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UNMC/Nebraska Medicine join Global Virus Network to help combat viral diseases

Is recognized as Center of Excellence in infectious diseases

The University of Nebraska Medical Center has joined the Global Virus Network (GVN), a worldwide network of members from 29 countries combatting major threats posed by various human viruses.

The network represents experts at 45 Centers of Excellence and seven affiliates recognized for expertise in infectious diseases in every class of virus causing disease in humans. Work includes drug development, research, training and education in the areas of biocontainment and antiviral therapeutics preparedness, defense and first research response to emerging, exiting and unidentified viruses that pose a clear and present threat to public health.

Criteria for a GVN Center of Excellence includes a productivity and expertise in two to three viral areas, a commitment to capacity building, particularly in resource-poor nations and a commitment to support GVN’s central operation through inclusion on grant and contract applications, fundraising events, direct donations or other means.

UNMC is one of three of GVN’s newest Centers of Excellence invited to join the network. UNMC was selected because of its long history of significant viral research activities and for 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. The two other centers are the West African Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens at the University of Ghana and Colombia-Wisconsin One-Health Consortium in Madison, Wis.

The UNMC center will be led by Christopher Kratochvil, M.D., UNMC associate vice chancellor for clinical research and vice president for research at Nebraska Medicine and Howard Gendelman, M.D., Margaret R. Larson Professor of Internal Medicine and chair of the UNMC Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Neuroscience. Among other things, UNMC will deepen the network’s expertise in improved therapies against HIV and biosecurity.

“This opportunity and recognition as a Center of Excellence would not have been possible without our incredible partnership with Nebraska Medicine and our many University of Nebraska collaborations,” Dr. Kratochvil said.

Dr. Gendelman said UNMC is looking forward to working with the GVN to establish and foster further collaboration domestically and abroad, to include drug development, research, training and education in the areas of biocontainment and antiviral therapeutics. “The breadth of activities from both of our organizations is significant, and significantly overlapping. We also look forward to working to develop medicines for the treatment, prevention and elimination of viral diseases through UNMC’s antiviral production facilities and other research resources,” he said.

Christian Bréchot, M.D., Ph.D., GVN president, said adding the new centers to the network is an important step for GVN’s development.

“Indeed, the GVN is reinforcing its expertise in biosecurity by bringing together centers such as the UNMC and those working in the most basic aspects of research on human viruses,” said Dr. Bréchot, who also is the Homer & Martha Gudelsky Distinguished Professor in Medicine and director of the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

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 45 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 Follow us on Twitter @GlobalVirusNews

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