Top GVN Experts Inspire Rising International Virologists

Baltimore, Maryland, USA, August 29, 2019: The Global Virus Network (GVN) earlier this month held its 6th Annual Short Course in Basic and Translational Virology on July 28-August 3 for 18 early-career human and animal virologists from Argentina, Bolivia, Germany, Hong Kong, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Nigeria, South Korea and United States of America. The preeminent one-week course on basic, translational and clinical aspects of viruses featured world-renowned researchers drawn from GVN Centers of Excellence, encompassing 51 Centers of Excellence and nine affiliates in 30 countries and comprising foremost experts in every class of virus causing disease in humans and some animals. The Short Course is designed to counter a declining number of researchers entering the field of human and animal virology.

The announcement was made by Robert Gallo, MD, Co-Founder and International Scientific Advisor, GVN and Christian Bréchot, MD, PhD, President, GVN.

“The annual GVN Short Course is a unique opportunity I wish I had when I was new to the field,” said Gallo, who is also The Homer and Martha Gudelsky Distinguished Professor in Medicine, Co-Founder & Director, Institute of Human Virology (IHV), University of Maryland School of Medicine, a GVN Center of Excellence. “Scientific research challenges, such as developing an effective preventive HIV vaccine candidate, abound. It is incumbent upon my colleagues and I to cultivate an environment to advance and train burgeoning medical virologists, and to prepare them to take collective responsibility for current and future viral threats.”

“This year’s agenda included presentations from GVN experts in hepatitis, hepatocellular carcinoma, human T-cell leukemia virus, human immunodeficiency virus, measles, arboviruses, Ebola, Lassa fever, bioinformatics, influenza, human papilloma viruses, polio and other enteroviruses, bio-surveillance, biosafety and biosecurity, antiviral drug discovery, laboratory diagnostics, vaccine development and One Health,” said Bréchot. “Participants visited GVN Centers of Excellence at the IHV and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, where they received an insectary tour. They also visited the National Institutes of Health for a tour of the National Library of Medicine and to hear presentations from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the Fogarty International Research Center.”

At the end of the annual course, participants elect a fellow participant as the “next emerging leader in virology” based on leadership and expertise. This year’s nominee, who will return next year as a speaker, is Matilu Mwau, MB, ChB, MTM, DPhil, Chief Research Officer, Kenya Medical Research Institute. Past nominees include Florian Krammer, PhD (2014), Associate Professor, Department of Microbiology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, USA; Christina Gavegnano, PhD (2015), Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Emory University, USA; Miguel Garcia-Knight, PhD (2016), Centro de Investigaciones en Ciencias Microbiológicas, Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla, Mexico; Yuki Furuse, MD, PhD (2017), Assistant Professor at the Institute for Frontier Life and Medical Sciences at Kyoto University, Japan; and, Elysse Grossi-Soyster, MS, (2018) Laboratory Manager & Researcher, LaBeaud Lab, Stanford University School of Medicine.

“The GVN Annual Short Course is intense and comprehensive,” said Mwau. “We were trained by renowned experts including, Drs. Robert Gallo and Scott Weaver, on the most important emerging and reemerging viral diseases. By the end of the course, I had already decided that my infectious diseases research interests must be adjusted to capture these realities.”

“The GVN short course is a unique opportunity to learn first-hand from the experts who have generated much of the cutting edge research that forms the basis of our understanding of viral outbreaks causing the worst diseases in the world today,” said Allison Totura, PhD, a participant of this year’s course and ORISE Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Viral Pathogenesis Branch, Virology Division, U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases. “To be able to gain the perspective of collective leaders in the many aspects of medical virology on where the field stands as well as where it is going is an unparalleled resource to early career scientists. Although I have a PhD in Microbiology and Immunology, this course helped to fill gaps in my didactic training that can only be provided by the best of the best in the fields of basic and translational science. One of the greatest benefits of the course is the connections made with virologists studying similar pathogens, as the GVN works to link virologists around the globe who have similar interests, but might not otherwise connect with each other.”*

This year’s GVN Short Course speakers, in addition to Gallo and Bréchot, among others, included: Konstantin Chumakov, PhD, Associate Director for Research, Office of Vaccines Research and Review, U.S. Federal Drug Administration; José Esparza MD, PhD, Adjunct Professor of Medicine, IHV and formerly of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Health Organization; Genoveffa Franchini, MD, Senior Investigator, Vaccine Branch, Head, Animal Models and Retroviral Vaccines Section, National Cancer Institute, NIH; Robert Garry, PhD, Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, Associate Dean for the Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences, Tulane Medical School; Diane Griffin MD, PhD, University Distinguished Service Professor of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; RADM Peter Kilmarx, MD, FACP, FIDSA, Deputy Director, Fogarty International Center, National Institutes of Health (NIH); Shyam Kottilil, MD, PhD, Professor of Medicine, Director, Division of Clinical Care and Research, IHV; Christopher Kratochvil, MD, Professor, Associate Vice Chancellor for Clinical Research Chief Medical Officer, UNeHealth, University of Nebraska Medical Center; Mary Marovich, MD, Director, Vaccine Research Program, Division of AIDS, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH; Gene Morse, PharmD, FCCP, BCPS, SUNY Distinguished Professor, School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Director of the UB Center for Integrated Global Biomedical Sciences, Co-Director of the SUNY Global Health Institute, University at Buffalo; Ab Osterhaus, PhD, DVM, Director, Research Center for Emerging Infections and Zoonoses, Professor, University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, CEO, Artemis One Health Foundation; Manizhe Payton, MPH, Director, Office of Clinical Site Oversight, Division of AIDS, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH; Richard H. Scheuermann, PhD, Director, La Jolla Campus. J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI); and, Scott Weaver, MS, PhD, John Sealy Distinguished University Chair in Human Infections and Immunity, John S. Dunn Distinguished Chair in Biodefense, Scientific Director, Galveston National Laboratory, The University of Texas Medical Branch.

The GVN is a global authority and resource for the identification and investigation, interpretation and explanation, control and suppression, of viral diseases posing threats to mankind. It enhances the international capacity for reactive, proactive and interactive activities that address mankind-threatening viruses and addresses a global need for coordinated virology training through scholarly exchange programs for recruiting and training young scientists in human and animal virology. The GVN also serves as a resource to governments and international organizations seeking advice about viral disease threats, prevention or response strategies, and GVN advocates for research and training on virus infections and their many disease manifestations.

The GVN will host its 12th International meeting in Colombia, Medellin, September 13-15, 2020.

*The information contained in this press release does not necessarily reflect the position or the policy of the Government and no official endorsement should be inferred.

About the Global Virus Network (GVN)

The Global Virus Network (GVN) is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization, comprised of leading human and animal virologists from 30 countries. The GVN’s mission is to combat current and emerging pandemic viral threats through international collaborative research, training the next generation of medical virologists, and advocacy. For more information, please visit Follow us on Twitter @GlobalVirusNews

Media Contact:
Nora Samaranayake, GVN


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 Follow us on Twitter @GlobalVirusNews

Media Contact:
Nora Samaranayake, GVN