University of Nebraska Medical Center, West African Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens and Colombia-Wisconsin One-Health Consortium Join Renowned Global Virus Network to Combat Viral Diseases

Baltimore, Maryland, USA, November 13, 2018: The Global Virus Network (GVN), representing 45 Centers of Excellence and 7 Affiliates in 29 countries comprising foremost experts in every class of virus causing disease in humans, announced today the addition of the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC), West African Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens (WACCBIP) at the University of Ghana and Colombia-Wisconsin One-Health Consortium (CWOHC) as its newest Centers of Excellence. The announcement was made by Robert Gallo, MD, GVN Co-Founder and Scientific Director and Christian Bréchot, MD, PhD, GVN President.

“We are very pleased to add these three valuable institutions to our growing international network,” said Dr. Gallo, who is also The Homer & Martha Gudelsky Distinguished Professor in Medicine and Director of the Institute of Human Virology (IHV) at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, a GVN Center of Excellence. “UNMC, among other things, will deepen our expertise in improved therapies against HIV and biosecurity while WACCBIP and CWOHC will extend GVN’s reach in Africa and South America respectively.”

“Joining these new Centers to our network is an important step for GVN’s development,” said Dr. Bréchot, who is also Professor at the University of South Florida and Executive Director of the Romark Company Institute for Medical Research. “Indeed, the GVN is reinforcing its expertise in biosecurity by merging Centers such as the UNMC to those working in the most basic aspects of research on human viruses, and the GVN is reinforcing its presence in Africa and South America by integrating WACCBIP and CWOHC, thus allowing a strong global approach to the major threats posed by several human viruses.”

The UNMC GVN Center of Excellence will be led by Christopher Kratochvil, MD, Associate Vice Chancellor for Clinical Research, UNMC, Vice President for Research, Nebraska Medicine, Chief Medical Officer, UNeHealth and Howard Gendelman, MD, Margaret R. Larson Professor of Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases Chair, Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Neuroscience. UNMC has a long history of significant viral research activities, leading a unique array of initiatives that include innovative basic and translational research, a special pathogens clinical trials network and multiple global public health initiatives. In addition to research, the new Center promotes capacity building through onsite training at UNMC, external collaborations with major U.S. and global pharmaceutical facilities and the capacity to produce products onsite and in supporting institutions located in resource-poor nations. UNMC also composes the Global Center for Health Security (GCHS), which includes one of the largest clinical biocontainment units in the country and is constructing the federal government’s 20-bed national quarantine center merging biosecurity and biodefense initiatives.

“We look forward to working with the GVN to establish and foster further collaborations domestically and abroad, in multiple domains to include drug development, research, training and education in the areas of biocontainment and antiviral therapeutics,” said Drs. Kratochvil and Gendelman. “The breadth of activities from both of our organizations is significant, and significantly overlapping. We also look forward to working with the GVN to develop medicines for the treatment, prevention and elimination of viral diseases through the use of the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s antiviral production facilities.”

The WACCBIP’s GVN Center of Excellence will be led by Gordon Awandare, BSc, MPhil, PhD, Unit Director of the GVN-WACCBIP, Associate Professor and Director of WACCBIP, University of Ghana and Osbourne Quaye, BSc, MSc, PhD, Center Director of the GVN-WACCIBIP and Head, Virology Laboratory, WACCBIP, University of Ghana. WACCBIP’s research focuses on the areas of disease pathogenesis and immunity, pathogen biology and genomics, host/pathogen interactions, molecular diagnosis, molecular epidemiology for surveillance, drug discovery and vaccine development. WACCBIP trains high-level health professionals and biomedical scientists on cell and molecular biology of infectious pathogens through MPhil, PhD and post-doctoral programs and workshops, and serves as a core facility with state-of-the-art biomedical laboratories to support infectious disease research in the sub-region. The Centre also has a Biomedical High-Performance Computing Unit that provides cluster computing services to promote teaching, research, and dissemination of information among health professionals and academics, and serves as a focal point for enhancing collaboration among biomedical scientists and biotechnology companies.

“We look forward to serving as a resource to our colleagues in the GVN,” said Drs. Awandare and Quaye. “Further, we look to the GVN to support our training programs that foster world-class research excellence with national, regional and international partnerships, thereby improving diagnosis, prevention, and control of diseases in sub-Saharan Africa.”

The CWOHC GVN Center of Excellence, a collaboration between the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Ruta N Corporation of Colombia and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, will be led by Jorge Osorio, DVM, PhD, Professor of Pathobiological Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Wisconsin-Madison. The CWOHC focuses on emerging viral diseases including the characterization of Zika virus, dengue virus, other arboviruses, and human and animal influenza viruses. CWOHC also studies the development of novel vaccines for dengue, influenza, Zika, rabies, hand-foot-and-mouth disease and African swine fever. To characterize host responses and protection, CWOHC developed animal models for a variety of pathogens including Zika, chikungunya, dengue, influenza, monkeypox and enteroviruses.

“The University of Wisconsin’s extensive research collaborations of studying emerging viral diseases with Colombia dates back more than 47 years,” said Dr. Osorio. “Colombia is a unique country that will be a terrific collaborator for other members of the GVN. Its strategic geographical location, the combination of the tropical environment, megadiversity, vast range of microclimates and ecosystems, including the Amazonia and Orinoquia, the mountains and cordilleras, the Sierras [Nevada of Santa Marta, de la Macarena, Perijá] and the two oceans generate an enormous amount of biological research and discovery. In addition, we look forward to opening doors for regional partnerships and strengthening local networks to build and improve scientific capacity in South America and Colombia.”

 

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 42 Centers of Excellence and 7 Affiliates in 27 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.

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