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Daily Business Report — Dec. 18, 2009

La Jolla Institute to Launch Infectious Disease Study

The La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology will target some of the world’s most dangerous infectious diseases — tuberculosis, malaria and dengue virus — from a five-year, $18.8 million federally funded program to find vaccines against the diseases. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, funded the study, which also will target a component on smallpox, which remains a focus because of bioterrorism concerns.

The study will be led by Asessandro Sette, an expert on vaccine development and director of the La Jolla Institute’s Center for Infectious Disease. The study will focus on identifying epitopes — pieces of a virus or microbe that cause the body’s immune system to launch an attack. Epitopes are important for protective immunity and are key to developing new and more effective vaccines.

Sette said significant advances in bioinformatics and genomic sequencing over the last 10 years will enable the La Jolla Institute team to seek more comprehensive epitope identification than ever before.  “The genomes of microbes of very large sizes are now available,” he said, referring to biomedical advances that have allowed the entire molecular blueprint of many viruses and microbes to be mapped.  In addition, bioinformatic prediction, which uses computer modeling and algorithms for disease research, has been greatly refined, he said.

Joel Ernst, director of infectious diseases at New York University and a leader in the field of tuberculosis immunology, said the La Jolla Institute study may lead to an improved approach to tuberculosis vaccine development.  “The scientific community’s knowledge of T cell epitopes in TB is currently very limited,” he said, noting that scientists are aware of a number of tuberculosis epitopes, but know little about those that have been identified.

The World Health Organization said about 1.6 million people die from tuberculosis each year and another nearly 1 million deaths are caused by malaria.

Law Firm Distributes $3.45 Million Settlement Money

The Mogin Law Firm in San Diego said it has distributed $3.45 million to 10 San Diego legal societies, organizations and charities from settlement funds from a Smokeless Tobacco class action case. At the conclusion of such cases, it is common to have funds that for a number of reasons cannot be distributed directly to the class members technically entitled to the funds. The doctrine of “cy pres” literally allows the court to do the “next best thing” and distribute the remaining funds to one or more charitable organizations.

The organizations receiving cy pres awards include the Legal Aid Society of San Diego, the California Highway Patrol 11-99 Foundation, California Indian Legal Services, University of San Diego Legal Clinics, Feeding America San Diego, San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program, United Way of San Diego, San Diego Audubon Society, California Western School of Law and Thomas Jefferson School of Law. Total distributions were made to 45 California legal societies, organizations and charities, such as the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund, Food Banks throughout California, Surfrider Foundation, California Ducks Unlimited, Sierra Club, Keep America Beautiful and the National Wildlife Federation.

In the Smokeless Tobacco Cases I-IV, a certified class of California smokeless tobacco purchasers alleged that U.S. Smokeless Tobacco and related entities engaged in sales practices that made it possible for U.S. Smokeless Tobacco to monopolize the market for moist smokeless tobacco products in violation of the antitrust and consumer protection laws of the state of California. The plaintiffs alleged that, as a result, they paid more for U.S. Smokeless Tobacco moist snuff tobacco products than they would have absent the alleged conduct. U.S. Smokeless Tobacco’s moist smokeless tobacco products include Copenhagen, Skoal, Rooster, Red Seal, Bandits, Pouches and Husky.

“This is an unprecedented and truly astounding financial development for the San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program,” said Amy J. Fitzpatrick, its executive director. “We are carefully considering a number of options, but, are certain to use the award to strengthen our financial base and to enhance our service delivery to those most in need in San Diego County.”

Feeding America San Diego received $400,000, according to Gary McDonald, president and CEO of the organization. “The $400,000 gift we received from The Mogin Law Firm comes at a time when we need it most,” he said. “The number of people living in poverty in San Diego County last year increased by a whopping 46,000 people to 367,000 people with approximately one-third of them being children.”

The fund distribution was announced by Daniel J. Mogin of The Mogin Law Firm, which specializes in plaintiffs’ antitrust, consumer protection, investment and complex business and class action litigation.

County Unveils new Medical Examiner & Forensic Center

Chairwoman Dianne Jacob and the Board of Supervisors unveiled the new County Medical Examiner & Forensic Center in Kearny Mesa on Thursday, an 84,000-square-foot facility that includes a Bereavement Center, expanded toxicology lab, teaching classroom and electronic touch-screens at exam stations to better manage cases. “This is critical public infrastructure designed to meet the region’s changing needs for decades to come,” said Jacob. “The center can accommodate a large-scale disaster while prioritizing compassion for grieving families.”

The center, located at 5570 Overland Ave., meets silver-level LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

The Board of Supervisors budgeted $85 million for the project, but it came in at $73 million. The county paid for the project in cash. It is the first building to be completed within the larger County Operations Center campus currently under construction.

Federal Contract Awards . . .

Larscor General Contractors Inc. in San Diego, won a $743,060 federal contract from the U.S. Department of Veterans AffairsNetwork 22 Logistics Office in Long Beach for the renovation of restrooms to correct accessibility deficiencies under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Lasater Construction Co. Inc. in Encinitas won a $287,225 federal contract from the U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Reclamation in Sacramento for the construction of a potable water treatment system at the Melones Power Plant.

Gen-Probe Inc. in San Diego won a $172,500 federal contract from the U.S. Army Medical Command, Fort Gordon, Ga., for a direct tube sampling Tigris platform with analyzer and vacuum pump.

Redhorse Corp., San Diego, won a $2.3 million federal contract from the General Services Administration’s Federal Acquisition Service, Kansas City, Mo., for facilities maintenance and management.

Access I/O Products Inc., San Diego, won a federal contract valued at up to $125,000 from the General Services Administration’s Federal Acquisition Service, Fort Worth, Texas, for scientific equipment and services.

(Source: Targeted News Service)

Frank Motors Group Hosts Party for Monarch School Kids

Frank Motors Group of San Diego hosted its 17th annual Christmas Party for children of the Monarch School of San Diego. The Monarch School of San Diego has dedicated itself to “restoring hope and unleashing dreams” by providing homeless and at-risk children with an accredited education while caring for their basic needs. The Frank Motors Christmas Party is designed to give these less fortunate children an uplifting Christmas experience they may not experience otherwise. The party included a fun meal of pizza, pasta, salad and dessert was held in the Frank Toyota showroom. Those in attendance included Frank Motors Group founder Frank Fornaca Sr., as well as Santa Claus. A week prior to the event each student received a gift catalog and selected three gifts they wished for.  The Frank Motors Group and its employees personally sponsored each of the students making sure that each child received one of the gifts that they had already selected.  The individually selected gift was then specifically delivered to each student by name from Santa Claus at the event.

The Daily Business Report is a product of REP Publishing Inc., publisher of San Diego Metropolitan magazine and the North Park News.

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