GLOBAL VIRUS NETWORK AND ABBOTT LAUNCH PANDEMIC DEFENSE POSTDOCTORAL FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM

The partnership is training the next generation of virologists to combat future pandemic threats, with a focus on pathogen discovery in developing nations

Baltimore, Maryland, USA, April 6, 2022 – The Global Virus Network (“GVN”), the world’s leading coalition of virologists combatting current and emerging pandemic viral threats, and Abbott, the global healthcare company, announce the GVN – Abbott Pandemic Defense Coalition Postdoctoral Fellowship Program aimed at building the pipeline of virus hunters to improve pandemic preparedness and health security across the world.

The program will provide the latest scientific training in new pathogen discovery, genomic sequencing, and laboratory analysis led by leading virologists and clinicians from across GVN’s 68 centers of excellence and affiliates in 36 countries.

To prepare for the next pandemic, the world needs more virologists. Within a few decades, Duke’s Global Health Institute estimates that novel disease outbreaks will likely increase three-fold, driven by globalization, population growth and closer contact between humans and animals. The WHO recommends a global ratio of one field epidemiologist for every 200,000 people. Only a fraction of countries have met that goal.[1]

“SARS-CoV-2 highlights the importance of funding science and the next generation of virologists in an effort to stay ahead of deadly pandemics,” said Christian Bréchot, MD, PhD, President of the GVN. “We are pleased to join Abbott to ensure these scientists receive topflight training in the identification of unknown diseases through surveillance, viral genomic sequencing analysis and bioinformatics. Further, we look forward to building research capacity around the world, especially in developing nations.”

Building scientific capability to stay ahead of viral threats

Last year, Abbott established the Pandemic Defense Coalition, the first-of-its-kind, industry-led, global scientific network dedicated to the early detection of, and rapid response to, future pandemic threats. The Coalition comprises 14 entities, including networks, governments, and public health organizations on five continents that are actively identifying, analyzing, tracking and testing viral threats.

“Our world is more connected than ever so a viral threat somewhere is a viral threat everywhere,” said Gavin Cloherty, PhD, head of Infectious Disease Research and the Pandemic Defense Coalition, Abbott. “That’s why it is so important to start training the next generation of virus hunters and public health experts in every corner of the world to raise our pandemic defenses to stay ahead of both known and unknown pathogens.”

The Fellowship will support one-year post-doctoral training fellowship for applicants with a MD, PhD, or DVM degree(s) with the potential to extend to a two-year program.  GVN centers of excellence and affiliates will host participants who will complete a comprehensive laboratory training to develop skills and contacts within GVN’s international community of medical virologists.  They will also master the skills of identifying new pathogens and increasing research capacity.

“Fellowships such as these are integral in helping developing nations build their capacity to prevent and prepare for future pandemics,” said Christine Carrington, PhD, Professor of Molecular Genetics and Virology at The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, a GVN Affiliate, and a member of GVN’s Emerging Pathogens Discovery Network Watch Group.  “GVN’s resources are truly a global asset, particularly as it relates to expanding the skill sets of emerging medical virologists through elite cross-training opportunities at GVN’s centers of excellence and affiliates.”

Collaborating across private-public partnerships to benefit world health

The GVN is a global authority and resource for viral diseases posing threats to mankind.  It enhances the world’s ability to address viral threats and delivers scholarly exchange programs for recruiting and training young scientists in human and animal virology. The GVN serves as a resource to governments and international organizations seeking advice about viral disease threats, prevention or response strategies, and advocates for research and training on virus infections and their many disease manifestations.

“One of the core reasons my colleagues and I founded the GVN was to cultivate an environment to advance and train researchers, and to prepare them to take collective responsibility for current and future 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 pleased that Abbott shares this mission to improving public health equity and safeguarding our future generations through the latest education and training opportunities.”

For more information on GVN’s Fellowship Programs, please contact [email protected]

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 69 Centers of Excellence and 11 Affiliates in 37 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]

[1] https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/hs.2019.0119

‘LIVE’ POLIO VACCINE FIRES UP IMMUNE SYSTEM PROVIDING PROTECTION FROM SARS-CoV-2 INFECTION

Global Virus Network (GVN) studies suggest that the oral polio vaccine can protect people in developing nations that do not yet have access to COVID vaccines

Baltimore, Maryland, USA, March 31, 2022: Two new studies from the Global Virus Network (GVN) in partnership with the Petroleum Industry Health Organization of Iran provide evidence that getting the oral polio vaccine made from live, weakened poliovirus may protect people from COVID-19 infection by stimulating the immune system.

One of these studies demonstrated a lower incidence of COVID infections in countries in which people received the ‘live’ polio vaccine compared to countries that only received the polio vaccine that does not contain a live virus. These findings were published on March 17, 2022, in PLOS One.

Another report from the research team showed that when young children received the ‘live’ polio vaccine their mothers, who were indirectly exposed to the poliovirus vaccine, did not get infected with COVID. This study was published late last year in JAMA Network Open.

Within a few hours of exposure to any pathogens — including weakened viruses like those in the oral polio vaccine —, the immune system activates its first line-of-defense. This defense produces an immune response to a broad variety of pathogen-related molecules and ramps up the immune system’s readiness for invaders: a process sometimes called ‘trained innate immunity.’ The outcome from one of these newest studies indicate that this trained innate immune response spurred by vaccination using the live poliovirus may provide protection for up to 6 months against COVID infection.

The researchers say that this implies that these live vaccines, technically known as live attenuated vaccines, may be used temporarily to protect people in low-income countries that do not yet have access to COVID vaccines.

“Although countries like the U.S. and those in Europe are dropping pandemic restrictions, many people in lower income countries remain unvaccinated due to lack of supply. Individuals in these countries are still at high risk for COVID infection and potential complications, particularly since these regions still lack the latest treatments and enough ventilators for those who need them,” said co-author Shyam Kottilil, MBBS, PhD, Professor of Medicine and Director of the Division of Clinical Care and Research, Institute of Human Virology, Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and senior advisor to the GVN. “These live vaccines may provide a stop gap to reduce hospitalizations and deaths until we can get these people COVID vaccines.”

Senior author on the studies 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 of the GVN and Chair of the GVN’s Scientific Leadership Board, said, “Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, prior to development of effective vaccines we proposed using live attenuated vaccines as a temporary solution to boost immunity until the vaccine could be developed. This idea directly stemmed from my GVN colleague and co-author Dr. Konstantin Chumakov, whose parents were vaccine researchers in the 1970s Soviet Union. His parents observed that flu rates seemed to drop in those people given the oral polio vaccine. Other GVN colleagues joined us in advocating for studies to determine if these live attenuated vaccines would be a feasible strategy during the coronavirus pandemic. Now we have some of the first evidence that they do offer protection. I hope funders take notice and increase support for these types of trials that study the innate immune response and provide significant hope in mitigating future pandemics.”

Co-author Konstantin Chumakov, PhD, a GVN Center of Excellence Director, said, “These observations are yet another confirmation that live vaccines induce broad protection against infections caused by pathogens other than their direct target. They urgently call for the direct prospective clinical studies of this phenomenon that could lead to the development of a novel class of vaccines based on stimulation of trained innate immunity. Such vaccines could become the badly needed universal countermeasure against emerging infections.”

“The GVN serves as a catalyst to bring together the world’s foremost virologists,” Christian Bréchot, MD, PhD, President of the GVN, Associate Vice President for International Partnerships and Innovation at University of South Florida (USF), 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. “We are pleased to work with varying nations to initiate these important clinical trials.”

In the PLOS One study, the researchers compared infection rates per 100,000 people in 146 countries that received both the live and the injectable polio vaccine, which does not contain live virus, compared to 56 countries that only used the injectable, non-live version. They found infection rates in countries that did not use the live polio vaccine were about three times higher than those that did use the live polio vaccine.

For the JAMA Network Open study, the researchers followed 419 mothers in Iran whose young children were given the live polio vaccine compared to 3,771 mothers whose children did not receive the live polio vaccine. None of the mothers whose children received the live polio vaccine developed COVID, whereas 28 mothers whose children did not receive the live polio vaccine did contract COVID within 9 months. Researchers know that poliovirus and even the weakened virus from the vaccine can be shed in the stool. The researchers surmise that the mothers were exposed to virus when caring for their children through bathing and diaper changing.

“It is heartening to find similar study results obtained from very different approaches strengthening our hypothesis that using the oral vaccine may provide protection against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID,” said the first author on the studies Farrokh Habibzadeh, MD, Special Consultant on Public Health for the GVN and the Managing Director of the Research & Development Unit of the Petroleum Industry Health Organization of Shiraz, Iran. He added that, “This hypothesis should be tested in additional quality clinical trials, preferably conducted in countries where the oral polio vaccine is currently in use as part of their national immunization for polio.”

Co-author Kristen Stafford, PhD, MPH, Associate Professor of Epidemiology & Public Health at the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and member of the GVN, said, “Some high-income countries declare pandemics over when in fact they just transition to only affecting low-income countries. We do not want this pandemic to become like the HIV-epidemic, where years and years of delays led to millions of excess deaths because the antiretroviral medications were too limited in supply or expensive to reach those disproportionately affected. We need to find simpler, inexpensive solutions to protect people until they can get their full doses and boosters of the COVID vaccines.”

One of the limitations of the live, weakened vaccines, is that they are not recommended for people with suppressed immune systems, as it could lead to infection.

“The important observations that the oral polio vaccine may protect against different infections such as COVID-19 is crucial for future pandemic preparedness. Understanding the mechanisms of protection induced by the oral polio vaccine and other live attenuated vaccines can open the door for the development of improved vaccination strategies to protect against broader infections, and thus provide partial protection against new pathogens during a pandemic until specific vaccines can be developed,” said Mihai Netea, MD, PhD of the Department of Internal Medicine and Radboud Center for Infectious Diseases, Radboud University Medical Center, a GVN Center of Excellence, and GVN Center Director.

Additional authors on the studies include Mohammad Sajadi, MD, Professor of Medicine at the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and member of the GVN; Mahboobeh Yadollahie, MD, Ashraf Simi, BScN, Saeid Saeidimehr, MD, (JAMA Network Open only), Mohammad Rafiei, MD, (JAMA Network Open only), and Iman Hafizi-Rastani, MSc (PLOS One only) of the Petroleum Industry Health Organization of Iran.

The authors received no specific funding for this work.

Dr. Kottilil received grants from Gilead for other research and serves on the advisory boards of Merck and Regeneron

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 69 Centers of Excellence and 11 Affiliates in 37 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 gvn.org. Follow us on Twitter @GlobalVirusNews

Global Virus Network Adds the Aegis Consortium as Newest Center of Excellence

Baltimore, Maryland, USA, March 23, 2022: The Global Virus Network (GVN), representing 69 Centers of Excellence and 11 Affiliates in 37 countries comprising foremost experts in every class of virus causing disease in humans and some animals, and the Aegis Consortium at the University of Arizona Health Sciences announced today the induction of Aegis as GVN’s newest Center of Excellence.

“We are pleased to add the Aegis Consortium’s diverse experts from all corners of the human experience to develop pandemic solutions,” said Christian Bréchot, MD, PhD, who is President of the GVN and Professor at the University of South Florida.  “An immediate priority is to incorporate Aegis’ expertise on prolonged COVID-19 symptoms to identify risks contributing to post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection, as well as approaches for treatment and prevention.”

The Aegis Consortium is located within University of Arizona Health Sciences, an internationally recognized leader in biomedical research and one of the top-ranked academic medical centers in the southwestern United States. UArizona Health Sciences includes the College of Medicine – Tucson, College of Medicine – Phoenix, College of Nursing, R. Ken Coit College of Pharmacy, Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, and Health Sciences Global and Online. Located on campuses in Tucson, Phoenix and Gilbert, Arizona, UArizona Health Sciences reaches across Arizona, the Southwest and around the world to provide next-generation education, research, clinical care and outreach. A major economic engine, UArizona Health Sciences employs nearly 5,000 people, has approximately 4,000 students and 900 faculty members, and garners more than $220 million in research grants and contracts annually.  In 2021, the University of Arizona’s research and development expenditures ranked in the top 4% of all U.S. universities. The latest GVN Center is led by Janko Nikolich-Žugich, MD, PhD, Director, Aegis Consortium, College of Medicine – Tucson, Department Head and Professor, Immunobiology, and Co-Director, Arizona Center on Aging.

“We look forward to fostering deep relationships and interactions with other GVN members and remaining highly participative and engaged with GVN’s many pursuits to help mitigate and manage pandemics,” said, Dr. Nikolich-Žugich“Aegis is very much aligned with GVN, and we intend to openly share and collaborate among our many shared research interests.”

The Aegis Consortium’s strength in developing strategies is defined by three pillars including: Pandemic Control, Prediction and Preparedness; Post-Acute effects of Pandemics on Individuals and Societies; and Resilience of Built and Natural Environments in Pandemic Control.  As a major university and research institution, Aegis comprises the full complement of biomedical science disciplines as well as internationally recognized researchers, many of whom have developed “industry firsts” relative to pandemic surveillance, clinical investigations and COVID-19 mitigation strategies. Aegis is one of 15 designated centers in the U.S. to study the ongoing effects of Long COVID through the RECOVER study, funded by National Health Lung and Blood Institute on a multi-year basis.

“The GVN looks forward to collaborating with the Aegis Consortium to improve the global understanding of COVID-19 and develop strategies to improve the health of communities impacted by pandemics,” 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 Director of the GVN.

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 69 Centers of Excellence and 11 Affiliates in 37 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]

GVN Adds the Centre Scientifique de Monaco as Newest Member to Combat Viral Threats

Baltimore, Maryland, USA, March 22, 2022: The Global Virus Network (GVN), representing 69 Centers of Excellence and 11 Affiliates in 37 countries comprising foremost experts in every class of virus causing disease in humans, and the Centre Scientifique de Monaco (CSM) announced CSM as GVN’s newest Affiliate.

“Just last year, we co-hosted a significant international meeting with Monaco to help curb the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in developing nations, and focus on establishing innovative platforms for the diagnostics of key human pathogens and drive innovative public health strategies to monitor the efficacy of vaccines against COVID19,” said Christian Bréchot, MD, PhD, President of the GVN, Associate Vice President for International Partnerships and Innovation at University of South Florida (USF), 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.  “I look forward to working with the Centre Scientifique de Monaco and its partners in the Principality of Monaco to build global collaboration efforts to identify cutting-edge technologies, integrate the impact of environmental changes on biodiversity and nutrition and prepare for future pandemics.”

The CSM is historically involved in marine and polar biology research and has included human research over the last decade with several publications in the most prestigious journals such as the Nature series. In 2013, according to the will of Prince Albert II, CSM created The Department of Medical Biology to advance fundamental research programs such as the mechanisms of innate immunity involved in the defense against infections affecting invertebrates and humans, cell metabolism and abnormal proliferation of tumor cells.  The Department also develops translation studies designed to transmit laboratory data as quickly as possible for the benefit of patients suffering from cancer or muscular pathologies.  The team is dedicated to the management and financing of clinical research programs that contribute to the edifice of precision medicine, through the development of new therapeutic approaches with optimal efficacy.

The latest GVN Affiliate is led by Thomas Althaus, MD, MSc, DPhil, an infectious disease doctor specialized in public health and epidemiology, with an extensive experience of diagnostics in the context of developing nations.

“CSM looks forward to the exchange and synergy of scientific research projects with teams from the GVN,” said Dr. Althaus.  “While Monaco has its own national agenda, we aim to meet worldwide challenges like the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. We see terrific potential for collaborations with GVN to improve diagnosis, treatment, prevention and surveillance of public health global threats.”

“We are pleased to add CSM to our growing international network as Monaco will be an important contributor to our European region, and overall network,” 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.

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 69 Centers of Excellence and 11 Affiliates in 37 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]

Six Internationally Renowned Virus Research Institutions Join the Global Virus Network to Combat Viral Diseases

GVN Adds Four Centers of Excellence and Two Affiliates from India, Peru, Republic of Uzbekistan, South Korea, United States and Zimbabwe

Baltimore, Maryland, USA, October 24, 2019: The Global Virus Network (GVN), representing 52 Centers of Excellence and 9 Affiliates in 32 countries comprising foremost experts in every class of virus causing disease in humans and animals, announced today the addition of four new Centers of Excellence including, Manipal Academy of Higher Education (An Institution of eminence deemed to be University), The Tropical Medicine Institute “Alexander von Humboldt” of the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, the Korea National Institute of Health’s Center for Infectious Diseases Research, the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University, and two Affiliates, the Research Institute of Virology Ministry of Health of the Republic of Uzbekistan and the Antiviral Pharmacology Laboratory and Clinical Trials Research Center Virology Program at the University of Zimbabwe. The announcement was made by Christian Bréchot, MD, PhD, President of the GVN and Robert Gallo, MD, Co-Founder and Chairman of the International Scientific Leadership Board of the GVN.

“The GVN continues to serve as a catalyst uniquely connecting top virus research institutions from around the world to build collaborative, effective alliances and eradicate viral threats. In fact, these six Centers and Affiliates perfectly illustrate this concept, combining Centers with highly complementary skills, from all over the world,” said Bréchot, who is also Professor at the University of South Florida. “We support current organizations such as the World Health Organization and stand ready to serve as global first-responders to dangerous viruses and operate as an international clearinghouse to educate, inform and disseminate critical information to governments, health organizations, healthcare practitioners and the public-at-large.”

“Since HIV/AIDS first appeared, I strongly have believed mankind will best be served if the world’s leading virologists are organized and better equipped to deal with existing and new viral threats,” said Gallo, who is also The Homer & Martha Gudelsky Distinguished Professor in Medicine and Director, Institute of Human Virology (IHV) at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, a GVN Center of Excellence. “These diverse new members of the GVN add depth of expertise and global reach to our network. They will help us better combat viral threats and train the next generation of virologists.”

The Manipal Institute of Virology (MIV) GVN Center of Excellence is led by Arunkumar Govindakarnavar, PhD, MSc, BSc, Professor and Director, MIV, Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE). MIV is a regional center for diagnostic virology and research, and the regional reference laboratory for Influenza viruses and an Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Grade I Virus Research and Diagnostic Laboratory (VRDL) supported by the Department of Health Research (DHR), National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP) Apex referral laboratory for arboviruses, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW) and Government of India (GOI). Apart from disease diagnostics, MIV supports the state and national health services for outbreak investigations. MIV has established 33 surveillance centers in hospitals across 16 districts of 10 states capable of detecting and responding to viruses and bacteria.

“MIV was instrumental in confirming more than 150 viral outbreaks, and closely involved in outbreaks including the Nipah virus, Zika virus, Acute Encephalitis Syndrome, Hepatitis A virus and Kyasanur Forest Disease,” said Arunkumar. “We look forward to sharing our experiences with the GVN and launching new collaborations to advance the field in our area of expertise in virology.”

The Tropical Medicine Institute “Alexander von Humboldt” of the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia GVN Center of Excellence is led by Eduardo Gotuzzo, MD, FACP, FIDSA, FESCMID, Emeritus Professor, Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia. The Institute is multidisciplinary, specializing in infectious and tropical diseases, with global leadership that conducts research, innovates and diversifies, and promotes public policies and technology transfer contributing to Peru’s development. The Institute specializes in HTLV and its clinical complications, HIV/AIDS and antiretroviral drug therapy, human rhinovirus, hepatitis B and some C viruses, and arboviruses such as Zika virus.

“We have a large HTLV patient cohort and are the country’s most experienced in treating patients with HIV/AIDS, which unfortunately continues to grow due to the significant migration of people from Venezuela,” said Gotuzzo. “The GVN will provide a unique opportunity to advance our studies and international collaborations as well as unique training opportunities.”

The Korea National Institute of Health’s Center for Infectious Diseases Research GVN Center of Excellence is led by Youngmee Jee MD, PhD, Director, Center for Infectious Diseases Research (CID), Korea National Institute of Health (KNIH). KNIH is the only national public health research institution to produce scientific evidence to shape public health policies. The CID, one of three research centers at KNIH, is responsible for research on infectious diseases caused by viral and bacterial pathogens with four primary goals: (1) to enhance the national capacity responding to infectious disease threats, (2) to efficiently control emerging and acute/chronic infectious diseases, (3) to explore infectious diseases affecting human health in relation to climate change, (4) to establish national and international networks through collaborative studies on infectious diseases, and (5) to collect and manage human pathogen resources in Korea.

“I participated in the GVN’s international meeting last June in Barcelona and found the sessions and shared expertise very valuable,” said Jee. “Our broad experience with various global research intuitions such as the World Health Organization and fellow Korean GVN Center of Excellence, the International Vaccine Institute, will deepen GVN’s expertise and advance basic and applied research on emerging viruses and acute and chronic viruses through new collaborations with GVN members.”

The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University GVN Center of Excellence is led by Founding Director Donald Ingber, MD, PhD, who is also the Judah Folkman Professor of Vascular Biology at Harvard Medical School, Senior Associate in the Vascular Biology Program at Boston Children’s Hospital and Professor of Bioengineering at Harvard’s John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. The Wyss Institute leverages recent insights into how nature builds, controls and manufactures to develop new engineering innovations – a new field of research the Institute refers to as Biologically Inspired Engineering. By emulating biological principles of self-assembly, organization and regulation, the Institute is developing disruptive technology solutions for healthcare, energy, architecture, robotics and manufacturing, which are translated into commercial products and therapies through the formation of new startups and corporate alliances. The Institute’s unique Organ-on-a-Chip (Organ Chip) technology enables modeling of human tissues with in vivo-like architectures and physiologies to study viral infection, propagation, evolution, patient-to-patient transmission and host responses in vitro. Wyss Institute researchers are leveraging human Organ Chips and a variety of its other core technologies in a highly multi-disciplinary approach to create rapid, sensitive, and highly specific diagnostics for detection of viruses, broad spectrum anti-virus vaccines, new antiviral therapeutics, novel drug- and gene-delivering viral vectors, and, culture-free viral infectivity assays.

“We offer the GVN a truly unique skill set in bioengineering and technology innovation that will nicely complement the more classic virology focus of most other members of the network, as well as numerous powerful enabling technologies that GVN members should find extremely useful,” said Ingber. “We look forward to the GVN helping us to identify relevant funding opportunities and sources of clinical samples, and to team with us to build stronger consortia around specific problems, and if possible, to provide support for fellows and trainees.”

The Research Institute of Virology Ministry of Health of the Republic of Uzbekistan, which is led by Musabaev Erkin Isakovich, PhD, Professor, Research Institute of Virology of the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Uzbekistan, is an Affiliate through GVN Centers of Excellence, Istituto Nazionale Tumori “Fondazione Pascale” National Cancer Institute, Russian Smorodintsev Research Institute of Influenza (SRII) and Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. The Institute comprises a laboratory of new and re-emerging viral infections (in the structure of National Influenza Center), a reference laboratory, scientific departments, department of molecular-genetic analysis and cultural research, an international department, in-patient department (hospital), including 200 beds to treat infectious disease patients, laboratory-diagnostic and auxiliary departments and rooms and an ambulatory-out-patient diagnostical hepatology center. The Institute’s expertise includes viral hepatitis, liver cirrhosis with viral etiology, HIV/AIDS, new and re-emerging infections, influenza, and intestinal infections.

“We are pleased to join with three renowned GVN Centers of Excellence to become an Affiliate member of the GVN,” said Isakovich. “The GVN will provide opportunities in information sharing and collaborations on research, grants, projects and training initiatives, particularly in the area of scientific exchanges between fellows.”

The Antiviral Pharmacology Laboratory and Clinical Trials Research Center Virology Program at the University of Zimbabwe (UZ), which is led by Charles Chiedza Maponga, PharmD, MHPE, Director, GVN Affiliate at UZ and Justen Manasa, PhD, Co-Director, Virology, Genetics, is an Affiliate through GVN Center of Excellence, University at Buffalo HIV and HCV Clinical Pharmacology Laboratory. UZ is home to a National Institutes of Health (NIH) AIDS Clinical Trials Unit that conducts research with National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) HIV Research networks including the AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG), International Maternal Pediatric and Adolescent AIDS Clinical Trials (IMPAACT) and Microbial Trials Network (MTN). In addition, UZ has a NIAID HIV Clinical Pharmacology Specialty Laboratory. Research priorities include HIV, HCV, HPV and other global virus research agendas. The Antiviral Pharmacology Laboratory is home to a Fogarty-supported HIV Clinical Pharmacology Research Program that is conducted in collaboration with the University at Buffalo. As the HIV/AIDS epidemic has continued to impact developing countries, the need for training in HIV/AIDS Clinical Pharmacology has also expanded in scope, including in clinical expertise such as cancer, behavioral sciences, Alzheimer’s disease, nanomedicine and pediatrics.

“We have a productive collaboration with the GVN Center of Excellence University of Buffalo HIV and HCV Clinical Pharmacology Laboratory and are thrilled to grow our relationship into the GVN as an Affiliate,” said Maponga and Manasa. “Not only do we have a regional capacity to substantively contribute to global research through the GVN, but we welcome training exchange programs that expand our breadth of expertise.”

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 52 Centers of Excellence and 9 Affiliates in 32 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

The Global Virus Network (GVN) Launches Anticipation & Preparedness Taskforce Following 10th International Meeting in Annecy, France

The GVN Undertakes Worldwide Initiative to Support Public Health Authorities 

Baltimore, Maryland, USA, March 27, 2019: The Global Virus Network (GVN), a worldwide coalition of preeminent virologists engaged in the preparedness, defense and first research response to emerging, exiting and unidentified viruses that pose a clear and present threat to public health, has launched the Anticipation & Preparedness Taskforce (A&P Taskforce).  The A&P Taskforce is led by Dr. Christian Bréchot, President of the GVN, and Co-Chaired by Elodie Ghedin, PhD, Director of the Center for Genomics and Systems Biology, and Professor of Biology and Global Public Health at New York University, and Giuseppe Ippolito, MD, the Scientific Director of the National Institute for Infectious Diseases (INMI) “Lazzaro Spallanzani” in Rome and Director of the World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Center for clinical care, diagnosis, response and training on Highly Infectious Diseases at INMI.

The Taskforce is comprised of more than a dozen experts from GVN Centers of Excellence and Affiliates and its mission is to develop and employ innovative and pioneering approaches to identify and elucidate the impact and magnitude of future viral epidemics by coalescing mathematic modelling with epidemiology, genomics, medicine and public health.  The Taskforce will work closely with public health authorities, existing networks and institutions as well as disseminate vital clinical and scientific information on best practices for the diagnosis and management virus related pathogens.

Said Dr. Bréchot, “The identification of emerging, re-emerging and unknown infectious diseases and surveillance of viral pathogens humans and wildlife is critical for early prediction of future disease outbreaks and epidemics.  This must be based on science and the best of research activities on these topics. Analyzing these viral pathogens as well as the host response to these pathogens will enable us to build models for rapid diagnostics and thus early identification as well as prompt clinical management of suspected cases. The Taskforce will also facilitate and expedite the development of critical epidemiological protocols and guidelines for the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of emerging, re-emerging and unknown viruses, as well as training healthcare professionals in all geographical areas to deal with infectious diseases caused by such viruses; being science-driven it will work in close interaction with the other organizations at stake on this major issue”.

A recent article published by the BBC titled, “The Mystery Viruses Far Worse Than the Flu” (Gorvett, 2018), emphasized the critical and timely need to anticipate and prepare for the next human pandemic; and this is one of the primary mandates for the formation and implementation of the Anticipation & Preparedness Taskforce. In addition, the A&P Taskforce will develop standardized practices and protocols for global biodefense and biosecurity.  Of all the challenges that pose a clear and present threat to public health, biosecurity poses one of the greatest global risks.  The GVN is the only single institution in the world that has specialist expertise in all emerging, re-emerging and unknown viruses, and the GVN is now a member of the WHO Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network.  Furthermore, following a recent meeting between Dr. Bréchot and representatives from the WHO in Geneva, the GVN will closely interact with the WHO on the development, standardization and implementation of biosecurity standards and practices. 

The Taskforce’s biodefense and biosecurity initiative will be led by James LeDuc, PhD, the director of the Galveston National Laboratory and a professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.  Said Dr. LeDuc in his recent article, “Network for Safe and Secure Labs” (LeDuc, 2018), published in Science, “dangerous diseases exist in many corners of the world and that they can cause substantial human suffering and financial devastation locally and internationally. In response, institutions and nations are constructing maximum biocontainment laboratories (MCLs) to address these threats. MCLs operate at the highest level of biological containment to diagnose, perform research on and validate cures for life-threatening diseases like Ebola.  The global proliferation of these facilities raises questions about how to ensure safe and secure operations while enhancing their contributions to science and global health. One solution is to establish an MCL network that enables the sharing of best practices, collaboration, transparency and exchange of specimens and technology.” The A&P Taskforce, as well as eight new Virus Watch Groups, were adopted by the Leadership Committee of the GVN at the organization’s tenth international meeting in Annecy, France in the Fall of last year.  The objective of the Virus Watch Groups is to establish regular communication and collaboration between the GVN’s experts, further highlighting the GVN as the go-to organization for virus science expertise in the event of an emerging epidemic.  The Virus Watch Groups will enable rapid responses to threats in the following categories: Arboviruses; Gastrointestinal; Hemorrhagic Fever; Herpes; Oncogenic; Respiratory; Retroviruses; and Zoonotic. During the course of the meeting, which was hosted by the Mérieux Foundation and University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, attendees discussed the challenges posed by emerging and reemerging viruses, in the context of political instability and burgeoning refugees, deforestation and urban expansion, inadequate and incomplete vaccination and the lack of consistent and standardized biosafety measures, among other critical factors.

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 45 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