U OF M awarded $22.5 million NIH contract to study avian influenza

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), today named the University of Minnesota as one of six sites across the country that will establish a Center of Excellence for Influenza Research and Surveillance.

The Minnesota NIH/NIAID Center of Excellence for Influenza Research and Surveillance (MCEIRS) will receive $22.5 million over seven years to focus on disease and virologic surveillance of avian influenza viruses, providing the federal government with useful information and public health strategies for controlling the impact of an influenza pandemic.

The Center of Excellence established at the U of M will work to rapidly identify and characterize influenza viruses that have pandemic potential by monitoring domestic and international wild bird, poultry, and swine populations, said Marguerite Pappaioanou, D.V.M., Ph.D., principal investigator and professor of infectious disease and epidemiology at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. The center will be prepared to respond to research and public health needs in a time of increasing concern over the possibility of pandemic flu.

The MCEIRS will perform animal flu surveillance in eight countries and multiple states. Domestic research will include: monitoring wild birds in U.S. wetlands; identifying low pathologic influenza strains in Minnesota poultry; characterizing swine viruses in animal populations from Minnesota to North Carolina; and conducting virologic surveillance in live bird markets in the Midwest and Northeast. Internationally, the center will conduct avian influenza surveillance of people, poultry, pigs, dogs, cats, and wild birds in rural Thailand; wild waterfowl in Vietnam; wild bird populations in Laos; and commercial poultry operations in other Asian countries.

The majority of diagnostic testing and virus characterization will occur at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medici

Contact: Liz Wulderk
University of Minnesota

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