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October 15, 2020

NIH awards $17M to research emerging infectious diseases

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The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases announced in August the creation of the Centers for Research in Emerging Infectious Diseases, an interdisciplinary network of research centers throughout the world.

The CREID network, similar to the long-running Predict project, will investigate emerging viruses and pathogens in wildlife and the spillover that could cause diseases in people. NIAID, which is part of the National Institutes of Health, intends to grant $82 million to CREID over the next five years. The 10 network organizations will split $17 million during the first year.

Lab research

“The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic serves as a potent reminder of the devastation that can be wrought when a new virus infects humans for the first time,” said Anthony S. Fauci, MD, director of the NIAID, in a press release. “The CREID network will enable early warnings of emerging diseases wherever they occur, which will be critical to rapid responses. The knowledge gained through this research will increase our preparedness for future outbreaks.”

Each center in the network will collaborate with peer institutions in the United States and 28 other countries and will focus its efforts on one or more regions of the world. The multidisciplinary teams of investigators will conduct pathogen and host surveillance; study pathogen transmission, pathogenesis, and immunologic responses in the host; and develop reagents and diagnostic assays for improved detection of important emerging pathogens and their vectors. The plan is to develop a framework to respond quickly to future outbreaks. In East and Central Africa, the focus will include Rift Valley fever virus and the coronavirus that causes Middle East respiratory syndrome, according to the release. In Asia and Southeast Asia, investigators will conduct research on coronaviruses and arboviruses. In every region, investigators will be poised to study any newly emerging pathogen, dubbed pathogen X.

Among those receiving grants are the following:

  • The University of California-Davis EpiCenter for Emerging Infectious Disease Intelligence, led by Dr. Christine K. Johnson. The consortium of leading research institutions will work to enhance preparedness for disease emergence events in the Congo and Amazon Basin and advance the understanding of viral emergence from wildlife in forests and rapidly urbanizing environments.
  • Dr. M. Kariuki Njenga, at Washington State University’s Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health, who is also the country director of the WSU Global Health Program for Kenya. He will lead the Center for Research in Emerging Infectious Diseases–East and Central Africa.
  • The EcoHealth Alliance’s Emerging Infectious Diseases–South East Asia Research Collaboration Hub, which is a collaboration among leaders in emerging disease research in the U.S., Thailand, Singapore, and the three major Malaysian administrative regions. EID-SEARCH has three specific areas to identify, characterize, and assess: spillover risk of potentially highly zoonotic viruses from wildlife, evidence and risk factors for viral spillover in high-risk communities, and viral etiology of undiagnosed clinical syndromes representing cryptic outbreaks.

Visit the CREID network for more information.