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 Follow us on Twitter @GlobalVirusNews.

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Nora Samaranayake
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