NIH establishes Centers for Research in Emerging Infectious Diseases

By Samantha Black, PhD, The Science Advisory Board editor in chief

August 27, 2020 -- The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), has awarded 11 grants for a first-year total value of approximately $17 million to establish the Centers for Research in Emerging Infectious Diseases (CREID).

The focus of the global network will be investigations into how and where viruses and other pathogens emerge from wildlife and spill over to cause disease in people. The NIAID will provide approximately $82 million over five years to support the network.

Each center will involve collaborations with peer institutions in the U.S. and 28 other countries. Research projects will include surveillance studies designed to accomplish the following:

  • Identify previously unknown causes of febrile illnesses in humans.
  • Find the animal sources of viral or other disease-causing pathogens.
  • Determine what genetic or other changes make these pathogens capable of infecting humans.

Investigators will also develop reagents and diagnostic assays to improve detection of emerging pathogens and study human immune responses to new or emerging infectious agents.

Each center will focus efforts on one or more regions of the world. For example, centers in Central and South America will focus on arthropod-borne viruses (arboviruses), including the ones that cause Zika virus, chikungunya, and dengue. Those in East and Central Africa will focus on Rift Valley fever virus and the coronavirus that causes Middle East respiratory syndrome. Those in West Africa will study arboviruses, Ebola virus, and Lassa virus. In Asia and Southeast Asia, investigators will conduct research on coronaviruses and arboviruses.

In every region, researchers will be prepared to study any newly emerging pathogen, called "pathogen X."

RTI International in Research Triangle Park, NC, in collaboration with Duke University, will fund a CREID Coordinating Center. This center will support network-wide activities such as data management, outbreak research response, and quality control for biospecimens, assays, and reagents.

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