Annenberg Foundation Funds Cambodian Health Committee's Pioneering Research and Clinical Program to Fight TB and AIDS

CHC Press Release-Annenberg Foundation Award
For Release
September 14, 2008

Sok Thim, MD, Executive Director and Co-founder of the CHC, comforts Sai Van,70, who showed up for TB screening after a CHC Community Treatment Model awareness event in a nearby village. Sai, who had been coughing for years, has now been on TB medicines for two months. He has gained weight and is feeling better.

Boston, MA. The Cambodian Health Committee (CHC) has received a two-year, US$350 thousand award from the Annenberg Foundation to support a joint program of basic scientific discovery and treatment delivery aimed at halting the devastating twin epidemics of tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS in Cambodia and other poor countries. 

The funds, awarded to CHC in connection with additional grant support to the Immune Disease Institute in Boston, will support clinical and research operations in Cambodia and associated research on immunology in the IDI laboratory of Anne Goldfeld, MD, an associate professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health, and the co-founder of the CHC.

"The very generous support of Wallis Annenberg and the Annenberg Foundation will help us provide desperately needed care, and deal with the emergency in real time while pursuing fundamental scientific discoveries that will pave the way for better treatments in the future," said Goldfeld.

The CHC is a nonprofit US and Cambodian organization that combines medical care, research, advocacy and training to fight tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and poverty in Cambodia, one of the poorest post-conflict countries in the world. Starting with a handful of rural patients in 1994, the CHC has treated and cured thousands of Cambodians of tuberculosis and provides HIV/AIDS care for thousands more. The CHC's pioneering clinical programs of outreach, intensive patient and family support, and poverty-reduction programs have been adopted at a national level in Cambodia and by governments and organizations all over the world to fight TB and HIV/AIDS in resource-poor settings.

The Annenberg support will allow the CHC to scale up its treatment and training programs to reach even more people with TB, including those with drug resistant TB and AIDS.  In addition, funds for laboratory research at IDI and in Cambodia will allow Goldfeld and colleagues to continue to make progress using a unique synthesis of basic scientific discovery and delivery of care. 

"The research support is especially important because it helps the CHC combine delivery of much needed medical care with an active discovery program. Basic research enhances our understanding of these diseases and improves our ability to treat them in the future. That will benefit people all over the world, not just in Cambodia," Goldfeld explained.

Goldfeld's laboratory group at the IDI has made fundamental discoveries on the genetic basis of the immune response to the tuberculosis bacilli in various ethnic groups. Her work also led to the discovery of a unique set of immune cells important in fighting TB and other infectious diseases.  

The CHC is also pushing forward with clinical research aimed at improving treatment for TB and AIDS. The two diseases often go together in poor countries, where latent infections with the tuberculosis bacilli become active in immune-suppressed, HIV-infected people. Half of the 30 million AIDS deaths that have occurred worldwide so far have been due to TB. Even so, very little research has been done on how to manage the complicated treatment regimens for each disease when they occur together.

To fill that gap, the CHC is conducting a clinical trial in Cambodia to determine the best timing of combination HIV and tuberculosis drug treatments to maximize effectiveness and minimize side effects. That clinical work, funded by the Comprehensive International Program for Research on AIDS of the United States National Institutes of Health and the Agence Nationale Recherches sur le SIDA is the first-ever clinical trial of TB or HIV/AIDS treatment to take place in Cambodia.

The gift from the Annenberg Foundation will also help CHC expand its pioneering program to deliver drugs to patients with drug resistant TB both in Cambodia and in other countries.

"It is unacceptable that millions of people are dying from a curable disease, in the case of TB, and a treatable disease, in the case of AIDS," said Goldfeld. "Globally, we have failed to deliver a solution. As scientists and physicians, we have an obligation to work at this interface of discovery and delivery, and the support of the Annenberg Foundation will make this important work possible."

"The CHC is a recognized leader in creating new approaches to treat TB and AIDS in the field with tremendous success," says CHC Executive Director and Co-Founder Sok Thim, MD. "We are very grateful for the Annenberg Foundation's assistance in helping us fulfill the CHC mission of doing whatever it takes to help Cambodians and others lead healthy, productive lives free of tuberculosis and AIDS." 

About the CHC: Starting with a handful of patients in rural Cambodia in 1994, the CHC (www.globalhealthcommittee.org) has treated and cured thousands of Cambodians of tuberculosis and provides HIV/AIDS care for thousands more. The CHC's pioneering clinical programs of outreach, intensive patient and family support, and poverty-reduction programs have been scaled up by the Cambodian government and are now used all over the country. The CHC's techniques have also, been adopted by governments and NGOs all over the world to fight TB and HIV/AIDS in resource-poor settings. Recently, the  CHC adopted the name Global Health Committee to signify the expansion of its operational activities to other countries, starting in Ethiopia.

About the Immune Disease Institute: Founded in 1953, the IDI—formerly known as The CBR Institute for Biomedical Research—is an independent, nonprofit biomedical research institute in Boston, Mass., affiliated with Harvard Medical School. Its world-class investigators conduct breakthrough research on the immune system and inflammation - work that will lead to new therapies for millions of patients suffering from illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, HIV/AIDS, lupus, Alzheimer's disease, and immune deficiencies. Visit  http://idi.harvard.edu to learn more.

About the Annenberg Foundation: Established in 1989 by Walter H. Annenberg, the Annenberg Foundation (http://www.annenbergfoundation.org) provides funding and support to nonprofit organizations in the United States and globally through its headquarters in Radnor, Pennsylvania and offices in Los Angeles, California and Washington, DC. Its major program areas are education and youth development; arts, culture and humanities; civic and community life; health and human services; and animal services and the environment. In addition, the Foundation operates a number of initiatives which expand and complement these program areas. The Annenberg Foundation exists to advance the public well-being through improved communication. As the principal means of achieving this goal, the Foundation encourages the development of more effective ways to share ideas and knowledge.

For more information:

CHC Boston Office:
Cat Jackson-Mead
617-278-3351