Global Virus Network Announces Inaugural Cohort of Rising Star Mentorship Program

The five awardees will receive training and mentorship to help support and propel their rising careers in virology

BALTIMORE, MD, August 18, 2021: The Global Virus Network (GVN), a coalition comprised of human and animal virologists from 63 Centers of Excellence and 11 Affiliates in 35 countries, today announced the five inaugural members of the GVN Rising Star Mentorship Program. This new initiative was created to identify and support promising, early career investigators to help them become leaders in the field of infectious diseases, as well as support the development of innovative diagnostic and interventional approaches to fight human pathogens.

“As novel emerging infectious diseases are threatening public health, it is critical to support and nurture early career, well-trained virologists,” said Christian Bréchot, MD, PhD, President of the GVN, Associate Vice President for International Partnerships and Innovation at University of South Florida, and Professor, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Internal Medicine at the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine, the GVN Southeast U.S. Regional Headquarters. “As such, the GVN has developed this training and mentoring program for the next generation of virologists as a part of its core mission.”

“This current pandemic taught us again how important it is to train and nurture the next generation of virologists, so we can be better prepared for future viral pandemic threats,” said Robert Gallo, MD, The Homer & 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, and Co-Founder and International Scientific Advisor of the GVN.

As the only coalition of its kind, the GVN Rising Star Mentorship Program offers a rare opportunity for future virology leaders to collaborate with key researchers, medical practitioners and decision makers driving scientific, evidence-based solutions for some of today’s largest challenges in public health. The five awardees for the inaugural cohort of the program include:

  • Dr. Jana Broadhurst, MD, PhD, DTM&H, Assistant Professor of Pathology and Microbiology, University of Nebraska Medical Center, USA
  • Dr. Kizzmekia S. Corbet, PhD, Assistant Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, USA
  • Dr. Adeola Fowotade, PhD, Instructor of Medical Microbiology and Parasitology, University of Ibadan, Nigeria
  • Dr. Vineet Menachery, PhD, Assistant Professor of Immunology and Infectious diseases, University of Texas Medical Branch, USA
  • Dr. Piya Paul Mudgal, PhD, Associate Professor of Virology, Institute of Virology, Manipal Institute of Virology, India

“I am so grateful for this opportunity,” said Adeola Fowotade. “This program will give me the chance to receive topflight mentorship from GVN senior virologists and scientists and to engage with both industry and academia partners globally.”

Earlier this year, GVN received a donation of US$1 million to support the GVN Academy, an initiative that fosters global collaboration by providing training and mentoring programs for rising junior virologists. With these funds, the organization launched the GVN Rising Star Mentorship Program, which plans to mentor 15 scientists over the course of two years as well as connect each mentee with a GVN senior virologist who can help provide one-on-one research and career guidance. Participants of the program will also be invited to participate in exclusive GVN meetings and other professional development opportunities in virology.

“We are confident that this opportunity can lead to further collaboration with a variety of GVN projects and help foster the rising stars’ career path,” said Elodie Ghedin, PhD, Chief of the Systems Genomics Section at the Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, USA, and evaluation committee member for the GVN Rising Star Mentorship Program. “The application process was very competitive, so I would like to congratulate the five Rising Star awardees and other candidates as well.”

To learn more about the GVN Rising Star Mentorship Program, visit here.

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 63 Centers of Excellence and 11 Affiliates in 35 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 https://gvn.org/. Follow us on Twitter at @GlobalVirusNews

Media Contact:
Nora Samaranayake, GVN
443-823-0613
[email protected]

Global Virus Network Recommends Moving Forward With Boosters for COVID-19 Response

Fragile populations should receive a booster third dose of the COVID-19 mRNA vaccine to help protect against emerging variants

BALTIMORE, MD, August 10, 2021: Members of the Global Virus Network (GVN), a coalition comprised of human and animal virologists from 63 Centers of Excellence and 11 Affiliates in 35 countries, and colleagues, today shared that GVN supports policies by global health leaders to offer booster doses, or third doses of the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines, to fragile populations such as the elderly and immunocompromised people. GVN also recommends continuing to monitor emerging data to assess the need for boosters for other groups and populations.

The World Health Organization’s request for a moratorium on the administration of a booster comes at a time when many low- and middle-income countries are currently facing very low vaccination rates and challenges with administering doses. GVN scientists believe that the only way to control the COVID-19 pandemic is through worldwide vaccination, but as nations struggle to raise their vaccination rates and address their unvaccinated, the GVN believes it is wise to better prepare for future variants by reinforcing the immunity of fragile populations with booster vaccines where possible.

“This is one of the more challenging questions facing the effort to control the virus on a worldwide basis – should we be boosting the immunity of those already vaccinated if their immunity is starting to wear off, or should we focus maximum resources on initial immunizations for populations in need?” said Christian Bréchot, MD, PhD, President of the GVN and Professor at the University of South Florida. “The reality is, until the pandemic is controlled on a worldwide basis, it is not under control. GVN believes it is reasonable, and in fact feasible, to meet both the global demand for vaccination and provide sustained protection to vulnerable individuals who have already achieved their first vaccination regimen.”

New data is showing that even countries with a very high rate of vaccination, many have not yet achieved herd immunity. Some research is also suggesting that even an 80% vaccination rate may not be sufficient against highly contagious variants, such as the Delta variant. And in recent cases, breakthrough infections of the Delta variant in fully vaccinated people have revealed similar viral loads and contamination risks as unvaccinated individuals.

“While data has shown COVID-19 mRNA vaccines continue to provide protection against severe disease of COVID-19 and mortality months after immunization, even against the current variants, it’s important to acknowledge that there is a steady decline of COVID-19 neutralizing antibodies being seen in most vaccinees six months after the second dose,” said Linfa Wang, PhD, GVN Center of Excellence Director and Director of the Program in Emerging Infectious Diseases at Duke-NUS Medical School. “High levels of neutralizing antibodies and quality of memory B cells will be required to provide a lasting immunity and prevent further spread of this virus.”

As the science continues to evolve, the GVN believes that all nations need to clearly define their vaccination priorities, remembering that the environment of one country should not be the basis of decisions being made for a different country’s population. The members of the GVN are also united in their call for a stronger, international collaborative effort to share COVID-19 vaccination and variant data so global leaders and politicians can better base their decisions on science, rather than public sentiment.

The scientists of GVN will continue to stay tuned to developments of vaccines designed specifically for current variants, keeping in mind that the current vaccines do offer a level of cross-protection against the circulating variants.

For the full GVN recommendation, please click here.

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 63 Centers of Excellence and 11 Affiliates in 35 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
443-823-0613
[email protected]

Global Virus Network’s Position on the Administration of Booster Doses of the COVID-19 Vaccine

Scientists from the Global Virus Network (GVN) centers have discussed the World Health Organization’s request for a moratorium on the administration of a booster, or a third dose of the COVID-19 mRNA vaccine for Pfizer or Moderna recipients, while many around the world have not yet received their initial immunizations. Considering the emerging variants of COVID-19, the GVN supports offering booster doses to better support fragile populations, such as the elderly and immunocompromised people. The GVN believes that all global nations need to clearly define their vaccination priorities and base their decisions on administering boosters on scientific data, versus politically driven sentiment.

GVN scientists believe that the best way to end the COVID-19 pandemic is through worldwide vaccination. GVN acknowledges that a systemic, collaborative effort has been challenging for many low- and middle-income countries currently facing very low vaccination rates, despite efforts by COVAX and other health organizations. At the same time, GVN believes it is reasonable, and in fact feasible, to meet both the global demand for vaccination and provide sustained protection to vulnerable individuals who have already achieved their first vaccination regimen.

COVID-19 mRNA vaccines continue to provide sufficient protection against severe disease of COVID-19 and mortality months after immunization, even against the current variants, but we already see clear trends emerging. There is a steady decline of COVID-19 antibodies being seen six months after the second dose and that high levels of neutralizing antibodies and good quality of memory B cells are be required to provide a lasting immunity and prevent the spread of the infection.

In fact, even countries with a very high rate of vaccination have not yet achieved herd immunity. Data is showing that even an 80% vaccination rate may not be sufficient against highly contagious variants, such as the Delta variant. Recent studies have shown breakthrough infections of the Delta variant in fully vaccinated people, who have been seen to share similar viral loads and contamination risks as unvaccinated individuals. As nations struggle to raise their vaccination rates and address their unvaccinated, GVN believes we must prepare for even more contagious variants by reinforcing the immunity of our fragile populations with booster vaccines. At this time, GVN recommends continuing to monitor the data to assess the need for boosters for other groups and populations.

The scientists of GVN will continue to stay tuned to developments of vaccines designed specifically for current variants, keeping in mind that the current vaccines do offer a level of cross-protection against the circulating variants and that the environment of one country should not be the basis of decisions being made for a different country’s population.

Thus, the GVN supports the move to create a strategy for booster doses that can help support fragile populations while maintaining the effort to vaccinate countries in need. GVN also recommends a stronger, international collaborative effort to share data so global leaders and politicians can better base their decisions on science, rather than sentiment.

Global Virus Network (GVN) Adds Senegal’s IRESSEF As Newest Member to Mitigate Viral Threats

Baltimore, Maryland, USA, July 15, 2021: The Global Virus Network (GVN), representing 63 Centers of Excellence and 11 Affiliates in 35 countries comprising foremost experts in every class of virus causing disease in humans, and the Institut de Recherche en Santé, de Surveillance Epidémiologique et de Formation [Institute for Health Research, Epidemiological Surveillance and Training], or the IRESSEF, announced the addition of the IRESSEF as GVN’s newest Center of Excellence.

“We are pleased to join scientists from the IRESSEF since they will provide a significant scientific contribution to the GVN, and also they will reinforce the interactions between English and French speaking colleagues in Africa and all around the world to discuss training, education and collaborative research programs that the GVN will be pursuing,” said Christian Bréchot, MD, PhD, who is President of the GVN and Professor at the University of South Florida.  “These partnerships are executed in tight coordination with the institutions and networks already established in, and involved in, Africa such as the African Society of Laboratory Medicine (ASLM), Africa CDC, African Academy of Sciences, Foundation Merieux and the International Network of the Institut Pasteur.”

IRESSEF laboratories focus on several aspects of viral pathogens including human immunodeficiency virus, viral hepatitis, human papilloma virus, herpes simplex viruses, emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases including Ebola, Zika, SARS-CoV-2, among others. The latest GVN Center is led by Souleymane Mboup, PharmD, PhD, Professor in Microbiology, Founder and CEO of IRESSEF and Founding member of the ASLM.

“To conduct quality research, it is important to build a new generation of researchers through high quality training and mentorship,” said Dr. Mboup. “We look forward to working with the GVN to build capacity and transfer technology to set the stage for quality research, to building new strategic partnerships and gaining visibility and impact, and the IRESSEF is keen to offer its laboratory platform and facilities to host GVN trainings.”

IRESSEF is located near in Diamniadio, near Dakar and works in unison with national organizations such as the Ministry of Health and Social Action, and with institutes, universities, governmental and non-governmental organizations across Africa as well as many Western institutions. IRESSEF embeds a routine medical laboratory; several research laboratories with a focus on immunology, virology, genomics, molecular biology, microbiology, and a BSL-3; a clinical trials platform; an epidemiological department; a social sciences department; and, support platforms for maintenance and metrology, biosafety and quality management systems, biobank, IT, communication, administration, financials and, international partnerships. IRESSEF, through its Proficiency Testing Program, produces and provides QC panels to around one hundred PEPFAR-supported laboratories in Africa. IRESSEF laboratories are ISO 15189 & ISO 15190 accredited.  Further, IRESSEF manages and/or participates in different research networks including the West African Node of Excellence for Tuberculosis, AIDS, Malaria (WANETAM), United World for Arbovirus Network (UWARN), West Africa Global Health Alliance (WAGHA), African Coalition for Epidemic Research, Response and Training (ALERRT), and the Innovation in Laboratory Engineered Accelerated Diagnostics (iLEAD).

“Africa is the epicenter of many epidemics, and an important partner in researching viral threats,” said Robert Gallo, MD, The Homer & Martha Gudelsky Distinguished Professor in Medicine, Co-Founder and Director of the Institute of Human Virology (IHV) at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, a GVN Center of Excellence, and Co-Founder and International Scientific Advisor of the GVN.  “We are most pleased to welcome our colleagues from Senegal into the GVN and look forward to meaningful collaborations.”

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, existing 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 63 Centers of Excellence and 11 Affiliates in 34 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
410-706-1966
[email protected]