All Posts By

Communications PR

Scott Weaver with First Robert C. Gallo Award

By | News | No Comments

Global Virus Network (GVN) Presents Mosquito-Borne Virus Expert for Scientific Excellence
The Award was presented during a meeting organized by Emory University and co-sponsored by the GVN on the Zika virus
May 2, 2016, Atlanta, GA: The Global Virus Network (GVN), representing 35 Centers of Excellence and 5 Affiliates in 26 countries, and comprising foremost experts in every class of virus causing disease in humans, today announced Scott Weaver, MS, PhD, as the first recipient of the GVN Robert C. Gallo Award for Scientific Excellence. Dr. Weaver is Chair of GVN’s Chikungunya and Zika Task Forces as well as director of the University of Texas Medical Branch’s Institute for Human Infections and Immunity and scientific director of the Galveston National Laboratory, a GVN Center of Excellence. The Award was presented by José Esparza, MD, PhD, president of the GVN and Raymond Schinazi, PhD, Hon Dsc, member of the GVN Board of Advisors and Zika Task Force and the Frances Winship Walters Professor at Emory University. The honor was bestowed during a scientific meeting entitled, “Bridging the Sciences: Zika Virus,” organized by Emory University and co-sponsored by GVN in Atlanta, Georgia May 1-3, 2016.

Link- Dr. Robert Gallo Congratulates Dr. Scott Weaver on First GVN Robert C. Gallo Award for Scientific Excellence
L to R:Drs Raymond Schinazi, Scott Weaver,José Esparza,Mario Stevenson, Suzane K Ono-Nita

L to R: Raymond Schinazi, PhD, Hon Dsc, Emory University; Scott Weaver, MS, PhD, Galveston National Laboratory; José Esparza, MD, PhD, president of the GVN; Mario Stevenson, PhD, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine; and, Suzane K Ono-Nita, MD, PhD, University of São Paulo

“It was unanimous when deciding who should receive the inaugural Award, and it is my great pleasure that Dr. Scott Weaver will be the first honoree,” said Dr. Robert C. Gallo, co-founder and scientific director of the Global Virus Network (GVN), The Homer and Martha Gudelsky Distinguished Professor in Medicine, co-founder and director of the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, a GVN Center of Excellence. “Dr. Weaver is not only a leader in the GVN, but an exceptional public health virologist who is most deserving of this recognition. A warm congratulations to Dr. Weaver.”

 

Scott Weaver, MS, PhD Biography

Scott Weaver, MS, PhD, is a virologist and vector biologist who advances our understanding of arthropod-borne viruses (arboviruses) and their transmission by mosquitoes, and develops vaccines to control the diseases that they cause. As a faculty member since 1994 at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in Galveston, he has developed an internationally recognized research program encompassing the ecology and epidemiology of enzootic arbovirus transmission cycles, virus-mosquito interactions, and emergence mechanisms of epidemic strains. Dr Weaver utilizes his broad training to develop interdisciplinary approaches that have had major impacts on our understanding of arboviral disease emergence. These include Venezuelan equine encephalitis, for which the international research groups he has led determined the ecological and evolutionary sources as well as mechanisms of epidemic strain emergence. Dr Weaver’s recent studies have focused on chikungunya virus, its history of emergence from wildlife African cycles, mosquito-adaptive evolution, and its viral genetic constraints, as well as Zika virus, which arrived in the Americas and is causing a major epidemic associated with congenital microcephaly and Guillain Barré syndrome. His research on tropical arboviral diseases has included major field studies in Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Mexico, Panama, Senegal, and Kenya. Dr Weaver has also developed promising new vaccines for several of these arboviral diseases. The chikungunya vaccine developed in his laboratory, licensed to Takeda Pharmaceuticals and patented in 19 countries, is in late preclinical evaluation.

Dr Weaver’s research has led to over 260 peer-reviewed publications in scientific journals, and over 70 reviews and book chapters. He has mentored 18 PhD students as well as 23 postdoctoral fellows, and many have gone on into prominent, independent scientific positions in government, academia, and industry. Dr Weaver’s research and educational contributions have been recognized with many local and international awards. In 2014 he received the Walter Reed medal, awarded every three years by the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene for distinguished career accomplishments in tropical medicine research. His many leadership positions include his current role as chair of the Global Virus Network’s Chikungunya and Zika Task Forces. He also serves as an editor for several major tropical medicine and microbiology journals. At UTMB, Dr Weaver leads the Institute for Human Infections and Immunity (IHII), which coordinates infectious disease research as the administrative home of the Galveston National Laboratory (one of two NIH-funded national biocontainment facilities); the Sealy Center for Vaccine Development; the Center for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases; and the Center for Tropical Diseases. He is also scientific director of the Galveston National Laboratory, and interim chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology.

 

GVN Launches Zika Task Force

By | News | One Comment

Global Virus Network (GVN) Launches Zika Task Force Comprised of Leading Virus Researchers from Around the Globe

GVN catalyzes international collaborations in an effort to address the urgent need to share information and research to better combat the global Zika outbreak

February 11, 2016, Baltimore, MD: The Global Virus Network (GVN), representing 35 Centers of Excellence and 5 Affiliates in 26 countries, and comprising foremost experts in every class of virus causing disease in humans, today announced the formation of the GVN Zika Task Force chaired by Scott Weaver, PhD, who is also co-chairman for the GVN Chikungunya Task Force and is director of the University of Texas Medical Branch’s Institute for Human Infections and Immunity and scientific director of the Galveston National Laboratory, a GVN Center of Excellence. The GVN Zika Task force, which is expected to grow, fills a gap identified by leading scientists to catalyze urgent international collaborative research. The announcement was made today by Robert Gallo, MD, co-founder of the GVN and chair of GVN’s Scientific Leadership Board and José Esparza, MD, PhD, president of the GVN.

“I am pleased to chair GVN’s Zika Task Force which will serve as a catalyst for driving communication and information flow between fellow GVN colleagues researching and responding to the Zika epidemic gripping much of Central and South America and the Caribbean,” said Dr. Weaver. “Our research team has been studying Zika virus for several years now, including working with countries such as Senegal to study enzootic ecology as well as Brazil and Mexico in developing sensitive diagnostics to identify those infected and follow the epidemiology of these outbreaks.” Dr. Weaver continued, “We look forward to beginning nonhuman primate model development next month and continuing vaccine research, and to coordinating efforts with others in the GVN Zika Task Force in these efforts.”

“GVN’s mission includes accelerating research from our Centers of Excellence to advance testing, treating and prevention tools to clinics worldwide,” said Dr. Gallo, who is also The Homer & Martha Gudelsky Distinguished Professor in Medicine and Director of the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, a GVN Center of Excellence. “Having said that, people constantly ask scientists to move faster, act quicker. To them I suggest investing more in research to advance laboratory discoveries so that when acute outbreaks such as Zika or Ebola occur, public health officials are better prepared.” He continued, “We need to be – and we can be – on the offense, not defense.”

Zika virus is transmitted to humans primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito, which are the same species spreading the chikungunya and dengue viruses. This presents a scientific problem in that the Zika virus is challenging to diagnose because, once viremia ends after about 7 to 10 days of acute infection, there are cross reactions among antibodies generated by other flaviviruses such dengue and yellow fever, which are endemic in many regions experiencing outbreaks.

“Zika virus is being actively transmitted in 29 countries and one US territory, and the numbers will continue to grow,” said Dr. Esparza. “A global response is imperative. International collaborations and shared information is key to addressing the Zika virus outbreak. The GVN Zika Task Force fulfills this by strengthening GVN’s internal and external strategic alliances involved in the urgent response to this global public health emergency.”

Giuseppe Ippolito, MD, scientific director of the National Institute for Infectious Diseases Lazzaro Spallanzani in Rome, Italy, which is a member of Italy’s GVN Center of Excellence said, “We are pleased to be of service in the international response to this world crisis via the Global Virus Network. Our institute has established a collaborative project with colleagues in Slovenia and Brazil to study Zika virus occurrence and pathogenesis, and we look forward to sharing our findings with other members of the GVN Task Force.”

There is evidence suggesting Zika virus can cause microcephaly, a neurological condition in newborns that includes an abnormally small head due to abnormal brain development, leading to lifelong mental impairment and in some cases death. Currently, there are no reports of infants obtaining Zika virus through breastfeeding. Although spread of the virus through blood transfusion and sexual contact has been reported, more research is needed to determine the role of direct human-to-human transmission in the current epidemic.

Jorge Osorio, PhD, a professor of infectious diseases at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a GVN Zika Task Force member, recently returned from researching Zika virus in Colombia, where the total of confirmed Zika cases is second only to Brazil. “We are building the capacity to better diagnose Zika infections in Colombia, as well as dengue and chikungunya, which are also viruses contracted by the same mosquitoes. As we learn more about this virus and others like it, particularly through other members of the GVN Task Force, we will better predict similar outbreaks. In the meantime, we need to control mosquito populations in affected regions, and promote protection tactics against mosquitoes.”

In children and adults, Zika virus infection is generally mild – some develop flu-like symptoms, joint pain, eye inflammation and rashes, while other people may not have any symptoms. The disease may also lead to serious complications, including Guillain-Barre syndrome, a disorder where the immune system attacks the peripheral nerves, sometimes leading to paralysis.

For more information on the Global Virus Network Zika Task Force please visit: http://gvn.org/zika/

Members of the GVN Zika Task Force:

Chair: Scott Weaver, MS, PhD
Institute for Human Infections and Immunity, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX, USA

Sazaly Bin Abu Bakar, PhD, Msc, Bsc
University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Michael Diamond, MD, PhD
Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO, USA

Antoine Gessain, MD, PhD       
Institut Pasteur, Paris, France

Susan J. Fisher, PhD
UCSF School of Medicine

Xavier Abad Morejón de Girón, PhD
Centre de Recerca en Sanitat Animal, Catalonia, Spain

Diane Griffin, MD, PhD
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, USA

Andrew Haddow, PhD
United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease, MD, USA

Giuseppe Ippolito, MD
National Institute for Infectious Diseases Lazzaro Spallanzani, Rome, Italy

Albert Ko, MD
Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, CT, USA

Alain Kohl, PhD
MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research, Glasgow, Scotland

Marc Lecuit, MD PhD
Institut Pasteur, Paris, France

Eric Leroy, PhD
Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, Montpellier, France

Julius Lutwama, PhD
Makerere University, Uganda Virus Research Institute, Entebbe, Uganda

John Mackenzie, AO, PhD, FTSE, FASM, FACTM
Curtin University, Perth, Australia

Núria Busquets Martí, PhD
Centre de Recerca en Sanitat Animal, Catalonia, Spain

Jorge Osorio, PhD  
University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, USA
University of Antioquia Medical School and Fundacion Antioqueña de Infectologia, Medellin, Colombia

 

Amadou Sall, PhD
Institut Pasteur de Dakar, Dakar, Senegal

Raymond Schinazi, PhD, Hon DSc
Emory School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA, USA

Ed Tramont, MD
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Maria Van Kerkhove, PhD
Institut Pasteur

Nikos Vasilakis, PhD
University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas, USA

David Watkins, PhD
University of Miami, Miami, FL, USA

Stephen Whitehead, PhD
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

In the News: February 16, 2016
Baltimore Sun

Renowned Public Health Virologist José Esparza Ushers in New Era for Global Virus Network (GVN) as President

By | News | No Comments

Renowned Public Health Virologist José Esparza Ushers in New Era for Global Virus Network (GVN) as President

Prominent drug discoverer, virologist, and entrepreneur Raymond Schinazi is also elected to the GVN executive committee and esteemed lawyer Tim Moynahan is reappointed as GVN Chairman of the Board of Directors

January 27, Baltimore, MD: The Global Virus Network (GVN), representing 34 Centers of Excellence in more than 25 countries and comprising foremost experts in every class of virus causing disease in humans, today announced the appointment of José Esparza, MD, PhD as President of the GVN. Dr. Esparza’s appointment will boost GVN’s global impact given his long and distinguished career in global health, and in particular vaccine development, as evidenced by his successful leadership roles at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). The GVN also announced the election of Raymond Schinazi, PhD, Hon DSc to GVN’s executive committee and the reappointment of Tim Moynahan, Esq as Chairman of GVN’s Board of Directors. The announcement was made today by Robert Gallo, MD, co-founder of the GVN and Chair of the GVN’s Scientific Leadership Board.

“With the appointment of José Esparza as President, Raymond Schinazi as a dedicated member of the GVN leadership team and Tim Moynahan’s Board leadership expertise, GVN is well positioned to grow its visibility and presence around the world,” said Dr. Gallo, who is also The Homer & Martha Gudelsky Distinguished Professor in Medicine and Director of the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, a GVN Center of Excellence. “Dr. Esparza brings a unique set of expertise in that he is a renowned medical virologist who also has tremendous success in executing and implementing global health policies, while Dr. Schinazi is an outstanding leader in the field and has been enormously successful in translating research to antiviral therapies that have saved the lives of millions of people globally. Mr. Moynahan is a long-time leader of the GVN and brings a wealth of expertise to harvest and focus our Board’s multidisciplinary talents.” Dr. Gallo continued, “This, combined with their collective passion for, and belief in, the GVN will undoubtedly enhance and grow the GVN’s mission to combat epidemics and emerging viral infections through research collaborations, training the next generation of medical virologists, and advocacy.”

As GVN President, Dr. Esparza’s priorities include growing GVN’s funding base by linking governments, businesses, philanthropic organizations and other entities with interest in safeguarding the globe against existing and future viral threats. Dr. Esparza will also harness his expertise in science to initiate and strengthen international collaborations between top researchers in the GVN as well as to extend GVN’s reach to important regions of the world.

“Viral outbreaks know no boundaries,” said Dr. Esparza. “Particularly in today’s vast global economy, each day brings a new viral threat. And each day, there continues to be an urgent need to bring GVN to all parts of the world as no other organization like it exists. GVN is not tied to politics and is driven by the biomedical research produced by its Centers of Excellence in a singular effort to protect the world from infectious disease.”

Prior to joining GVN as President, from 2004 to 2014 Dr. Esparza was with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle, WA, first as Senior Advisor on HIV Vaccines and subsequently as Senior Advisor on Global Health (Vaccines). He has published seminal work in the field of rotaviruses, combining basic science with epidemiology and clinical work.   From 1986 to 2004, Dr. Esparza worked with WHO and UNAIDS, in Geneva, Switzerland, where he became a global leader in the field of HIV vaccines. Dr. Esparza is author of over 180 publications and has served on multiple advisory committees around the world. He is a member of the Venezuelan Academy of Medicine and has received numerous international honors.

As a member of GVN’s executive committee, Dr. Schinazi will provide invaluable council to ensure GVN’s varying programs and initiatives continue to grow and succeed. Dr Schinazi, who holds more than 90 issued U.S. and international patents, is a world leader in the area of nucleoside chemistry and is the founder of several biotechnology companies focusing on antiviral drug discovery and development. He is also the founder of highly successful drug therapy conferences, encouraging scholarship and collaboration in the areas of HIV, hepatitis, and mosquito borne virus research. “GVN fills an international gap between virologists via its network and, as such, is an essential global asset and a necessary entity in the collective fight against viral threats around the world,” said Dr. Schinazi. “I am pleased to work with such an exceptional group and be a part of this new chapter of GVN.”

In his reappointed position as Chairman of the GVN Board of Directors, Mr. Moynahan will spend significant time in growing GVN’s funding sources and strengthening GVN’s public and private sector relationships. Mr. Moynahan, a preeminent litigation attorney and founder of The Moynahan Law Firm, has been a member of numerous corporations and charitable organizations’ board of directors, including the Post University MBA Advisory Council, the International Network for Cancer Treatment and Research (INCTR) and President of the Connecticut Chapter of the Ireland Chamber of Commerce in the United States. “It is with great enthusiasm I welcome Dr. Esparza as the newly appointed President of the GVN and Dr. Schinazi as a core leader in the GVN,” said Tim Moynahan, Chairman of the GVN Board of Directors. “Since the beginning – even before GVN’s formal declaration in March 2011 at the Embassy of Italy in Washington, D.C. – we have passionately believed in GVN’s unique vision to fulfill a significant void in the global war on viral infectious diseases, and it is in this spirit that Drs. Esparza and Schinazi will no doubt lead the GVN.”

Global Virus Network Adds University of Miami Center for AIDS Research as Newest Center of Excellence

By | News | No Comments

Global Virus Network Adds University of Miami Center for AIDS Research as Newest Center of Excellence

Baltimore, November 17, 2015: The Global Virus Network (GVN), representing more than 25 countries and comprising foremost experts in every class of virus causing disease in humans, announced today the addition of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine AIDS Institute, led by Mario Stevenson, PhD as GVN’s newest Center of Excellence. The AIDS Institute at the University of Miami coordinates all AIDS research programs including the Miami CFAR is the first National Institutes of Health-funded Center for AIDS Research (CFAR). Florida has the highest number of diagnosed HIV infections and second in estimated AIDS diagnoses of children greater than 13 years of age living with a diagnosis of HIV or AIDS. The announcement was made by Robert Gallo, MD, GVN Co-Founder and Scientific Director and  GVN President.

“The GVN Center Directors are delighted that the University of Miami Miller Medical School AIDS Institute will be joining GVN,” said Dr. Gallo, who is also Director of the Institute (IHV) of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, a GVN Center of Excellence. “This new Institute adds an important region in the U.S. which we did not have previously, as it will link us to Latin American communities and Caribbean nations.” He continued, “Although it is relatively small in numbers, the quality of the science is at the highest level and is driven by their Director, Mario Stevenson, who is also a key member of the Scientific Advisory Board at IHV. Mario has contributed greatly to the field of HIV and their work in primate models is as good as it gets.”

Miami is an epicenter of the AIDS epidemic in the U.S. and, from a health care standpoint, is the gateway to the Caribbean and South America. The University resides in a geographic area that is disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS and is now amongst the first regions in the U.S. facing threats from emerging infectious diseases including Dengue and Chikungunya.

“The whole of the GVN benefits from inclusion of the Miami group given the strong ties between Miami and collaborators in key countries,” said the GVN President. “The coalition of 35 Centers of Excellence in the GVN became stronger with this important addition,” she added.

“We are honored to be a part of the Global Virus Network. The GVN comprises scientists with remarkable track records in virology research. We believe that the collaborative environment provided by this global enterprise will serve us well in our efforts to transform the lives of individuals afflicted by viruses such as HIV, Hepatitis C and Dengue”, said Dr. Stevenson, Professor in the Department of Medicine, Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases, Director of the UM AIDS Institute and Co-Director of the Center for AIDS Research at the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine.