts University School of Engineering. She has been awarded a five-year, $1.5 million grant for her research focused on improving drug treatments for tuberculosis. 

The NIH Director’s New Innovator Award is a component of the High Risk-High Reward program supported by the NIH Common Fund, which helps advance visionary research that has the potential to transform scientific fields and greatly impact human health. 

Aldridge’s research addresses a major obstacle in controlling tuberculosis, which is the lengthy multi-drug therapy currently required to effectively cure the disease. Due to the prolonged treatment, adherence to the drug therapy can be difficult. In addition, when these drugs are misused or mismanaged, multi-drug resistance can develop. To improve health outcomes for patients, and reduce the emergence of drug-resistant strains of the disease, she hopes to shorten and simplify treatments for tuberculosis. The Aldridge lab includes a multidisciplinary team of researchers who combine molecular approaches with mathematical modeling to study the bacterium that causes tuberculosis. 

Tuberculosis is an infectious disease that spreads through the air and typically affects the lungs, but can attack major organs of the body. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 10,000 cases of tuberculosis were reported in the United States in 2012 and the disease affects one third of the world’s population. Most individuals who are infected do not become sick, while others will develop an active form of the disease. If not treated properly, the disease can be fatal. The World Health Organization notes that it is the second leading cause of death from an infectious disease worldwide.

“Bree Aldridge’s New Innovator Award recognizes her commitment to addressing a serious global health issue through scientific research and is an example of how members of the Sackler School faculty continue to strive to solve problems of biomedical importance,” said Naomi Rosenberg, Ph.D., dean of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and vice dean for research at Tufts University School of Medicine. 

Aldridge is one of 41 recipients of the 2013 NIH Director’s New Innovator Award. Applicants are reviewed by a multidisciplinary group of experts, and recipients are selected by the NIH Director based on recommendations by the review group. 

Established in 2007, the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award program is designed specifically for researchers in the early stages of their careers who have not yet received a Research Project Grant or equivalent NIH grant, to conduct exceptionally innovative research. 

A note regarding the above references to the Sackler School: In December 2019, Tufts University announced that it would remove the Sackler name from all programs and facilities—including the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences. At that time, the school was renamed the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.

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