Friday, September 27, 2013

NIH renews funding for University of Maryland vaccine research

[Excerpt - editing below is mine]

Public release date: 26-Sep-2013
Contact: Bill Seiler
University of Maryland Medical Center 

Baltimore, MD - September 26, 2013 - The University of Maryland School of Medicine's Center for Vaccine Development (CVD) has successfully competed for and received a renewed contract to conduct basic research and clinical studies of vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics. Support for this work to combat existing and emerging infectious diseases is provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). 
According to Dr. Kotloff, the NIAID expanded its required scope of expertise to qualify as a VTEU for this most recent contract competition. "Future projects are likely to use molecular tools that are now available to design better vaccines and to unmask signals that lead to immunity, while avoiding side effects," she says. As a result, the CVD team has augmented its multidisciplinary collaboration with colleagues at the University of Maryland Institute for Genome Sciences and the School of Pharmacy, both located on the University of Maryland campus in Baltimore.

The new VTEU contract has more emphasis on international studies, compared with previous contracts.

"This emphasis on global health is a great match for the CVD because our center has a large geographic reach to facilitate clinical studies in several African and Asian countries as well as Santiago, Chile," says E. Albert Reece, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A., vice president for medical affairs at the University of Maryland and the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor and Dean of the University of Maryland School of Medicine. "The Center's domestic and international staff includes experts in a variety of fields, ranging from molecular biology and immunology, to internal medicine and pediatrics, to epidemiology and biostatistics, positioning the School of Medicine to contribute significantly to the development and testing of novel vaccines and novel vaccine delivery systems."

A strength of the VTEUs is their ability to rapidly enroll large numbers of volunteers into trials. This rapid-response capability is especially important for testing vaccines designed to counteract emerging public health concerns, such as the vaccine against the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus, which has become a component of the seasonal flu vaccine. Earlier this month, the VTEUs launched a national, multi-center trial of a vaccine aimed to prevent an especially virulent avian influenza virus, H7N9, which emerged in people early in 2013. 

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