UC Davis' chief role in the new surveillance and research center will be to coordinate the collection and testing of tens of thousands of samples from wildlife, especially wild birds, on both the U.S. and Asian sides of the Pacific Ocean.
UC Davis will also collect samples, in collaboration with the University of Alaska, Fairbanks (UAF), and the Wildlife Conservation Society.
UC Davis will sample wildlife in the Pacific Flyway from California to Alaska. UAF will sample in Alaska, Far East Russia and Japan. The Wildlife Conservation Society, based in New York City, will sample in Cambodia, Laos and Mongolia.
All samples will be tested at UC Davis and UAF for the presence of influenza viruses. Positive samples will then be sent to Layne's group at UCLA for precise identification based on their genetic makeup.
Layne will direct the High Speed High Volume Laboratory Network for Infectious Diseases, which is being created to quickly analyze and process high quantities of biological samples. It will have the unique capability to analyze influenza genes from thousands of viruses each year, far more quickly and in far greater numbers than any other program.
The final CRISAR collaborator, Los Alamos National Laboratory, will provide technological support to UCLA's high-speed laboratory and create dipstick test devices for identifying positive flu samples in the field.
"Clearly it's important to know if and when strains of flu like Asian H5N1 make it to the U.S. But we can't stop there," said Boyce. "We need to know how viruses are changing, and whether they are becoming more or less of a threat.
"This new national influenza surveillance and research center gives us that ability. CRISAR and the other NIH centers will work together to reduce and manage the threat of influenza."