In the Midst of the Second Worst Ebola Outbreak Since Its Discovery, Top African Scientists Identify Ways to Battle Deadly Diseases Together
Baltimore, Maryland, USA, June 25, 2019: During a meeting held last month in Entebbe, Uganda, the Global Virus Network (GVN), representing 48 Centers of Excellence and 7 Affiliates in 29 countries comprising foremost experts in every class of virus causing disease in humans, launched the Africa GVN, a regional GVN chapter dedicated to leveraging the network’s broad resources and to combat viral diseases together despite English and French speaking language challenges on the continent. The announcement comes as the Democratic Republic of Congo faces a growing Ebola outbreak, which has jumped the border to Uganda with three confirmed cases.
“The meeting last month not only joined scientists that would not otherwise be collaborating due to language barriers, but was the catalyst in bringing together English and French speaking colleagues from the USA and Europe to discuss training, education and collaborative research programs that the GVN will be pursuing,” said Prof. Christian Bréchot, MD, PhD, president of the Global Virus Network (GVN), professor at the University of South Florida and executive director of the Romark Company Institute for Medical Research. “All of these activities will be executed in tight coordination with the institutions and networks already established in, and involved in, Africa such as the Africa CDC, African Academy of Sciences, the European Commission, Foundation Merieux and the International Network of the Institut Pasteur.”
Meeting participants were comprised of top virologists from around the world with a focus on African scientists; countries included those from Cameroon, Central African Republic, Germany, Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Madagascar, Netherlands, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Uganda and USA. The meeting focused on joint training and education initiatives, collaborative research in viral epidemics and creating partnerships with international organizations, industries, academia and governments.
“I am pleased that the GVN is developing programs that are sustainable in order for African virologists to have the opportunity to train locally and overseas in top institutions, and bring back virus expertise needed to effectively address threats such as the current Ebola outbreak,,” said Prof. Pontiano Kaleebu, PhD, MB ChB, director of the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) and director of the Medical Research Council/ Uganda Virus Research Institute and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine Uganda Research Unit.
Participants of the meeting outlined the need for specific training activities, such as biosafety, molecular virology, biobanking, field sampling of reservoirs, bioinformatics and initiation of research to develop evidence-based strategies to understand these viral epidemics better. The GVN is designing programs to meet these specific needs and will utilize its broad network of top virology institutions to provide exchange opportunities.
“I am pleased to see the GVN extend its reach in Africa to support strong existing organizations and forge new connections across cultures to strengthen efforts in order to effectively combat viral threats,” said Prof. Souleymane Mboup, PhD, president of Institut de Recherche en Santé, de Surveillance Epidémiologique et de Formation in Senegal.
“Africa in many ways is ground zero for global pandemics, as we are seeing with the current Ebola outbreak, and it is time that we go beyond language barriers and design universal training programs and research collaborations that are suited for young African virologists who are our next generation’s hope in protecting mankind from harmful and deadly diseases,” said Prof. Alash’le Abimiku, MSc, PhD, professor of medicine, Institute of Human Virology, University of Maryland School of Medicine and executive director, International Research Center of Excellence at the Institute of Human Virology-Nigeria.
The first GVN Africa Meeting was funded by Wellcome Trust, Servier/Association Science et Technologie (AST) and Cepheid.
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 48 Centers of Excellence and seven Affiliates in 29 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
Nora Samaranayake, GVN