The Global Virus Network (GVN) and the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) announced on the 29th of May 2018 the induction of the Uganda Virus Research Institute as GVN’s newest Center of Excellence. The GVN represents 41 Centers of Excellence and 7 affiliates in 26 countries and comprises foremost experts in every class of virus causing disease in humans.
The announcement was made by Prof. Robert Gallo, MD, co-founder and scientific director of the Global Virus Network, Prof. Pontiano Kaleebu, PhD, MBChB, director of UVRI and director of the Medical Research Council/ Uganda Virus Research Institute and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine Uganda Research Unit, and Prof. Christian Bréchot, MD, PhD, president of the Global Virus Network. Prof. Kaleebu is currently the director of UVRI’s GVN Center of Excellence. “We are pleased to grow our reach in Africa, and look forward to working with Prof. Kaleebu and UVRI, particularly on emerging and re-emerging viruses,” said Gallo, also The Homer and Martha Gudelsky Distinguished Professor in Medicine and co-founder and director of the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, a GVN Center of Excellence. “My colleagues and I felt strongly that UVRI would contribute greatly to the depth of the GVN, not only in its significant expertise but to Uganda’s surrounding region.”
UVRI is internationally recognized for research on arboviruses, HIV infection, and emerging and re-emerging infections. The Institute provides routine surveillance of arboviral infections and their vectors, including epidemic outbreak investigations and research, and it contributes knowledge on the evolving HIV epidemic, innovative health care options, including treatment and prevention, and, studies on HIV vaccine research and development. UVRI’s mandate includes control of vector-borne diseases, such as Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers (VHFs), surveillance of viral diseases at the human and wild animal interface, and, mapping of human and animal populations at risk of viral infections. The Institute is also involved in surveillance and research on vaccine-preventable diseases, including enteroviruses, with a focus on polio, rotaviruses, measles, and measles-like illnesses such as rubella. “We are very excited to join this international community of medical virologists,” said Prof. Kaleebu. “We are hopeful this will provide our Institute and its scientists better opportunities to fulfil the mandate to conduct research and surveillance into viral diseases in order to promote a healthy and productive life, but also to strengthen research capacity.”
“This partnership recognizes the scientific and public health impact of UVRI and is an important step for the development of the GVN in Africa,” said Bréchot. “The partnership also builds upon GVN’s difficult and necessary work in merging the efforts of French, English, and Portuguese-speaking scientific and medical communities in Africa and other regions of the world.”
UVRI was established in 1936 by the Rockefeller Foundation to study the transmission of Yellow Fever. Before being renamed UVRI, the Institute’s founding name was the Yellow Fever Research Institute, and later the East African Virus Research Institute, when new viruses such as West Nile, Semliki Forest, Zika and Bunyamwera were first isolated at this Institute. Currently, UVRI hosts many national and regional reference laboratories including the national reference laboratories for HIV testing and quality assurance, the HIV drug resistance national and regional reference laboratory, the national and regional reference laboratory for the Expanded Programme on Immunization, and, viral heamorrhagic fever national laboratories. Recently, UVRI was assessed to become the World Health Organization (WHO) Yellow fever reference laboratory.
The GVN is a global authority and resource for the identification and investigation, interpretation and explanation, control and suppression, of viral diseases posing threats to mankind. It enhances the international capacity for reactive, proactive and interactive activities that address mankind-threatening viruses and addresses a global need for coordinated virology training through scholarly exchange programs for recruiting and training young scientists in medical virology. The GVN also serves as a resource to governments and international organizations seeking advice about viral disease threats, prevention or response strategies, and GVN advocates for research and training on virus infections and their many disease manifestations.
The Global Virus Network (GVN) is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization, comprised of leading medical virologists from 26 countries. The GVN’s mission is to combat current and emerging pandemic viral threats through international collaborative research, training the next generation of medical virologists, and advocacy. For more information, please visit www.gvn.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter @GlobalVirusNews.
Proff Pontiano Kaleebu Director UVRI