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UGA and CDC collaborate to address human infectious diseas threats

UGA and CDC collaborate to address human infectious disease threats

Athens, Ga. – The University of Georgia and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have launched a new collaboration focusing on understanding and controlling threats to human health. Scientists from the two institutions will conduct joint studies on rabies, malaria, tick-borne diseases, avian influenza and measles.

“We are pleased to be able to combine the complementary strengths in infectious disease research at the University of Georgia and the CDC and view this as an important first step in an expanding partnership,” said Duncan Krause, director of the UGA Faculty of Infectious Diseases. “In a growing trend nationally, infectious disease research is encompassing human, animal and ecosystem health collectively in order to better control the growing threat of emerging diseases. This initiative with CDC will serve in particular to promote research and graduate training at the interface of public health, veterinary medicine and ecology.”

“Innovation and scientific collaboration between UGA and CDC will be greatly enhanced with this new seed funding program sponsored by both our institutions,” said Robert Spengler, director of the Office of Public Health Research within the CDC Office of the Chief Science Officer. “This new collaborative approach was developed to promote the unique strengths and capabilities of UGA and CDC scientists and facilities. Our investments in this multidisciplinary approach will generate new methods, products, tools and interventions that can protect and improve health.”

Launched in fall 2007, the Faculty of Infectious Diseases is an initiative of the Office of the Vice President for Research. It addresses infectious disease threats to human and animal health world-wide, integrating multidisciplinary research to develop successful countermeasures, including vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics.

Twenty-one UGA-CDC proposals competed for research funding of $50,000 per year for two years. Awards were made to projects demonstrating the greatest scientific merit, potential to enhance UGA-CDC collaborative interactions and promise for future funding support. The five funded proposals and their principal investigators are: “Ecological and anthropogenic drivers of vampire bat-transmitted rabies outbreaks,” Sonia Altizer and Pejman Rohani (UGA) and Charles Rupprecht (CDC); “Development of simple, field-usable molecular tools for the diagnosis of malaria,” Jessica Kissinger (UGA) and Venkatachalam Udhayakumar (CDC); “Ecosystem health and human health: understanding the ecological effects of prescribed fire regimes on the distribution and population dynamics of tick-borne zoonoses,” Michael Yabsley, Sonia Hernandez-Divers and Elizabeth Gleim (UGA) and Michael Levin and Robert Massung (CDC); “Aerosol delivery of a virus-like-particle vaccine against H5N1 avian influenza in poultry,” Egbert Mundt and Holly Sellers (UGA) and Mark Papania and Ruben Donis (CDC); “High sensitivity nano-optical method to detect measles virus in clinical samples,” Rich Dluhy and Ralph Tripp (UGA) and Paul Rota (CDC).

For more information on the Faculty of Infectious Diseases, see