The University of Washington, and collaborators at Rockefeller University (NYC), FIOCRUZ (Brazil), IRESSEF (Senegal), KRISP (South Africa), Aga Khan University (Pakistan) and Chang Gung University (Taiwan) were awarded a NIH National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) Centers for Research in Emerging Infectious Diseases (CREID) grant for $8.75 M for 5 years to form the UNITED WORLD for ANTIVIRAL RESEARCH NETWORK (UWARN). The timing is critical, as UWARN will provide surveillance for emerging pandemic viruses, develop urgently needed diagnostics and therapeutics, and expand understanding of viral immune responses, which is key to vaccine development.
Wesley C. Van Voorhis Co-Director of the Center for Emerging and Reemerging Infectious Disease (CERID) brought together top investigators from the University of Washington, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, the Institute of Protein Design (IPD), the Rockefeller University and abroad to form the United World Antiviral Research Network (UWARN). Van Voorhis stated: “We are very excited to establish UWARN, and the new collaborations with the five overseas partners to better address viral pandemics.”
UWARN has four Principal Investigators. The first is Wesley C. Van Voorhis MD, PhD, the Director of the Center for Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases (CERID) and Professor in the University of Washington (UW) Division of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (DAID), Department of Medicine, and Adjunct Professor of Microbiology and Global Health. The second is Judith Wasserheit MD, MPH, the Chair and Professor, Department of Global Health (DGH), as well as Professor, DAID/Medicine and Epidemiology at UW. The third is Michael Gale Jr., PhD, Director of the Center for Innate Immunity and Immune Disease (CIIID), Co-Director of CERID, Professor of Immunology, and Adjunct Professor of Microbiology and Global Health at UW. The fourth is Peter Rabinowitz MD, MPH, Director of the Center for One Health Research (COHR), and Professor in the Departments of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, Family Medicine, Global Health, Epidemiology, and Medicine (AID) at UW. These four principal investigators and their Centers came together under the auspices of the UW Metacenter for Pandemic Preparedness.
UWARN will address emerging viral infectious diseases by carrying out research with collaborating partner research laboratories in Brazil, Pakistan, Senegal, South Africa and Taiwan. The research will develop innovative diagnostic reagents, including human viral-neutralizing antibodies and designed proteins that release light when antibodies to virus are present in blood (LOCKR technology from IPD). UWARN research will also improve understanding of how viruses manipulate the human immune system, facilitating development of better biomarkers to predict severe disease as well as host-directed therapies that could improve outcomes of viral infection.
UWARN will serve as one of ten NIAID Centers in the CREID Network, consisting of multidisciplinary teams of investigators, working in over 30 countries. The CREID network will be coordinated by the Research Triangle Institute (RTI), a large nonprofit research organization with regional and project offices in over 75 countries, and Duke University, a premier university known for its cutting-edge medical research and home to the Duke Human Vaccine Institute. Together they will serve as the CREID Coordination Center (CC).