Philanthropist Donates US$1 Million to Global Virus Network: Anonymous Gift Will Support Educational & Training Initiatives

Largest Gift In The Organization’s History Coincides With The Tenth Anniversary of the Founding of the Global Virus Network

Baltimore, Maryland, USA, March 2, 2021: 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 announced the donation of US$1 million to support GVN’s Academy, an initiative that fosters global collaborations by providing training and mentoring programs for rising junior virologists.  With the new funds, GVN launches the GVN Postdoctoral Fellowship Program and the GVN Rising Star Program.  The charitable contribution is especially meaningful as the GVN marks ten years since top virologists from more than a dozen countries ratified their participation in, and support of, the then newly created GVN at the inaugural meeting held March 1-3, 2011 at the Embassy of Italy in Washington, D.C.

“We are extremely grateful for the philanthropist’s generous donation to advance GVN’s mission, particularly in helping to prepare mankind for future viral threats through international, post-doctoral fellowship programs and education initiatives,” said Dr. Christian Bréchot, 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.  “The donation is especially meaningful as GVN marks ten years since its inception.  As GVN’s founders noted from the beginning, gaining experience through academia will help translate the next-generation virologists’ concepts into practical solutions to meet the global, public-health needs of the future.”

During the inaugural meeting ten years ago, GVN members identified a global shortage of rising virologists in basic, clinical and translational research, particularly in low income countries.   Since then, GVN senior virologists have committed to sharing their invaluable expertise with junior virologists through mentorship and intensive training at the GVN to better prepare the next generation against global viral threats.

“As if it wasn’t already clear enough when we first created the GVN, this current pandemic again highlights the importance of funding science and the next generation of virologists in an effort to stay ahead of deadly viral pandemics,”  said Dr. Robert Gallo, 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.  “Scientific research challenges such as the evolving nature of SARS-CoV-2 and developing an effective preventive HIV vaccine candidate abound.  It is incumbent upon my colleagues and me to cultivate an environment to advance and train burgeoning researchers, and to prepare them to take collective responsibility for current and future viral threats.  We are most grateful to our donor for giving us a significant opportunity to do just this.”

The GVN Postdoctoral Fellowship Training Program will train two postdoctoral researchers during a two-year term with the option to rotate among two GVN Centers of Excellence.  Participants of the program will engage in GVN annual and regional meetings during their two-year term, exposing them to top virology experts and cutting-edge research initiatives.  Fellows may also collaborate with GVN’s growing list of industry partners.

The GVN Rising Star Program will mentor 15 bright, junior scientists over the course of two years and match each mentee with a GVN senior virologist to provide one-on-one research and career guidance.  Participants of the program will also engage in the elite GVN annual and regional meetings.

“Like all of my colleagues at the GVN, mentors have helped shape my career,” said Dr. Sharon Lewin, Director of The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity and Director of Doherty’s GVN Center of Excellence.  “I am pleased to support these terrific GVN mentorship programs and look forward to fostering an environment of support and opportunity to guide and inspire career paths of early investigators.  I would also like to congratulate the GVN on ten years of making a real global impact, including building collaborative research alliances, advancing the field of virology and educating governments, public health organizations and the public at large on current and future viral threats.”

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 61 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 Contacts:
GVN
Nora Samaranayake
410-706-1966
[email protected]

Global Virus Network Names USF Health the GVN Southeast U.S. Regional Headquarters

Baltimore, Maryland, USA (Feb. 23, 2021) — The Global Virus Network (GVN), a coalition comprising the world’s foremost experts in every class of virus causing disease in humans and some animals, today announced that USF Health, at the University of South Florida (USF) in Tampa, Fla., will serve as GVN’s Southeast United States Regional Headquarters.

USF Health is the first regional headquarters named by GVN to provide organizational and leadership support to GVN’s Global Headquarters in Baltimore, Md. In that capacity, USF Health will help strengthen GVN’s initial research response to emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases, such as COVID-19, and its collaborative efforts to plan for, and defend against, future epidemics and pandemics.

GVN encompasses virologists from 61 centers of excellence and 11 affiliates in 34 nations – all working to prevent illness and death from viral diseases posing threats to humanity. Bridging academia, government and industry, the coalition is internationally recognized as an authority and resource for identifying, investigating, interpreting, explaining, controlling, and suppressing viral diseases.

“USF Health is delighted to be a leading contributor to GVN’s administration, and to support and promote GVN’s virology research and public health policies. With our growing strength in infectious diseases at USF Health, the university is also well positioned to help GVN train and mentor the future leaders who can find new solutions to protect us against contagious diseases,” said Dr. Christian Bréchot, president of the GVN; associate vice president for International Partnerships and Innovation at 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 based at USF Health will encompass the four health sciences colleges of the university: the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine, the College of Nursing, the College of Public Health, and the USF Health Taneja College of Pharmacy. USF Health is an integral part of USF, a high-impact global research university dedicated to student success. Over the past 10 years, no other public university in the country has risen faster in U.S. News and World Report’s national university rankings than USF.

“USF Health has already been supporting GVN’s administrative efforts, and we are pleased to officially recognize their past efforts and ongoing efforts to advance the GVN by naming USF Health as the GVN Southeast U.S. Regional Headquarters,” said  Dr. Robert Gallo, GVN co-founder and international scientific advisor, who is also 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.

In addition to their leadership roles at GVN Global Headquarters in Baltimore, Md., Dr. Bréchot and GVN Vice President Linman Li of the USF Health Division of Infectious Disease and International Medicine will lead the new GVN Southeast U.S. Regional Headquarters and focus on regional efforts to expand government and other research funding, as well as research and training initiatives. The regional headquarters designation will enable USF Health scientists to partner with GVN experts worldwide to share ideas and research, to translate research into practical applications, to improve diagnostics and therapies, and to develop vaccines.

“We look forward to partnering with the Global Virus Network to advance the coalition’s leading work in viral research and evidence-based responses to epidemics and pandemics,” said Charles J. Lockwood, MD, senior vice president for USF Health and dean of the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine. “The appearance of COVID-19 has transformed society almost beyond recognition, with lasting implications for health care, the economy and our social and psychological well-being. Together we can, and we must, be better prepared to meet the challenges of the next emerging virus.”

When new outbreaks arise, such as what happened with SARS-CoV-2, GVN experts stand ready to provide critical insights needed for infectious disease containment and prevention. The new partnership will help increase the authority, leadership, and visibility of USF Health and GVN in virology at the regional, national, and international levels.

GVN members collaborate on science-driven, independent research in many areas, 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. They also train the next generation of virologists to combat the epidemics of the future.

 

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 comprising eminent human and animal virologists from 61 Centers of Excellence and 11 Affiliates in 34 countries worldwide, working collaboratively to train the next generation of virologists, 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

About USF Health
USF Health’s mission is to envision and implement the future of health. It is the partnership of the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine, the College of Nursing, the College of Public Health, the Taneja College of Pharmacy, the School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences, the Biomedical Sciences Graduate and Postdoctoral Programs, and USF Health’s multispecialty physicians group. The University of South Florida is a high-impact global research university dedicated to student success. Over the past 10 years, no other public university in the country has risen faster in U.S. News and World Report’s national university rankings than USF. For more information, visit health.usf.edu

GVN media contact:
Nora Samaranayake
Phone: 410-706-1966; Email: [email protected]

USF Health media contact:
Sarah Worth
Phone: 813-928-0861; Email: [email protected]

GLOBAL VIRUS NETWORK (GVN) ADDS FOUR PREEMINENT ACADEMIC INSTITUTIONS TO STRENGTHEN GLOBAL COLLABORATION IN VIRAL RESEARCH AND RESPONSE TO PANDEMICS

The Four New GVN Members Form Three New Centers of Excellence and One Affiliate from Asia, the Caribbean, Europe and North America

Baltimore, Maryland, USA, January 28, 2021: The Global Virus Network (GVN), comprising foremost experts around the world in every class of virus causing disease in humans and some animals, today announced the addition of three new Centers of Excellence including the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), part of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Radboud University Medical Center in the Netherlands and the Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health in the United States of America (USA), and one Affiliate,  the University of the West Indies at St. Augustine in Trinidad and Tobago through GVN’s Center of Excellence in HIV and HCV Clinical Pharmacology Laboratory in the Center for Integrated Global Biomedical Sciences, at the University at Buffalo, The State University of New York (SUNY), USA. The latest additions bolster GVN to 61 Centers of Excellence, with 11 Affiliates in 34 nations.  The GVN is a global authority and resource for the identification and investigation, interpretation and explanation, control and suppression, of viral diseases posing threats to mankind.

“We look forward to working with each of these esteemed new members to combat the current pandemic emergency and plan for, and mitigate, future outbreaks,” said Dr. Christian Bréchot, President of the GVN and Associate Vice President for International Partnerships and Innovation, Professor, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Internal Medicine at the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine.

”These new Centers and Affiliate offer not just deeper global reach, but encompass some of the world’s most cutting-edge science and thought leadership,” said Dr. Robert Gallo, GVN co-founder and international scientific advisor, who is also 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.

The Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), Chinese Academy of Sciences, offers, among other world-leading expertise, valuable resources in bat viruses and coronaviruses and will be an important Center for studying response to emerging viral diseases.

“I support increasing global collaborations and transparency in science, particularly related to this current pandemic crisis,” said Dr. Zhengli Shi, Professor at WIV and director of GVN’s new Center in China.  “In addition to sharing our coronavirus research and any new breakthroughs with my fellow colleagues at the GVN, I am also looking forward to sharing my experience in Africa, particularly the National Museums of Kenya and the Kenya Wildlife Service, regarding our surveillance studies in bats, rodents and camels in East Africa.”

Radboud University Medical Center in the Netherlands is renowned for conducting research in innate immunity, non-specific vaccines, targeting leukocytes, and metabolic differentiation, especially against coronaviruses.

“I am looking forward to increasing my collaborations with the GVN,” said Dr. Mihai Netea, a GVN Task Force member who will direct the new Center, and who also heads the division of Experimental Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, Radboud University Medical Center in the Netherlands. “I am pleased that our research in understanding the factors influencing variability of human immune responses, the biology of sepsis and immunoparalysis in bacterial and fungal infections, and the study of the memory traits of innate immunity is already helping to shape GVN’s thought-leadership on utilizing innate immunity to mitigate our current pandemic and future ones.”

The Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health in the USA leads major genomic studies of Lassa virus, Ebola virus, and Zika virus and have carried out extensive work in virology and microbial diagnostics, including contributions to the development of innovative technologies.

“My lab has contributed to a range of fields including human and microbial genomics, information theory, and infectious disease diagnostics and surveillance, while developing new and cutting-edge diagnostic and computational technologies for outbreak prevention and response,” said Dr. Pardis Sabeti, a Professor at the Center for Systems Biology and Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University, the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), who will direct the GVN Center.  “Together with the GVN, we can expand our study of pandemic resilience in the future.”

The University of the West Indies (UWI) St. Augustine in Trinidad and Tobago routinely investigates a variety of important human and animal pathogens vectored by mosquito, tick, culicoides and bats including dengue, Chikungunya, Zika and bat coronaviruses, and will contribute to many of GVN’s initiatives. UWI St. Augustine joins the GVN as an Affiliate through GVN’s Center of Excellence in HIV and HCV Clinical Pharmacology Laboratory, at the University at Buffalo, SUNY, USA.

“We look forward to working with our GVN collaborators, particularly at the University at Buffalo, SUNY to share our expertise in viral epidemiology research, as well as, to participating in broader training programs to enhance our virus research capacity,” said Dr. Christine Carrington, Professor of Molecular Genetics and Virology at UWI St. Augustine and Director of the new GVN Affiliate.

Dr. Gene D. Morse, Distinguished Professor and Director at the Center for Integrated Global Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo, SUNY who leads the GVN Center of Excellence said, “I am pleased to see my colleagues from Trinidad and Tobago come under the GVN umbrella. I look forward to helping them share resources with the GVN, test and develop antiviral therapies and biomarkers, promote translational science and build infrastructure and capacity for global virology research.”

GVN members collaborate on research areas 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. GVN is at the frontline of virology research to share knowledge, collaborate, and train the next generation of virologists as effective tools to combat epidemics of the future.

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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 comprising eminent human and animal virologists from 61 Centers of Excellence and 11 Affiliates in 34 countries worldwide, working collaboratively to train the next generation of virologists, 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

GVN MEDIA CONTACTS:

Chandrani Raysarkar
Phone: 240-535-1574; Email: [email protected]
Nora Samaranayake
Phone: 410-706-1966; Email: [email protected]

A Statement from the Global Virus Network (GVN) on the Need for Innovative Strategies to Mitigate SARS-CoV-2 Variants and Expand Vaccination Strategies

BaltimoreMaryland, USA, January 15, 2021: As hospitalization and mortality from COVID-19 continue to surge around the world, it will be imperative to quickly distribute the vaccines that are proven to at least show short-term protection and overall safety. Combining vaccine distribution to protective measures (mask, physical distancing and hand washing) and novel approaches to treatment, offers, for the first time since the beginning of this pandemic, valid hope in mitigating the virus outbreak and returning the world to normal life. Yet, there are hurdles and challenges to overcome, namely, the emergence of viral variants and the potential shortage of vaccine doses. In this context, experts of the Global Virus Network (GVN) are joining forces and expertise to address these points and offer solutions.

The Mutations

The rapid global spread of SARS-CoV-2 variants that have emerged from the UK and South Africa have brought great concern.  Epidemiological and modeling studies have shown their increased transmissibility, yet, these studies also show that the new variants do not significantly affect disease severity and mortality. These variants contain several mutations. Importantly, the two variants contain the N501Y mutation in the spike protein that can increase binding affinity of the virus to its host receptor, ACE2. Moreover, the variant from South Africa shows the E484K mutation that might, at least theoretically, enable the virus to escape the host’s immune response.

GVN experts are studying how these mutations affect currently available vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics. A recent study showed that the 501Y mutation did not drastically affect the activity of neutralizing antibodies in convalescent serum. The effect of the E484K mutation on immune evasion and reinfection is currently characterized by using convalescent sera. The front-runner vaccine companies, Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, have stated that their vaccines can be effective against these variants. Since the vaccines are designed to elicit robust levels of polyclonal neutralizing antibodies, these minor changes may not greatly reduce protective efficacy of vaccines. However, this needs to be evaluated by using live viruses of variants. Also, a most important question regarding current and future vaccines is their impact on cellular immunity — which should be key for controlling the emergence of such variants. For diagnostics, the mutations in the spike proteins might lead to a failure in RT-PCR assay, and thus, targeting the consensus sequences for primer design would be required.

The Vaccine Strategies

Other than the development of mutations, another challenge relates to the potential shortage of doses in the context of mass vaccination programs to curb the current pandemic. Since last December, several COVID-19 vaccines were granted emergency use authorization by regulators. These vaccines so far require two doses of vaccinations. Limited capacity by vaccine manufacturers are making it difficult to secure sufficient doses of vaccines to rapidly vaccinate as many people as possible and stop viral transmission. To boost their effort, the UK government has altered the vaccination regimen with the second dose of both vaccines being postponed to 12 weeks (as opposed to the recommend 21 and 28 days respectively) after the first dose. Other countries are also considering the same strategy.

GVN’s Collective Expert Opinion and Recommendations

GVN experts emphasize the need to urgently obtain data and evidence-based decisions on the strategy to extend the second dose timing to 12 weeks, or beyond what has already been tested in clinical trials. Indeed, GVN experts have several concerns about protective efficacy, vaccine safety and generation of new variants. Thus, GVN recommends additional and innovative studies to address several other possibilities for overcoming the shortage of vaccines and also to reinforce vaccine efficacy and duration of effect, such as using: (1) half the amount of vaccine for prime and boost vaccinations  (2) heterologous prime and boost immunization by a combination of a COVID-19 vaccine and a non-specific effect of vaccine (i.e., BCG and oral poliovirus vaccine), and (3) heterologous prime and boost immunization by a combination of different COVID-19 vaccines (i.e., use of Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines). GVN suggests launching well-designed clinical studies immediately so that the world can quickly learn which strategy is most effective. Experts in GVN Centers and Affiliates stand ready to collaborate and evaluate these vaccine strategies and extend their collective efforts to generate novel therapeutics.

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 comprising eminent human and animal virologists from 61 Centers of Excellence and 11 Affiliates in 34 countries worldwide, working collaboratively to train the next generation of virologists, 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