2022 Early Career Research Awards

2022 Early Career Research Awards

In 2022, the National CMV Foundation funded two Early Career Research Awards to support innovative research related to maternal or congenital CMV infections. The National CMV Foundation (NCMVF) Early Career Congenital CMV Research Award (ECRA) is a $50,000 award to fund innovative research related to maternal or congenital CMV infections. Preference is given to projects in areas including, but not limited to, health services implementation, proof of concept or program evaluation, CMV disparities, public health messaging, prevention, treatment, or outcomes.

One of our awardees was Dr. Elisabeth McClymont. Dr. McClymont is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Departments of Pediatrics and Obstetrics & Gynecology at the University of British Columbia. She completed her PhD in Reproductive & Developmental Sciences at the University of British Columbia in 2020. Under the mentorship of Dr. Soren Gantt and Dr. Isabelle Boucoiran, Dr. McClymont’s research aims to improve the lives of women and their infants through improved prevention and management of viral reproductive pathogens. Her work has focused primarily on CMV, HPV, and HIV.

Dr. McClymont's funded project involves using stored clinical samples from infants congenitally infected with CMV and their mothers and uses new technologies to provide detailed information about the virus in both mother and baby. This research will shed light on new versus existing infections in mothers and which strains of CMV tend to result in congenital infection, and which strains should be included in candidate CMV vaccines.

Our second awardee was Ms. Claire Otero. Ms. Otero is a PhD student in Pathology at Duke University, completing her graduate studies at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City under the mentorship of Dr. Sallie Permar. She graduated in 2018 from The College of Idaho, with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. Following her graduate training, Claire will look to complete a postdoctoral fellowship in molecular virology before pursuing an independent research career.

Vaccination is a promising strategy to prevent congenital CMV infection and associated birth defects. However, CMV is good at evading the immune system, contributing to difficulties achieving a licensable vaccine. For her funded project, Ms. Otero is studying the viral proteins involved in one such mechanism that inhibits key antibody responses and assess their utility as potential vaccine targets.

We are happy to report that both projects are well underway, and we look forward to sharing updates upon completion.