St. Jude Children's
NIAID will award $23 million per year for seven years to establish the consortium of centers, which includes St. Jude, according to Robert Webster, PhD, a member of the Infectious Diseases department and holder of the Rose Marie Thomas Chair at St. Jude. Webster, the principal investigator for the NIAID contract at St. Jude, also directs the
The mission of the centers is to expand NIAIDs influenza surveillance program in the
St. Jude will perform both surveillance of influenza viruses and basic research under the new contract. There are a variety of viruses to monitor besides the well-known H5N1, Webster said. For example, H7N7 infected chicken industry workers in the
The establishment of the six Centers of Excellence is an extension of work done by St. Jude under a contract NIAID awarded the institution in 1999, two years after the 1997 outbreak of H5N1 in
The aim of the surveillance in the new contract is to track outbreaks of influenza virus infections in animals that routinely come into close contact with people and that have the potential to cause a pandemic. The investigators will monitor viruses in several
The basic research efforts are aimed at determining the molecular, ecological and/or environmental factors that influence how these viruses cause disease, how they spread and evolve and how the immune system responds to infection with these viruses. The
This award recognizes both the enormous contribution that St. Jude has made over the last several decades in the study of animal influenza viruses, as well as our leadership role in this area, said Richard Webby, PhD, assistant member in the Division of Virology in the Infectious Diseases department at St. Jude and a co-principal investigator for the St. Jude Center of Excellence research program.
The other five Centers of Excellence and their principal investigators are the University of California at Los Angeles (Scott Lane); University of Minnesota, Minneapolis (Marguerite Pappaioanou); Emory University, Atlanta (Richard Compans); Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York (Adolfo Garcia-Sastre) and the University of Rochester, Rochester, N.Y. (John Treanor).
Other co-principal investigators on the St. Jude contract are Elena Govorkova, Erich Hoffman, Charles Russell and Peter Doherty.
Source: St. Jude Children's