Seeking greater investigations into how and where viruses and other pathogens can crossover from wildlife to people, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) officially created the Centers for Research in Emerging Infectious Diseases (CREID) this week through an initial 11 grants amounting to $17 million.
The network will unite multiple scientific disciplines, and, over the next five years, NIAID intends to pump approximately $82 million to guarantee its success. The network will consist of multiple institutions collaborating both within the United States and across 28 other countries. Each center will focus its efforts on one or more regions of the world.
“The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic serves as a potent reminder of the devastation that can be wrought when a new virus infects humans for the first time,” NIAID Director Anthony Fauci said. “The CREID network will enable early warnings of emerging diseases wherever they occur, which will be critical to rapid responses. The knowledge gained through this research will increase our preparedness for future outbreaks.”
Research projects will include everything from surveillance studies and source tracking among animals to a determination of the genetic changes that make pathogens capable of infecting humans. CREID’s teams will create reagents and diagnostic assays along the way, and study human immune responses to new or emerging infectious diseases. In all, it will chart the course of disease spillover throughout its many phases, from emergence to urban spread.
What each center tracks will also vary. Central and South American efforts, for example, will focus on arboviruses like the Zika virus, chikungunya, and dengue, whereas Asian and Southeast Asian efforts will focus on coronaviruses as well. A CREID Coordinating Center will be established in North Carolina in partnership with RTI International and Duke University, to support network-wide data management, outbreak research response, quality control, and administration of a pilot research program for early career investigators.