Global Virus Network Warns U.S. of Growing Measles Threat

Oct. 1, 2013 17:39 UTC

Global Virus Network Warns U.S. of Growing Measles Threat

BALTIMORE–(BUSINESS WIRE)– The Global Virus Network (GVN), a coalition of the world’s leading medical virology research centers working to prevent illness and death from viral disease, today warned the U.S. of a startling rise in measles cases particularly in the last couple of years. Measles were eliminated in the U.S. by 2000, but according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control in the first eight months of 2013 the U.S. saw nearly 160 cases of measles – which many believe will rise as a growing number of parents choose not to vaccinate their children in which state law does not otherwise apply.

“Measles is a dangerous disease. We lose sight of the dangers because currently the disease is rare in the US and usually imported from other countries where measles is more prevalent,” explains Dr. Diane Griffin, GVN Center of Excellence Director and Alfred and Jill Sommer Professor and Chair, W. Harry Feinstone Department of Molecular Biology and Immunology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Griffin continued, “While most cases resolve with no complications in 10-14 days, measles can cause diarrhea and ear infections, as well as other serious side effects – seizures, pneumonia and encephalitis, which can each lead to death. The most vulnerable in the US are those under the age of 12 to 15 months, when the measles vaccine is usually given. Infants are therefore at the highest risk. Those who do not vaccinate their own children place infants of other families at risk as well as their own children.”

As experts and leading researchers on all viral diseases, GVN Centers of Excellence are working to improve the measles vaccine and better understand the complications of measles for the global population. “There is still much to do in terms of improving vaccinations against measles. While the two dose regimen provides protection for populations when delivered appropriately, a single dose regimen would be ideal and for developing countries a vaccine that did not need refrigeration or require a needle and syringe would facilitate delivery,” notes Professor Griffin, whose own laboratory focuses on understanding how the body responds to the measles vaccine to provide protection. She explained further that research to develop a dry powder vaccine delivered by inhalation is one promising line of research. The dry powder vaccine uses the same safe live vaccine virus that is currently given by a shot, but is given through a face mask. This way trained medical personnel, refrigeration and needles and syringes are not required. The dry powder vaccine is effective in animal models and is currently being tested in humans.

For the looming situation in the United States, Professor Griffin encouraged all families to ensure that their children are properly vaccinated against measles. “We cannot sit back and wait for measles to once again take hold in the United States,” she warned.

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Moscow Meeting of Top Virus Researchers Catalyzes Global Collaborations

September 26, 2013 11:41 AM Eastern Daylight Time

BALTIMORE–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Members of the Global Virus Network (GVN), which includes foremost experts in every class of human virus, and represents more than 20 countries, met in Moscow this month to share information on devastating viral threats. Top scientists shared intelligence on an array of diseases threatening global health, including China’s H7N9 influenza epidemic, the alarming rise in measles cases in Europe and the United States, the unexpected re-emergence of polio, and insidious viruses causing cancer lymphomas, to name a few. Robert C. Gallo, MD, GVN Co-Founder and International Scientific Advisor, said, “The scientific presentations at the meeting were terrific and varied. The meeting helped forge collaborations around the world that might not otherwise exist. For example, during the meeting we launched an important training program between researchers and clinicians at our Institute in Baltimore and with those in Moscow and surrounding regions in Russia.”

“Research presented in Moscow was very stimulating, and Moscow served as a catalyst for scientific collaborations that would not otherwise have been initiated”

Newly elected Chairman of the GVN Board of Directors ,Chief Executive Officer of Burrill & Company, said, “What once was a regional epidemic today grows exponentially into a global threat due to international travel, trade and other factors. A strong, interconnected network of medical virologists – a GVN – is mankind’s best defense against new and existing viral threats.” Burrill continued, “In Moscow, we strengthened our network through scientist-to-scientist exchanges on drug and vaccine development on a range of critical viral diseases, including HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, measles, influenza, enterovirus, polio hemorrhagic fever and the 20% of cancers caused by viruses. Face-to-face meetings of scientists are essential in pushing knowledge forward. Our gathering of world leaders in medical virology is a vital element to success against viral foes.”

Co-founded in 2011 by Dr. Gallo, most widely known for his pioneering discoveries of the first human retroviruses, co-discovery of HIV as the cause of AIDS, and development of the HIV blood test, and his colleagues William Hall, MD, PhD, Chair of Medical Microbiology and Director of the Centre for Research in Infectious Diseases at University College Dublin’s (UCD) School of Medicine and Medical Science in Dublin, Ireland, and Reinhard Kurth, MD, former Director of the Paul Ehrlich Institute and the Robert Koch Institute and Chairman of the Foundation Council at Ernst Schering Foundation in Berlin, Germany, GVN fulfills the need for substantive increases in global collaboration to overcome gaps in research during the earliest phases of viral epidemics and medical training programs enhancing the numbers of rising medical virologists trained to meet these challenges.

“Research presented in Moscow was very stimulating, and Moscow served as a catalyst for scientific collaborations that would not otherwise have been initiated,” said Gallo, also Director of the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “We are all very grateful to our GVN Russian Center of Excellence Head and host of the meeting, Alexey Mazus, MD, Chief Expert on HIV/AIDS for the Russian Federation Ministry of Health and Head of the Moscow Center for HIV/AIDS Prevention and Treatment. We look forward to launching our new collaboration.”

GVN President welcomed the announcement by Dr. Mazus explaining that the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine will serve as the first training site for young Russian scientists.  The President continued,  “In addition to training in clinical virology, we hope to expand our relationship with the Russian GVN to include training for post-doctoral research fellows and other scholarships in medical virology, building on the strong foundation in virology already present in Russia.”

In addition to the Russian GVN and IHV GVN Center of Excellence collaboration announcement, IHV Associate Director and Director of the Clinical Care and Research Division, Robert Redfield, MD and his John Hopkins University colleague John Bartlett, MD and Dr. Mazus released a Russian clinical training book, “Medical Management of HIV Infection,” in partnership with the GVN.

GVN will hold its next meeting in Xi’an, China in May 2014.

GVN Co-Founder William Hall Receives Prestigious Vietnamese Honor

GVN Co-Founder William Hall Receives Prestigious Vietnamese Honor

In a ceremony in Hanoi this month, GVN Co-Founder William Hall of University College Dublin, Ireland and Director of the Atlantic Philanthropies (AP), was presented an insignia award by the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organisations (VUFO) for his immense efforts and contributions to the development of the Vietnamese health and education systems as well as to the country’s poverty reduction.  Dr. Hall’s efforts since 2007 with the Ireland Vietnam Blood-Borne Virus Initiative (IVVI), a collaboration with the University College Dublin – a GVN Center of Excellence – has led to, nine Vietnamese students completing the program, three of whom are GVN Scholars.  When receiving the honor, Dr. Hall said he considers Vietnam his second home and will continue his efforts in building Vietnam’s public health and education infrastructures.  For more information, please refer to the cover article in GVN’s latest Virion newsletter.

Link to announcement 


An evening discussion on pandemic disease and economic security

Recently, GVN was hosted in Washington to tell its story to a high-powered group of diplomats, business leaders, media and public policy gurus, all with the view of discussing the importance of the Global Virus Network within the context of national security.  We were hosted by one of GVN’s newest Board Members, Franco Nuschese, who worked in partnership to put the event together with a long-standing supporter and GVN Board Member, Raj Shah, and his wife Bharti.

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Reflections on the GVN Munich meeting

June 3, 2013

With the 5th semi-annual meeting of the Global Virus Network just behind us, I take this opportunity to offer some reflections and perspectives.  My first reflection is to look back on the beautiful host city of Munich, a bustling modern city that has managed to maintain its particular  historic charm and warmth.   Our 75 meeting participants, who hailed from 19 countries, reveled in the spirit of Bavaria at Zum Franziskaner, where we enjoyed an evening of local fare and traditions, and the Villa Stuck, where we experienced the art of one of Munich’s most famous citizens.  This was a warm and welcoming platform for the scientific discussions that took place over the course of three days.  We are deeply grateful the Technical University of Munich and the Center for Infection Research for hosting us with style!

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Join Us!

Dear GVN Friends and Colleagues,

Every day, and on every corner of the globe, people become sick, and millions die, from viral infections. Old, young, rich and poor. We are all susceptible to viral disease. While preventive vaccines and drugs are available to fight some of these viruses, for many diseases, the scientific community has yet to develop diagnostic tests, vaccines to stop their spread, or dependable treatments. Worse, even as we combat known foes, viruses continue to evolve so the global community must be ever vigilant against new viruses causing diseases. SARS, West Nile, and H1N1 flu are recent examples of viruses which emerged to threaten large swaths of the globe. To protect human health, improve economies and enhance security, the medical virology community must work with a renewed vigor and with singular focus and purpose: to stop the spread of viral disease.

The Global Virus Network (GVN) envisions a world in which viruses do not ruin lives and economies. GVN is a coalition of top medical virologists from over 20 nations, all working together to speed the path to new knowledge on all of the medically important viruses. GVN is unique: it brings together experts on every medically relevant virus, and it fosters a community that will share expertise and knowledge, the very foundations of a strong scientific enterprise. The GVN advances research, supports training of tomorrow’s virologists, educates communities about viral threats and the promise of research, and advocates on behalf of the medical virology community worldwide. A strong GVN is an essential defensive mechanism against the viruses that cause illness and death today. And, as history reminds us, a strong GVN will be essential as newly emerging viral threats are discovered.

Having worked in global health for more than 20 years, I know that the hallmarks of successful global health programs are solid and sustained science coupled with strong political will. GVN is working through its scientists and its many partners to improve the health of people worldwide. We believe that viruses can be conquered. Join us!


Munich Meeting Discussion

The following are comments from the Munich Meeting.