THE GLOBAL VIRUS NETWORK (GVN) LAUNCHES AFRICA GVN TO JOIN FRENCH AND ENGLISH-SPEAKING SCIENTISTS IN THE FIGHT AGAINST INFECTIOUS DISEASES AND ONGOING EPIDEMICS

In the Midst of the Second Worst Ebola Outbreak Since Its Discovery, Top African Scientists Identify Ways to Battle Deadly Diseases Together

Baltimore, Maryland, USA, June 25, 2019: During a meeting held last month in Entebbe, Uganda, the Global Virus Network (GVN), representing 48 Centers of Excellence and 7 Affiliates in 29 countries comprising foremost experts in every class of virus causing disease in humans, launched the Africa GVN, a regional GVN chapter dedicated to leveraging the network’s broad resources and to combat viral diseases together despite English and French speaking language challenges on the continent. The announcement comes as the Democratic Republic of Congo faces a growing Ebola outbreak, which has jumped the border to Uganda with three confirmed cases.

“The meeting last month not only joined scientists that would not otherwise be collaborating due to language barriers, but was the catalyst in bringing together English and French speaking colleagues from the USA and Europe to discuss training, education and collaborative research programs that the GVN will be pursuing,” said Prof. Christian Bréchot, MD, PhD, president of the Global Virus Network (GVN), professor at the University of South Florida and executive director of the Romark Company Institute for Medical Research. “All of these activities will be executed in tight coordination with the institutions and networks already established in, and involved in, Africa such as the Africa CDC, African Academy of Sciences, the European Commission, Foundation Merieux and the International Network of the Institut Pasteur.”

Meeting participants were comprised of top virologists from around the world with a focus on African scientists; countries included those from Cameroon, Central African Republic, Germany, Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Madagascar, Netherlands, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Uganda and USA. The meeting focused on joint training and education initiatives, collaborative research in viral epidemics and creating partnerships with international organizations, industries, academia and governments.

“I am pleased that the GVN is developing programs that are sustainable in order for African virologists to have the opportunity to train locally and overseas in top institutions, and bring back virus expertise needed to effectively address threats such as the current Ebola outbreak,,” said Prof. Pontiano Kaleebu, PhD, MB ChB, director of the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) and director of the Medical Research Council/ Uganda Virus Research Institute and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine Uganda Research Unit.

Participants of the meeting outlined the need for specific training activities, such as biosafety, molecular virology, biobanking, field sampling of reservoirs, bioinformatics and initiation of research to develop evidence-based strategies to understand these viral epidemics better. The GVN is designing programs to meet these specific needs and will utilize its broad network of top virology institutions to provide exchange opportunities.

“I am pleased to see the GVN extend its reach in Africa to support strong existing organizations and forge new connections across cultures to strengthen efforts in order to effectively combat viral threats,” said Prof. Souleymane Mboup, PhD, president of Institut de Recherche en Santé, de Surveillance Epidémiologique et de Formation in Senegal.

“Africa in many ways is ground zero for global pandemics, as we are seeing with the current Ebola outbreak, and it is time that we go beyond language barriers and design universal training programs and research collaborations that are suited for young African virologists who are our next generation’s hope in protecting mankind from harmful and deadly diseases,” said Prof. Alash’le Abimiku, MSc, PhD, professor of medicine, Institute of Human Virology, University of Maryland School of Medicine and executive director, International Research Center of Excellence at the Institute of Human Virology-Nigeria.

The first GVN Africa Meeting was funded by Wellcome Trust, Servier/Association Science et Technologie (AST) and Cepheid.

About the Global Virus Network (GVN)
The Global Virus Network (GVN) is essential and critical in the preparedness, defense and first research response to emerging, exiting and unidentified viruses that pose a clear and present threat to public health, working in close coordination with established national and international institutions. It is a coalition comprised of eminent human and animal virologists from 48 Centers of Excellence and seven Affiliates in 29 countries worldwide, working collaboratively to train the next generation, advance knowledge about how to identify and diagnose pandemic viruses, mitigate and control how such viruses spread and make us sick, as well as develop drugs, vaccines and treatments to combat them. No single institution in the world has expertise in all viral areas other than the GVN, which brings together the finest medical virologists to leverage their individual expertise and coalesce global teams of specialists on the scientific challenges, issues and problems posed by pandemic viruses. The GVN is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. For more information, please visit www.gvn.org. Follow us on Twitter @GlobalVirusNews

Media Contact:
Nora Samaranayake, GVN
410-706-8614
[email protected]

The Global Virus Network (GVN) Announces The Addition Of Three New Centers Of Excellence Joining Organization

University of Wisconsin-Madison Global Health Institute, U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Vaccine Research and Review and the Smorodintsev Research Institute of Influenza of the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation Join Renowned Global Virus Network to Combat Viral Diseases

Baltimore, Maryland, USA, June 4, 2019: The Global Virus Network (GVN), representing 48 Centers of Excellence and 7 Affiliates in 29 countries comprising foremost experts in every class of virus causing disease in humans, announced today the addition of the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison) Global Health Institute, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Vaccine Research and Review (FDA-OVRR) and the Russian Federation’s Smorodintsev Research Institute of Influenza (the Institute) as its newest Centers of Excellence.  The announcement was made by Robert Gallo, MD, GVN co-founder and international scientific advisor and Christian Bréchot, MD, PhD, GVN president.

“The addition of these three Centers deepen our viral expertise in basic science, zoonotic and vaccine and drug therapy expertise, among other advantages,” said Dr. Gallo, The Homer & Martha Gudelsky Distinguished Professor in Medicine and Director of the Institute of Human Virology (IHV) at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, a GVN Center of Excellence. “UW-Madison is an impressive institution with a number of top virologists who will contribute to the GVN’s overall research and translational programs and global reach.  The FDA-OVRR will enhance the GVN’s contributions in the development of viral vaccines and drug therapeutics, while the Smorodintsev Research Institute of Influenza will contribute to our current influenza studies and other acute respiratory viral infection research.”

“The addition of two superb U.S. institutions and an accomplished Russian institution is a tribute to our commitment to advance science regardless of governments politics,” said Dr. Bréchot, professor at the University of South Florida and executive director of the Romark Company Institute for Medical Research. “With these new additions, the GVN will strengthen its biosecurity initiatives including our recently established Anticipation & Preparedness Taskforce, among other important projects.”

The UW-Madison Global Health Institute Center of Excellence (UW-Madison) will be led by Tony Goldberg, PhD, DVM, MS, professor, department of pathobiological sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, associate director for research, Global Health Institute, University of Wisconsin-Madison and Yoshihiro Kawaoka, DVM, MS, PhD, professor, department of pathobiological sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, director, Influenza Research Institute, University of Wisconsin-Madison.  Virology research at UW-Madison includes studies of agents infecting humans, animals and plants, including highly pathogenic viruses (e.g. the ebolaviruses) and viruses with pandemic potential (e.g. influenza virus, Dengue virus, Zika virus). Virology research at UW-Madison is currently and historically strong with respect to viruses that cause human cancer and the biochemistry of host-virus interaction.

The new Centers’ activities range from basic research to the development of vaccines and therapeutics to public health and policy. UW-Madison has specific strengths in emerging viral pathogens and zoonoses, including rapid detection and characterization of novel viral agents, the development of animal models (especially primates) and the development of countermeasures such as vaccines and therapeutics.  The Center will work close with GVN Center of Excellence colleagues at the Colombia-Wisconsin One-Health Consortium (CWOHC), led by Jorge Osorio, DVM, PhD, professor, department of pathobiological sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“With our new GVN membership, and in partnership with Dr. Osorio, we will expand the range of global training opportunities for our graduate students as well as provide the GVN with expertise in diverse viral systems of global importance and highly specialized methodologies,” said Drs. Goldberg and Kawaoka.  “We especially look forward to strengthening our international training opportunities via the GVN and forging new scientific collaborations with members of the GVN.”

The FDA Office of Vaccines Research and Review (OVRR) GVN Center of Excellence is led by Konstantin Chumakov, PhD, associate director, OVRR, and is one of the three product offices, in addition to the Office of Blood Research and Review and the Office of Tissue and Advanced Therapies that regulates gene and cellular therapies. OVRR is in the FDA Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER), the world’s oldest institution responsible for regulation of biologically-derived medical products. CBER conducts regulatory research to better understand basic and translational aspects of regulated products and to inform development, evaluation and manufacture of various biologicals. The area of regulatory and research purview of OVRR includes vaccines against viral, bacterial and parasitic diseases, allergenic products for both diagnostic and therapeutic use, as well as live bio-therapeutic products, such as probiotics, fecal microbiota transplantation and phage therapy. The Office research portfolio includes 35 independent research programs covering a wide range of viral and bacterial pathogens.

“We are pleased to join the GVN in an official capacity, as we have participated in GVN activities since its inception,” said Dr. Chumakov.  “We will continue working with the GVN to facilitate the sharing of information to develop and evaluate effective vaccines.  We also look forward to participating in and supporting the training of the world’s next generation of virologists.”

The Smorodintsev Research Institute of Influenza Center of Excellence, led by Andrey Vasin, PhD its Director, Head of the Molecular Biology of Viruses Department, is a leading institute in the field of virology in Russia.  The Institute’s main activities are tightly interconnected with influenza and other respiratory viruses. The Institute is also an active part of the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Surveillance and Response System (GISRS) and is a WHO-recognized National Influenza Centre since 1971. Other activities include vaccine research and development projects, including the possibility to conduct pre-clinical and clinical trials (all phases), antiviral research and system biology approaches for investigation of host-pathogen interactions.

“The institute is already engaged in broad international collaborative research in the field of molecular virology, genetic engineering, improving the quality of diagnostic products, designing and producing new influenza vaccines and antiviral drugs,” said Dr. Vasin.  “The GVN provides a unique opportunity to collaborate in the areas of vaccine research and development against respiratory pathogens, including joint grant applications and experience exchange. We look forward to hosting clinical trials of vaccines and novel drugs according to International standards, in addition to training exchange programs for our young scientists.”

The GVN will co-host its 11th International Meeting with the Spanish Society of Virology in Barcelona, Spain from June 9-12, 2019. Top virologists from around the world will discuss topics, including immunology and vaccines, antiviral drug therapy, virus-host interaction, diagnostic virology and epidemiology, morphogenesis and structural biology, emerging and re-emerging viruses, viruses as biotechnological tools and trending topics in virology.

 

About the Global Virus Network (GVN)

The Global Virus Network (GVN) is essential and critical in the preparedness, defense and first research response to emerging, exiting and unidentified viruses that pose a clear and present threat to public health, working in close coordination with established national and international institutions. It is a coalition comprised of eminent human and animal virologists from 48 Centers of Excellence and seven Affiliates in 29 countries worldwide, working collaboratively to train the next generation, advance knowledge about how to identify and diagnose pandemic viruses, mitigate and control how such viruses spread and make us sick, as well as develop drugs, vaccines and treatments to combat them. No single institution in the world has expertise in all viral areas other than the GVN, which brings together the finest medical virologists to leverage their individual expertise and coalesce global teams of specialists on the scientific challenges, issues and problems posed by pandemic viruses. The GVN is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. Follow us on Twitter @GlobalVirusNews