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NIAID expands capability for influenza research and surveillance

Excellence for Influenza Research and Surveillance. Their work will include determining the prevalence of avian influenza in animals that routinely come into close contact with people; understanding how flu viruses evolve, adapt and transmit infection; and identifying immunological factors that can determine whether a flu virus causes only mild illness or death. Additionally, some centers will monitor for international and domestic cases of animal and human influenza to rapidly detect and characterize viruses that may have pandemic potential and to create vaccine candidates targeted to those viruses. Ultimately, these studies will lay the groundwork for developing new and improved control measures for emerging and reemerging flu viruses.

Summaries of the six NIAID Centers of Excellence for Influenza Research and Surveillance awards are provided below.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis (principal investigator—Dr. Robert Webster) Research activities will involve evaluating antiviral drug regimens and factors that drive drug resistance; identifying viral markers that may indicate how a virus becomes deadly, adapts and transmits infection; uncovering immune system mechanisms that protect against the H5N1 avian flu virus; and identifying the factors that make animals and people susceptible to flu virus infection. In addition, St. Jude will expand its animal surveillance to more than a dozen countries and multiple U.S. states. St. Jude also will monitor pediatric populations for flu activity and maintain a surveillance component to monitor for evidence of the reemergence of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). Additionally, the researchers will explore strategies for controlling influenza outbreaks in agricultural settings.

University of California at Los Angeles (principal investigator—Dr. Scott Layne) UCLA investigators will monitor animal influenza internationally and in the states of Alaska, Washington and Califor
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Source:NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases


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