Six Internationally Renowned Virus Research Institutions Join the Global Virus Network to Combat Viral Diseases

GVN Adds Four Centers of Excellence and Two Affiliates from India, Peru, Republic of Uzbekistan, South Korea, United States and Zimbabwe

Baltimore, Maryland, USA, October 24, 2019: The Global Virus Network (GVN), representing 52 Centers of Excellence and 9 Affiliates in 32 countries comprising foremost experts in every class of virus causing disease in humans and animals, announced today the addition of four new Centers of Excellence including, Manipal Academy of Higher Education (An Institution of eminence deemed to be University), The Tropical Medicine Institute “Alexander von Humboldt” of the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, the Korea National Institute of Health’s Center for Infectious Diseases Research, the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University, and two Affiliates, the Research Institute of Virology Ministry of Health of the Republic of Uzbekistan and the Antiviral Pharmacology Laboratory and Clinical Trials Research Center Virology Program at the University of Zimbabwe. The announcement was made by Christian Bréchot, MD, PhD, President of the GVN and Robert Gallo, MD, Co-Founder and Chairman of the International Scientific Leadership Board of the GVN.

“The GVN continues to serve as a catalyst uniquely connecting top virus research institutions from around the world to build collaborative, effective alliances and eradicate viral threats. In fact, these six Centers and Affiliates perfectly illustrate this concept, combining Centers with highly complementary skills, from all over the world,” said Bréchot, who is also Professor at the University of South Florida. “We support current organizations such as the World Health Organization and stand ready to serve as global first-responders to dangerous viruses and operate as an international clearinghouse to educate, inform and disseminate critical information to governments, health organizations, healthcare practitioners and the public-at-large.”

“Since HIV/AIDS first appeared, I strongly have believed mankind will best be served if the world’s leading virologists are organized and better equipped to deal with existing and new viral threats,” said Gallo, who is also The Homer & Martha Gudelsky Distinguished Professor in Medicine and Director, Institute of Human Virology (IHV) at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, a GVN Center of Excellence. “These diverse new members of the GVN add depth of expertise and global reach to our network. They will help us better combat viral threats and train the next generation of virologists.”

The Manipal Institute of Virology (MIV) GVN Center of Excellence is led by Arunkumar Govindakarnavar, PhD, MSc, BSc, Professor and Director, MIV, Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE). MIV is a regional center for diagnostic virology and research, and the regional reference laboratory for Influenza viruses and an Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Grade I Virus Research and Diagnostic Laboratory (VRDL) supported by the Department of Health Research (DHR), National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP) Apex referral laboratory for arboviruses, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW) and Government of India (GOI). Apart from disease diagnostics, MIV supports the state and national health services for outbreak investigations. MIV has established 33 surveillance centers in hospitals across 16 districts of 10 states capable of detecting and responding to viruses and bacteria.

“MIV was instrumental in confirming more than 150 viral outbreaks, and closely involved in outbreaks including the Nipah virus, Zika virus, Acute Encephalitis Syndrome, Hepatitis A virus and Kyasanur Forest Disease,” said Arunkumar. “We look forward to sharing our experiences with the GVN and launching new collaborations to advance the field in our area of expertise in virology.”

The Tropical Medicine Institute “Alexander von Humboldt” of the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia GVN Center of Excellence is led by Eduardo Gotuzzo, MD, FACP, FIDSA, FESCMID, Emeritus Professor, Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia. The Institute is multidisciplinary, specializing in infectious and tropical diseases, with global leadership that conducts research, innovates and diversifies, and promotes public policies and technology transfer contributing to Peru’s development. The Institute specializes in HTLV and its clinical complications, HIV/AIDS and antiretroviral drug therapy, human rhinovirus, hepatitis B and some C viruses, and arboviruses such as Zika virus.

“We have a large HTLV patient cohort and are the country’s most experienced in treating patients with HIV/AIDS, which unfortunately continues to grow due to the significant migration of people from Venezuela,” said Gotuzzo. “The GVN will provide a unique opportunity to advance our studies and international collaborations as well as unique training opportunities.”

The Korea National Institute of Health’s Center for Infectious Diseases Research GVN Center of Excellence is led by Youngmee Jee MD, PhD, Director, Center for Infectious Diseases Research (CID), Korea National Institute of Health (KNIH). KNIH is the only national public health research institution to produce scientific evidence to shape public health policies. The CID, one of three research centers at KNIH, is responsible for research on infectious diseases caused by viral and bacterial pathogens with four primary goals: (1) to enhance the national capacity responding to infectious disease threats, (2) to efficiently control emerging and acute/chronic infectious diseases, (3) to explore infectious diseases affecting human health in relation to climate change, (4) to establish national and international networks through collaborative studies on infectious diseases, and (5) to collect and manage human pathogen resources in Korea.

“I participated in the GVN’s international meeting last June in Barcelona and found the sessions and shared expertise very valuable,” said Jee. “Our broad experience with various global research intuitions such as the World Health Organization and fellow Korean GVN Center of Excellence, the International Vaccine Institute, will deepen GVN’s expertise and advance basic and applied research on emerging viruses and acute and chronic viruses through new collaborations with GVN members.”

The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University GVN Center of Excellence is led by Founding Director Donald Ingber, MD, PhD, who is also the Judah Folkman Professor of Vascular Biology at Harvard Medical School, Senior Associate in the Vascular Biology Program at Boston Children’s Hospital and Professor of Bioengineering at Harvard’s John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. The Wyss Institute leverages recent insights into how nature builds, controls and manufactures to develop new engineering innovations – a new field of research the Institute refers to as Biologically Inspired Engineering. By emulating biological principles of self-assembly, organization and regulation, the Institute is developing disruptive technology solutions for healthcare, energy, architecture, robotics and manufacturing, which are translated into commercial products and therapies through the formation of new startups and corporate alliances. The Institute’s unique Organ-on-a-Chip (Organ Chip) technology enables modeling of human tissues with in vivo-like architectures and physiologies to study viral infection, propagation, evolution, patient-to-patient transmission and host responses in vitro. Wyss Institute researchers are leveraging human Organ Chips and a variety of its other core technologies in a highly multi-disciplinary approach to create rapid, sensitive, and highly specific diagnostics for detection of viruses, broad spectrum anti-virus vaccines, new antiviral therapeutics, novel drug- and gene-delivering viral vectors, and, culture-free viral infectivity assays.

“We offer the GVN a truly unique skill set in bioengineering and technology innovation that will nicely complement the more classic virology focus of most other members of the network, as well as numerous powerful enabling technologies that GVN members should find extremely useful,” said Ingber. “We look forward to the GVN helping us to identify relevant funding opportunities and sources of clinical samples, and to team with us to build stronger consortia around specific problems, and if possible, to provide support for fellows and trainees.”

The Research Institute of Virology Ministry of Health of the Republic of Uzbekistan, which is led by Musabaev Erkin Isakovich, PhD, Professor, Research Institute of Virology of the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Uzbekistan, is an Affiliate through GVN Centers of Excellence, Istituto Nazionale Tumori “Fondazione Pascale” National Cancer Institute, Russian Smorodintsev Research Institute of Influenza (SRII) and Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. The Institute comprises a laboratory of new and re-emerging viral infections (in the structure of National Influenza Center), a reference laboratory, scientific departments, department of molecular-genetic analysis and cultural research, an international department, in-patient department (hospital), including 200 beds to treat infectious disease patients, laboratory-diagnostic and auxiliary departments and rooms and an ambulatory-out-patient diagnostical hepatology center. The Institute’s expertise includes viral hepatitis, liver cirrhosis with viral etiology, HIV/AIDS, new and re-emerging infections, influenza, and intestinal infections.

“We are pleased to join with three renowned GVN Centers of Excellence to become an Affiliate member of the GVN,” said Isakovich. “The GVN will provide opportunities in information sharing and collaborations on research, grants, projects and training initiatives, particularly in the area of scientific exchanges between fellows.”

The Antiviral Pharmacology Laboratory and Clinical Trials Research Center Virology Program at the University of Zimbabwe (UZ), which is led by Charles Chiedza Maponga, PharmD, MHPE, Director, GVN Affiliate at UZ and Justen Manasa, PhD, Co-Director, Virology, Genetics, is an Affiliate through GVN Center of Excellence, University at Buffalo HIV and HCV Clinical Pharmacology Laboratory. UZ is home to a National Institutes of Health (NIH) AIDS Clinical Trials Unit that conducts research with National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) HIV Research networks including the AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG), International Maternal Pediatric and Adolescent AIDS Clinical Trials (IMPAACT) and Microbial Trials Network (MTN). In addition, UZ has a NIAID HIV Clinical Pharmacology Specialty Laboratory. Research priorities include HIV, HCV, HPV and other global virus research agendas. The Antiviral Pharmacology Laboratory is home to a Fogarty-supported HIV Clinical Pharmacology Research Program that is conducted in collaboration with the University at Buffalo. As the HIV/AIDS epidemic has continued to impact developing countries, the need for training in HIV/AIDS Clinical Pharmacology has also expanded in scope, including in clinical expertise such as cancer, behavioral sciences, Alzheimer’s disease, nanomedicine and pediatrics.

“We have a productive collaboration with the GVN Center of Excellence University of Buffalo HIV and HCV Clinical Pharmacology Laboratory and are thrilled to grow our relationship into the GVN as an Affiliate,” said Maponga and Manasa. “Not only do we have a regional capacity to substantively contribute to global research through the GVN, but we welcome training exchange programs that expand our breadth of expertise.”

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 52 Centers of Excellence and 9 Affiliates in 32 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

Media Contact:

Nora Samaranayake, GVN
[email protected]