$23 million for influenza research in 2014

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Five institutions will together receive $23 million this year for research and surveillance that could improve understanding of influenza viruses and preparation for pandemics.

The National Institutes of Health is providing that money through September in the first year of a seven-year contract with institutions of the Centers for Excellence for Influenza Research and Surveillance, a network established in 2007, the NIH announced in April.  

The NIH will give $8 million to the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.; $6 million to the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City; $3.6 million to Emory University in Atlanta; $3 million to the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, N.Y.; and $2.3 million to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. Examples of the institutions’ projects are research on the abilities of some influenza viruses to infect multiple species, factors connected with pandemics, human and animal immune responses, and international surveillance of influenza strains. 

Anthony S. Fauci, MD, director of the NIH National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in the announcement that the institutions exemplify the NIAID mission to perform research and remain able to respond to an emerging health threat. He said the network of institutions was critical for the national response to the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic, during which the institutions characterized the virus and tested candidate vaccines.

“CEIRS investigators have contributed greatly to our understanding of how influenza viruses emerge from wild and domestic animals, their adaptation to and global circulation throughout the human population and the interplay between the viruses and human immune responses,” he wrote.