Dr. Gallo Letter for Newsletter 2019

Letter from Dr. Robert C. Gallo

As a coalition of expert virologists around the world, the Global Virus Network leverages the strengths and knowledge of our members to accomplish our mission of a world better prepared to control and prevent viral epidemics. Across the globe, we are collaborating on research, sharing information, training the next generation of virologists, and encouraging advocacy among government leaders, the private sector and the scientific community to solve the viral challenges facing the human population.

One of our primary goals is to continue to expand our network of experts around the world. I am happy to say that we are making great strides in this effort.

So far in 2019, the GVN has welcomed a number of new centers and affiliates, including one at the Institute of Advanced Virology (IAV) in Kerala, India and one at the University of West Indies Mona Campus in Kingston, Jamaica. We are also excited to launch centers of excellence and affiliates at the University of California, Berkeley; the University of Wisconsin, Madison; the University of Zimbabwe; as well as at some government agency laboratories, including ones at the FDA and the NIH.

Dr. Christian Brechot, president of the GVN; Dr. William Hall, GVN co-founder, professor at University College Dublin, Ireland and director of the Atlantic Philanthropies; and Dr. Shyam Kottilil, professor of Medicine, director of the Division of Clinical Care and Research IHV attended the launch of the GVN Kerala Affiliate at the IAV in Kerala in February. Also there was Pinarayi Vijayan, Chief Minister of Kerala. I had the pleasure of attending the launch of the Jamaica Affiliate at the UWI Mona in Kingston, also in February, where I spoke about viral epidemics of the past several decades, including HIV/AIDS. while in Jamaica, I met with Dr. Christoper Tufton, the Jamaican Minister of Health and Dale Webber, president of UWI Mona.

The Virology Laboratory at UWI Mona, which is Jamaica’s major virus research center, works closely with the Ministry of Health. The school partnered with Dr. Gene Morse at the State University of New York Buffalo, a GVN Center of Excellence, and the Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, to win a five-year NIH Fogarty grant. The grant will fund the development of a global infectious diseases research training program, which will focus on human viruses, as well as the planned Jamaica Center for Infectious Diseases Research.

The Kerala Affiliate/IAV is the first virology institute in India affiliated with the GVN and will play an important role in the work that we do in South Asia. Currently, Kerala depends on institutes outside the state to detect certain viruses, due to lack of advanced facilities. The IAV will have world-class laboratories with bio-safety level-3 facilities, which will allow for more rapid diagnosis of a greater range of viral infections. The institute will also do epidemiological research to, and will train doctors and virologists so that they can detect and treat diseases with more efficiency. It will work with its partners at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden and Hokkaido University in Japan, both already GVN Centers of Excellence.

We have also had success in the past year in our campaign to encourage the World Health Organization and other public health organizations to promote and implement HTLV-1 prevention strategies. With the renewed attention paid to the debilitating and sometimes deadly diseases associated with the virus, we believe these efforts will continue to grow.

Expanding our network of virologists will enable us to better detect and prevent of viruses such as Nipah, Zika, dengue, and chikungunya, as well as our continued efforts to combat influenza, hepatitis, HIV, and HTLV-1 around the world. The expertise and leadership of our partners across the globe is at the heart of our mission and will help us reach our goal of anticipating, controlling, and preventing viral epidemic threats.

-Robert C. Gallo, MD
The Homer & Martha Gudelsky Distinguished Professor in Medicine
Co-Founder & Director Institute of Human Virology at the
University of Maryland School of Medicine
Co-Founder & International Scientific Advisor
Global Virus Network (GVN)