Centers expand global reach of influenza research

July / August 2011 | Volume 10, Issue 4

Researcher in protective hood with latex gloves on holds egg, shines light on it in dark lab, tray full of eggs on counter
Photo courtesy of NIAID

Heightened surveillance will aid
in developing new strategies for
blunting the impact of influenza
outbreaks.

In 2007, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) established the Centers of Excellence for Influenza Research and Surveillance (CEIRS) to expand its worldwide influenza surveillance program and bolster influenza research in key areas, including understanding how the virus causes disease and how the immune system responds to infection with the virus. The goal of the CEIRS program is to provide essential information for the development of public health strategies crucial to both lessening the impact of seasonal influenza and responding to a pandemic.

Following the 2009 H1N1 influenza outbreak, the CEIRS sites quickly began work with the virus. Within four months, they had characterized the virus and provided other essential information. Their research  helped explain how the new influenza virus emerged; its pathogenicity, transmissibility and susceptibility to antiviral agents; and what to expect during recurrences of pandemic influenza virus circulation.

The CEIRS program currently seeks to expand the NIAID influenza virus surveillance program, both internationally and domestically, and to conduct research on:

    1. the prevalence of avian influenza; 
    2. how influenza viruses evolve, adapt, and are transmitted; and
    3. the immunological factors that influence the course of influenza infection.

Some of the five sites will continually monitor international and domestic cases of animal and human influenza to rapidly detect and characterize viruses that may have pandemic potential and to develop pandemic influenza  vaccine candidates. These activities help lay the groundwork for new and improved control measures for emerging and re-emerging influenza viruses.

More Information

This article was adapted from NIAID Global Research: Improving Health in a Changing World [PDF 7M, 24 pages].

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