The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) will invest approximately $24 million into the first year of contracts for the Centers of Excellence for Influenza Research and Response (CEIRR) to aid a network of research sites investigating influenza.
These institutions cover multiple angles: natural history, transmission, and pathogenesis. NIAID seeks to build on this for seven years to provide an international research infrastructure for tackling future flu outbreaks. Although not the primary focus, the network will also dip into SARS-CoV-2 and other emerging viruses with pandemic potential.
The five institutions selected for the network include the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, the University of Pennsylvania, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, Emory University, and the University of Georgia Research Foundation, Inc. Funding for each varies significantly. St. Jude will receive the most, at more than $8.9 million. Icahn will gain more than $6 million and the University of Pennsylvania more than $6.9 million. Emory and the University of Georgia Research Foundation will each receive around $1 million.
Each of these sites will conduct U.S.-based and international studies to evaluate flu-related research areas. Understanding immune responses to vaccination, identifying factors in influenza disease severity, and surveilling the transmission of influenza viruses from animals to humans are all on the table. A major function of the network will also be to have studies ready to go rapidly if emergency research responses are necessary during outbreaks of influenza and other emerging pathogens.
The CEIRR program replaces the Centers of Excellence for Influenza Research and Surveillance, which concluded its work at the end of March.