GVN Symposium on the Global Spread of Chikungunya

GVN Symposium on the Global Spread of Chikungunya

On November 5, GVN and its partner, ASTMH, convened a special symposium on “The Global Spread of Chikungunya: Epidemiology, Evolution, Pathogenesis and Global Needs” at the annual ASTMH meeting in New Orleans.  All three of GVN’s Task Force Chairs on Chikungunya spoke at the session, which was organized by Dr. Scott Weaver of UTMB, one of the co-chairs.  Other co-chairs are Dr. Marc Lecuit, Pasteur Institute, France, and Dr. John Fazakerley, Pirbright Institute, UK.  Click here for the full agenda.

MEDIA ADVISORY

Who: The Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation (WINDREF) and St. George’s University (SGU) in partnership with the Global Virus Network (GVN)

  • Dr. Robert Gallo, Director, Institute of Human Virology, University of Maryland School of Medicine and Co-Founder and Scientific Director, GVN
  • Dr. Anders Vahlne, Professor of Clinical Virology at the Department of Laboratory Medicine, Karolinska Institute, and Center Director of the Swedish-Estonia GVN Center of Excellence
  • The Rt. Hon C. Modeste-Curwen, Minister of Health, Grenada
  • Calum N.L. Macpherson, Vice President and Founding Director, WINDREF
  • Dr.  Charles R. Modica, Chancellor, SGU

What: Virology Workshop for U.S. and Caribbean Journalists

When: 7:30 am, Thursday January 30, 2014 – 12:00 pm, Saturday February 1, 2014

Where: St. George’s University (SGU)

Contact: For more info, please contact Nora Grannell at [email protected] or 1 410-706-1966

Conference Overview:

The Viral Workshop for Journalists will provide reporters from varying U.S. and Caribbean media outlets an opportunity to learn firsthand about the nature of viruses, their spread, and virus treatments and vaccinations.  The workshop aims to take what can be a complex subject – the science and epidemiology of viruses – and break it down to a comprehensible level that can be utilized when reporters need to communicate to the masses about important news relating to viruses.  The workshop will feature expert virologists from around the world, including world renowned virologist Dr. Robert Gallo, most widely known for his co-discovery of HIV and his development of the blood test.  Dr. Gallo also discovered the first known human retroviruses (HTLV-1 and HTLV-2) which are endemic to regions in the Caribbean including Grenada.  Local officials including the Rt. Hon C. Modeste-Curwin, Minister of Health will open the meeting, and SGU students will engage with reporters in the laboratory, among other activities.

Other leading participants include Dr. Anders Vahlne, Professor of Clinical Virology in the Department of Laboratory Medicine, Karolinska Institute, and Center Director of the Swedish-Estonian GVN Center of Excellence; Dr. Calum MacPherson, Vice Provost at St. George’s University and Vice President of WINDREF; Dr. Donald Jungkind, Professor of Microbiology at St. George’s University Medical School; and Dr. Charles Modica, Chairman of the Board of Trustees and Chancellor of St. George’s University.

Prominent Virologist Stanley Plotkin Joins GVN as Senior Advisor

Baltimore, MD: January 14, 2014 ;The Global Virus Network (GVN) is honored to have Dr. Stanley A. Plotkin, Emeritus Professor of the University of Pennsylvania and consultant to all of the major vaccine manufacturers, serve as a senior advisor. Dr. Plotkin is world renowned for his development of the rubella vaccine- now in standard use throughout the world, and has worked extensively on the development and application of other vaccines including polio, rabies, varicella, rotavirus and cytomegalovirus.

 
“I am happy to join such a distinguished group of virologists,” said Dr. Plotkin.
 
“Stan is one of the most experienced and wisest of virologists who will be invaluable to the GVN objectives,” said GVN co-founder and scientific director Dr. Robert Gallo.
 
“Stan’s encyclopedic knowledge of viruses and their modes of transmission will be of enormous help in guiding the Scientific Leadership Board of GVN when decisions have to be made to limit the expansion of existing epidemics or curb the outbreak of newly emerging viruses,” said fellow GVN co-founder, Dr. Reinhard Kurth, Chairman of the Foundation Council, Ernst Schering Foundation in Berlin, Germany.
 

Chikunguya virus (CHIKV) outbreak in St. Martin

Chikunguya virus (CHIKV) outbreak in St. Martin

December 20, 2013, Baltimore, MD: St. Martin, in the Caribbean, is the first country in the Western Hemisphere to experience a Chikunguya virus (CHIKV) outbreak. Global Virus Network (GVN) member of the Sweden-Estonia GVN Center of Excellence and CHIKV specialist, Andres Merits, PhD says once we know the genotype, we will have a better estimate of the potential of the virus to spread.  Dr. Merits, Professor of Applied Virology, Institute of Technology, University of Tartu, Estonia, also noted, “Clinicians in the region of the Caribbean must be on high alert as CHIKV is often mistaken for Dengue fever or even malaria.  Once we know the genotype, we will know more about the efficiency of mosquito transmission, and public health officials can begin to take prevention measures to contain the outbreak.”  Such measures include aggressive mosquito control techniques, whereas travel restrictions are more likely to be relatively inefficient.  Dr. Merits said, “I am reasonably optimistic this outbreak will not be widespread.  However, this new outbreak is a stark reminder of why medical virologists worldwide must be prepared to share information and expertise quickly, and with the goal of safeguarding the health of people everywhere.  We do not yet have drug therapies for CHIKV, let alone a vaccine, but scientists are close and can develop these cures if governments and the public and private sector support them.”

Distinguished Attorney Timothy C. Moynahan Named Chairman of the Global Virus Network (Gvn) Board of Directors

DISTINGUISHED ATTORNEY TIMOTHY C. MOYNAHAN NAMED CHAIRMAN OF THE GLOBAL VIRUS NETWORK (GVN) BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Will Forge Partnerships With Multinational Corporations & Private Benefactors To Mitigate The Threat & Financial Impact Of Pandemic Viral Diseases

Baltimore, MD (December 17, 2013) – The Global Virus Network (GVN), a coalition of the world’s foremost medical virology research centers working to prevent illness and death from pandemic viruses, today announced that Timothy C. Moynahan, Esq., has been elected as the 2014 Chairman of the Board of Directors.  The announcement was made by Robert C. Gallo, MD, co-founder of the GVN, Chair of GVN’s Scientific Leadership Board, and Director of the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, USA.  Dr. Gallo was joined in this announcement by GVN co-founders Reinhard Kurth, MD, Chairman of the Foundation Council, Ernst Schering Foundation in Berlin, Germany and William Hall, MD, PhD, Vice Chair of the GVN Board of Directors, and Director of the Centre for Research in Infectious Diseases the University College Dublin in Ireland.  Mr. Moynahan takes on the Chairman’s role from immediate past Chairman G. Steven Burrill, CEO of Burrill & Company.

“Mr. Moynahan brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise on international business and public-private sector partnerships to the GVN,” said Dr. Gallo, most notably known for his co-discovery of HIV and development of the blood test. “We are confident that Mr. Moynahan will lead the Board with vision  and passion for GVN’s critical mission of safeguarding life from potentially pandemic viral disease,” he added.   Mr. Moynahan served as the first Chairman of the GVN Board of Directors at the time of the GVN’s establishment in 2011.  “Tim’s insights into GVN as a founding Board member and as its inaugural Chairman position him perfectly to lead us successfully into the future,” continued Dr. Gallo.

One of Mr. Moynahan’s primary objectives is to develop partnerships with relevant multinational corporations and private benefactors in order to provide the substantial funding required to address the serious threat and exorbitant financial impact posed by potentially pandemic viral disease threatening public health.  “I am honored to serve as GVN’s Chairman once again and work alongside my dedicated and distinguished colleagues,” said Mr. Moynahan.  “Viruses continue to take tragic tolls on humanity in many ways, with millions of lives lost each year and staggering costs to the global economy.  The current flu season is a stark reminder:  According to the World Health Organization, seasonal flu in the United States alone results in 40,000 deaths and $87.1 billion in economic losses, both directly in terms of health care, and indirectly through work days lost and other factors.   One of my most important mandates is to raise awareness of the staggering impact of viruses on lives, commerce and businesses,” he added.

Mr. Moynahan, a preeminent litigation attorney, is the founder of The Moynahan Law Firm, one of Connecticut’s most respected law firms.   In addition to his role as Chairman of the Board of the Global Virus Network, Mr. Moynahan has been elected to the board of directors of numerous corporations and charitable organizations, including the Post University MBA Advisory Council, the Advisory Board of the Institute of Human Virology, the International Network for Cancer Treatment and Research (INCTR) and President of the Connecticut Chapter of the Ireland Chamber of Commerce in the United States.

Global Virus Network and Institute of Human Virology Awarded $100K from the Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation

Global Virus Network and Institute of Human Virology Awarded $100K from the Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation

BALTIMORE–(BUSINESS WIRE)– The Global Virus Network (GVN), representing more than 20 countries and comprising foremost experts in every class of virus causing disease in humans, and the Institute of Human Virology (IHV) at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and announced a new collaboration with the Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation (WINDREF), Grenada, West Indies, and a donation of $100,000 to support the collaboration. The collaboration was announced in September during IHV’s annual meeting held in Moscow, Russia.

“This is a perfect example of a partnership that will benefit all parties, as WINDREF will benefit from IHV’s deep expertise in viruses such as HIV and HTLV – which directly affect Grenada, and from GVN’s global reach to expertise in these and all other viruses,” said Dr. Robert Gallo, Co-founder and Scientific Director of GVN and Director of IHV. “At the same time, GVN and IHV will benefit from WINDREF’s provision of unique research opportunities and St. George’s University’s worldwide base of alumni physicians and researchers.” Calum MacPherson, PhD, Director of WINDREF, said “We are excited by the partnership as partnerships in research and educational are essential when pursuing excellence in these areas.”

The purpose of the collaboration is to support a range of activities aimed at reducing the burden of disease from viruses facing Caribbean nations. Charles Modica, JD, Chancellor and Co-founder of St. George’s University (SGU) said, “We are excited to join forces with the IHV and GVN to address viruses, such as Human T Cell Leukemia Virus (HTLV) that disproportionately affect populations in the Caribbean.”

Over the next 3 months, GVN, IHV, WINDREF, and SGU will develop an action plan on outreach activities and training opportunities for future medical virologists. The first joint activity includes a workshop for journalists on current viral challenges. “We want to empower people with understanding of viruses so that they can protect themselves and their families from infections. Journalists are key in this initiative,” said GVN’s President. The workshop aims to bring virologists and journalists from the Caribbean region together in an academic setting and will be hosted on the SGU campus. Expected lecturers include GVN members from SGU, IHV and the Karolinska Institute.

About Global Virus Network (GVN)

The Global Virus Network (GVN) is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization, comprised of leading medical virologists from more than 20 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 contact Nora Grannell at [email protected] and visit www.gvn.org. Follow us on Twitter @GlobalVirusNews.

About Institute of Human Virology (IHV) at the University of Maryland School of Medicine

Formed by co-founders Dr. Robert Gallo, Dr. William Blattner and Dr. Robert Redfield in 1996 as a partnership between the State of Maryland, the City of Baltimore, the University System of Maryland and the University of Maryland Medical System, IHV is an institute of the University of Maryland School of Medicine and is home to some of the most globally-recognized and world-renowned experts in all of virology. The IHV is the first center in the United States to combine the disciplines of basic research, epidemiology and clinical research in a concerted effort to speed the discovery of diagnostics and therapeutics for a wide variety of chronic and deadly viral and immune disorders – most notably the HIV virus that causes AIDS.

About the Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation (WINDREF)

WINDREF is a 501(c)3 organization registered in New York. WINDREF’s Research Institute is located on the SGU True Blue campus in Grenada. WINDREF’s mission is to advance health and environmental development through research and education programs. For more information, please contact Trevor Noel, MPH at [email protected] or visit us at www.sgu.edu.

About SGU

St. George’s University (SGU) is a center of international education, drawing students and faculty from over 140 countries to the island of Grenada, West Indies. SGU is affiliated with educational institutions worldwide. The University has contributed over 13,000 physicians, veterinarians, scientists, and public health and business professionals who are working and studying across the world. The University programs are accredited and approved by many governing authorities. For more information please visit the website www.sgu.edu.

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.

For more information, click here.

 

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 

 

The Global Virus Network Convenes in Munich

Top virologists to discuss emerging viral threats

BALTIMORE–(BUSINESS WIRE)– The Global Virus Network, a coalition of the world’s leading medical virology research centers working to prevent illness and death from viral disease, will hold its spring 2013 meeting in Munich, Germany May 30 to June 1. The closed meeting, hosted by the Institute of Virology at Helmholtz Zentrum München and Technische Universität München, will include one public session as announced today by Dr. Robert C. Gallo, co-founder of the GVN and Chair of GVN’s Scientific Leadership Board. Joining Dr. Gallo in this announcement are fellow GVN co-founders, Dr. Reinhard Kurth of the Ernst Schering Foundation in Germany, Dr. William Hall of University College Dublin in Ireland, and GVN’s President.

“An important lesson learned from my experience with AIDS is the need for a network to engage top medical virologists, with the highest expertise, covering all classes of viruses, from around the world as new and existing issues emerge – so that scientist are held responsible, rather than getting involved by chance,” says Dr. Robert C. Gallo, Director of the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and most widely known for co-discovering HIV and developing the HIV blood test. “In addition to taking stock of new lines of research needed to stop the spread of viral disease, we will be discussing how best to work with corporations, health agencies and other groups to ensure that the policy decisions integrate the best scientific information available. I am particularly looking forward to a unique workshop, sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where we will discuss why some vaccines confer lifelong immunity, while others have short term immunological benefits requiring multiple boosts. This is the final frontier in achieving a successful HIV preventive vaccine. ”

“The Network meetings provide a unique forum for GVN scientists to convene and candidly discuss unpublished data and to forge new collaborations to combat viral disease,” says GVN’s President. “Through these meetings, the coalition becomes stronger and stronger. In Munich, we will also focus significant attention on a critical needs area, including how to inspire a whole new generation of medical virologists.“

The closed meeting of leading international scientists from 19 countries will also include presentations from varying GVN Centers of Excellence from around the globe to help facilitate collaborations among the network’s prominent researchers. Current emerging viral threats such as the new coronavirus originating in the Middle East, emerging bunyaviruses (SFTS) in Asia and the new influenza strain (H7N9) detected in China, will be among the researchers’ top priorities.

“We are delighted to host our colleagues from around the world,” says Professor Ulrike Protzer, head of the hosting network partner, the Institute of Virology at the Helmholtz Zentrum Muenchen and the Technical University Muenchen. “The GVN meeting gives us the opportunity to share new scientific results and to create a better network for international virology research.”

The following prominent GVN Board of Directors members will also be in attendance: The Honorable Kathleen Kennedy Townsend (Chair), Dr. Andrew Cheng, G. Steven Burrill, Mr. Nicolas De Santis, Mr. Mathew Evins, Mr. Tim Moynahan, Dr. Anthony Cernera, Dr. Romain Murenzi, Mr. Sajan Pillai, and Mr. Guenter Lorenz.

Medical virologists and GVN Board of Directors in attendance are available for one-on-one interviews. To view the closed meeting program, please visit here.