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UC Davis wins new national center for avian flu research

UC Davis today was named a partner in a new $18.5 million national research center that will study influenza viruses with pandemic potential, such as avian influenza H5N1 ("bird flu").

The Center for Rapid Influenza Surveillance and Research (CRISAR) is one of six new centers that were announced by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, an arm of the National Institutes of Health.

The new center's overall objective is to expand the federal government's early-detection program for influenza, and to help it reduce the chances of a deadly influenza outbreak around the world, as well as reduce the effects of common, "seasonal" strains of influenza.

Walter Boyce, a research veterinarian and director of the UC Davis Wildlife Health Center, will lead the UC Davis branch of CRISAR. Boyce and Scott Layne of UCLA, a public health physician and professor at UCLA's School of Public Health, have been named co-directors and co-principal investigators of the new center.

"UC Davis and UCLA have joined together to tackle one of the most important public health threats of our time," said Boyce.

The Wildlife Health Center is a program of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. UC Davis is one of the world's top veterinary medical schools and a leader in the study of diseases transmitted from animals to people, called zoonoses.

"This new center is an acknowledgment that the health of people, domestic animals, and wildlife are inextricably entwined, and that veterinary medicine and human medicine really are 'one medicine,' " said Bennie Osburn, dean of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

Public health experts say that learning exactly how the influenza virus is changing as it moves around the globe is essential to knowing when it might develop the ability to move quickly between humans, giving it pandemic potential, and knowing how to f
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Contact: Walter Boyce
wmboyce@ucdavis.edu
530-752-1401
University of California - Davis
2-Apr-2007


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