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SEATTLE - (March 2, 2009) — Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason (BRI) was awarded approximately $1 million of a $2.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to the Hepatitis B Virus Clinical Research Network.

The goal of the network, which includes BRI, the University of Washington and the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, is to accelerate clinical research, increase understanding of the immunology of chronic hepatitis B and design treatment protocols for currently available therapeutic agents.

Approximately 1.5 to 2 million Americans and more than 350 million people throughout the world have chronic hepatitis B. A significant portion of these individuals are at increased risk for developing cirrhosis, liver failure and liver cancer.

Kris Kowdley, MD, of Virginia Mason's Center for Liver Disease, is the principal investigator for the BRI grant, and VM's Chia Wang, MD, is a co-investigator. Robert L. Carithers, Jr., MD, is the principal investigator for the University of Washington. Brian McMahon, MD, is the principal investigator for Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium. This is one of 12 grants studying chronic hepatitis B nationally.

"Despite more than 40 years of investigation, basic questions about chronic hepatitis B remain," said Dr. Kowdley, a national leader in liver disease. "Our hope is that through our part in this national work, we'll make meaningful strides in patient care and treatment protocols. I'm excited to be part of this collaboration."

About Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason
Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason (BRI), founded in 1956, is an international leader in immune system and autoimmune disease research, translating discoveries to real-life applications. Autoimmune disease happens when the immune system, designed to protect the body, attacks it instead. BRI is one of the few research institutes in the world discovering causes and cures to eliminate autoimmune diseases such as Type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, arthritis and many others. Visit www.benaroyaresearch.org for more information about BRI, clinical studies and the more than 80 different types of autoimmune diseases.

For media inquiries only, contact:
Alisha Mark
(206) 341-1509

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