UC Berkeley School of Public Health researchers awarded $7.78 million for new arboviral disease center

Drs. Eva Harris and Josefina Coloma to launch the Asian and American Center for Arbovirus Research and Enhanced Surveillance at UC Berkeley

Drs. Eva Harris and Josefina Coloma of the Division of Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health have been awarded a grant for $7.78 million dollar over 5 years from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to launch the Asian and American Center for Arbovirus Research and Enhanced Surveillance (A2CARES; 1U01AI151788).

This new center is part of the Centers for Research in Emerging Infectious Diseases (CREID), a coordinated network of 10 centers in regions around the globe where emerging and re-emerging infectious disease outbreaks are likely to occur. Within this network, multidisciplinary teams of investigators will conduct pathogen/host surveillance; study pathogen transmission, pathogenesis and immunologic responses in the host; and develop reagents and diagnostic assays for improved detection of important emerging pathogens and their vectors.

Research Triangle Institute (RTI), a nonprofit research organization with regional and project offices in over 75 countries, and Duke University, home to the Duke Human Vaccine Institute, will serve as the CREID Coordination Center (RTI/Duke CC). For more information, visit creid-network.org.

A2CARES is a consortium of world-renowned investigators in arbovirology, epidemiology, immunology, viral diagnostics, phylogenetics, and clinical research in Nicaragua, Ecuador, Sri Lanka, UK, and the US. Its overarching goal is to develop an interconnected network of clinical and laboratory sites to provide the foundation for research programs, compare arboviral diseases across geographic regions, develop and implement cutting-edge molecular and serological testing methods, and respond efficiently and effectively to new disease outbreaks. “This is a very timely network of consortia needed to support the global response and investigation of new and existing infectious diseases; our team has been working together for decades and is excited and well-prepared to take on the challenge,” says Dr. Harris

The consortium leverages research infrastructure and expertise in long-term cohort and hospital-based studies in Nicaragua, Ecuador, Sri Lanka. With three decades of collaborative international research, and over 200 joint publications, A2CARES investigators have extensive experience in preparing for and responding to outbreaks working closely with local and international health authorities and NIAID.

The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the capacity of novel human pathogens to emerge rapidly and cause widespread epidemics with new, and potentially severe, clinical outcomes. The current pandemic emphasizes the urgent need to put in place flexible and coordinated systems that can quickly respond to the emergence of pathogens and provide high-quality clinical data and specimens for multidisciplinary research efforts.  A2CARES and CREID will lower the future global risk from new viruses by creating global capacity to respond to these threats.

Partner institutions and key collaborators in A2CARES include, among others:

  • Eva Harris and Josefina Coloma at the University of California, Berkeley
  • Aravinda de Silva at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  • Aubree Gordon and Joseph Eisenberg at the University of Michigan
  • Leah Katzelnick at the National Institutes of Health
  • Jesse Waggonner at Emory University
  • Neelika Malavige at the Centre for Dengue Research, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka
  • Angel Balmaseda at Sustainable Sciences Institute, Nicaragua
  • David Parajon at AMOS Health and Hope, Nicaragua
  • Gabriel Trueba at San Francisco de Quito University, Ecuador
  • Varsovia Cevallos at CIREV, National Health Research Institute INSPI, Ecuador
  • Nuno Faria at Imperial College London, Oxford University, United Kingdom
  • Shannon Bennett at the California Academy of Sciences
  • Ian Lipkin at Columbia University

People of BPH found in this article include: