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NIAID expands capability for influenza research and surveillance

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), today announced it is awarding $23 million per year for seven years to establish six Centers of Excellence for Influenza Research and Surveillance. Collectively, the centers will expand NIAID’s influenza surveillance program internationally and in the United States, and will bolster influenza research in key areas, including understanding how the virus causes disease and how the human immune system responds to infection with the virus. The goal of the newly created centers is to provide the federal government with important information to inform public health strategies for controlling and lessening the impact of seasonal influenza as well as an influenza pandemic.

“The threat of an influenza pandemic is a major source of concern for the public health community,?says NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. “The new NIAID Centers of Excellence for Influenza Research and Surveillance will help expand the federal government’s existing international and domestic influenza surveillance efforts, further our understanding of influenza viruses, and generate the information and tools necessary to better prepare and respond to a pandemic situation.?

The new awards build upon an ongoing program led by St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, TN, initiated by NIAID after the 1997 Hong Kong outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza in humans. Under this program, researchers conducted surveillance of influenza viruses in aquatic birds and live bird markets in Hong Kong, which helped shed light on the natural history of flu viruses. Further, scientists conducted training courses in animal influenza surveillance, developed diagnostic tools to detect animal flu viruses, and generated viruses suitable for use in developing human influenza vaccines.

NIAID is expanding the surveillance and research program to now include six Centers of
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Source:NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases


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