A Letter from the GVN International Scientific Advisor and Chair, Scientific Leadership Board

When the Global Virus Network (GVN) was founded in 2011, our mandate was to safeguard mankind from a potential catastrophic and devastating pandemic virus. To accomplish this, we assembled a network of experts from across the globe to share information, collaborate on research, train virologists, and encourage advocacy among government leaders, the private sector and the scientific community. Since then, we have made great strides in building this worldwide network and educating the next generation of virologists.

One important headline is that we have a new leader. In October of 2017, GVN appointed Dr. Christian Bréchot as the next president of GVN. With his extraordinary experience and commitment, Dr. Bréchot is the perfect choice to lead us forward. He has spent his career working on some of the viruses that we are trying to vanquish. Most recently, he has served as president of the Institut Pasteur.

Not only does Dr. Bréchot have extraordinary ability in public health and basic science virology, he is also an experienced administrator. His relentless dedication and boundless energy, as well as his breadth of international experience, will help enable GVN to realize its great potential. We are very pleased to have him.

As we move forward, the GVN continues to focus on understanding and planning for viral epidemics. We’ve created several task forces to focus on specific viruses, including Zika and HTLV-1, and are closely watching developments related to MERS, Ebola, West Nile virus, polio, measles, and pandemic influenza. Our 10th International GVN Meeting in Annecy, France on November 28-30, 2018 will also center on this issue — the “Eradication and Control of (Re-)Emerging Viruses.”

Since the International GVN Meeting in Melbourne last September, we collaborated with patient advocates and international experts on an open letter to World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Elect Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus. In it, we asked the WHO to do more to fight HTLV-1 and proposed several transmission prevention strategies.A short version of the letter was published May 10 in The Lancet here and a longer version of the letter is found on the GVN website here.

We also continue to focus on education. As we have since 2013, the GVN is again this year offering the Short Course to early-career scientists and physicians from around the world. In recent years, there has been a distressing decrease in the number of people going into virus research. This is particularly worrisome since viral threats are on the rise, and we want to help make sure there are as many highly-trained virologists as possible.

Taught by experts from our GVN Centers of Excellence, the one-week intensive GVN Short Course, which will take place in Baltimore in August this year, allows participants to study with the best in the field and to get to know experts from all over the world. Going forward, we plan to offer these courses in other places in the world too.

We’re accomplishing many of our goals, but much more must be done. We continue to collaborate with other global health organizations to advance our goals. One such partnership we’re currently working on is becoming the scientific arm of Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation (CEPI), and working together on threats such as Lassa virus.

We’re working hard to secure more funding and to focus on getting more grants so that we can expand the depth and breadth of our work. Having the unprecedented expertise, inspired vision and consummate leadership of Dr. Bréchot will help us reach those goals.

-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)