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Monday, March 8th, 2021

CDC grants $10 million to four Florida-based universities for Zika-related research initiatives

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently awarded a $10 million grant to four Florida-based universities to collaborate on a newly-formed research center that will focus on combating diseases such as the Zika virus.

The facility, called the Southeast Regional Center of Excellence in Vector-Borne Disease: The Gateway Program, will be primarily led by the University of Florida.

The new center is part of a $184 million fund granted by the CDC to states, territories, local jurisdictions and universities to fight the spread of Zika virus infection. In total, the CDC has dedicated a total of $350 million under the Zika Response and Preparedness Appropriations Act of 2016.

“Zika continues to be a threat to pregnant women,” CDC Director Tom Frieden said. “States, territories, and communities need this CDC funding to fight Zika and protect the next generation of Americans.”

Researchers at the University of Miami developed an attractive toxic sugar bait for mosquitos. While the bait has been used in rural African territories, it has not been tested in a highly-urbanized environment like Miami.

A research team at Florida International University is currently conducting a research initiative on mosquito neural genetics by testing a bait that lures female mosquitos to lay eggs in a trap.

Scientists at the University of South Florida are working on a method to block the transmission of eastern equine encephalitis by migratory birds, which are known to have frequent contact with mosquitoes.

“We each have our own niche, our own expertise, but together we’re unstoppable,” Rhoel Dinglasan, principal investigator, said. “We’re a natural team.”