Rhode Island Science and Technology Advisory Council (STAC)

Making Innovation Central to Rhode Island's Future Gina M. Raimondo, Governor

Pfizer Awards $703K Grant to URI to Boost Pneumonia Vaccination Rates

Published on March 26, 2013

The Pfizer Medical Education Group has awarded University of Rhode Island pharmacy professor Kerry LaPlante a $703,000, 2.5-year grant to boost the pneumonia vaccination rate among Rhode Islanders older than 65 and those with compromised immune systems. LaPlante, whose specialties are infectious disease and drug resistant bacteria was one of only two applicants out of 70 nationwide to receive such a grant from the Pfizer group. She is also a past recipient of a STAC collaborative research grant for work to develop marine-based drugs to fight deadly hospital infections.

"This was a highly competitive grant process and I congratulate Professor LaPlante and the URI College of Pharmacy on its success," Governor Lincoln Chafee said. "I was proud to support Professor LaPlante's application because this valuable funding will ultimately help us achieve a healthier state - and that is a goal we all share."

The project's goal is to increase the vaccination rate from the current 71.7 percent to 90 percent. The initiative is especially important for Rhode Island, according to LaPlante, because the state has seen the incidence of invasive pneumococcal disease (pneumonia) increase from 9.1 per 100,000 individuals in 2007 to 11.9 in 2010. The 2010 incidence of invasive pneumonia was also markedly higher in the state compared to the national rate, 11.9 versus 8.8 per 100,000 individuals.

"Pfizer Medical Education Group liked the idea that we will be able to have an impact on the entire state," said LaPlante, "With such great support and involvement from so many agencies and companies, we can achieve the goals of this project," LaPlante said. "We are going to help make it as easy as possible for health care professionals to vaccinate their patients, including help with billing. This vaccine saves lives."

Read more about the award.


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