The University of Wisconsin-Madison Global Health Institute (GHI) has been named a Center of Excellence in the Global Virus Network (GVN). Tony Goldberg and Yoshi Kawaoka, professors in the UW School of Veterinary Medicine Department of Pathobiological Sciences, will co-direct the new center.
The Global Virus Network is an international consortium of 48 Centers of Excellence and seven Affiliates in 29 countries worldwide, working collaboratively to train the next generation, advance knowledge about how to identify and diagnose pandemic viruses, mitigate and control how such viruses spread and make us sick, as well as develop drugs, vaccines and treatments to combat them.
“UW-Madison’s historical and current preeminence in virology make us a natural fit for GVN,” says Goldberg.
In a press release, GVN co-founder Robert Gallo noted, “UW-Madison is an impressive institution with a number of top virologists who will contribute to GVN’s overall research and translational programs and global reach.”
The Global Health Institute will serve as the contact unit for the new Center of Excellence. “GHI’s position as an umbrella unit across campus makes it ideally suited to coordinate this effort and to join GVN’s efforts to respond rapidly to global viral threats,” says Goldberg, who also serves as GHI associate director.
Virology research at UW-Madison includes studies of agents infecting humans, animals and plants, including highly pathogenic viruses such as the Ebola virus; viruses with pandemic potential such as influenza, dengue and Zika; viruses that cause human cancer; and the biochemistry of host-virus interaction.
UW-Madison has specific strengths in emerging viral pathogens and zoonoses, including rapid detection and characterization of novel viral agents, the development of animal models (especially primates) and the development of countermeasures such as vaccines and therapeutics. The center will work closely with colleagues at the Colombia-Wisconsin One-Health Consortium, also a GVN Center of Excellence, led by Jorge Osorio, a UW School of Veterinary Medicine professor of pathobiological sciences.
“With our new GVN membership, and in partnership with Dr. Osorio, we will expand the range of global training opportunities for our graduate students as well as provide the GVN with expertise in diverse viral systems of global importance and highly specialized methodologies,” Goldberg and Kawaoka say. “We especially look forward to strengthening our international training opportunities and forging new scientific collaborations with members of the GVN.”
Several other virologists at UW-Madison are GVN contacts for their respective units and showcase the deep diversity of virus research on campus. Representatives from the School of Veterinary Medicine include:
- Lyric Bartholomay, director, Midwest Center of Excellence for Vector-Borne Disease (CDC-funded Center). Research in the Bartholomay lab focuses on arboviruses, and in particular invertebrate Immunobiology and innate immune responses to viruses in mosquitoes, ticks, and cultured shrimp.
- Kristen Bernard, president of the American Society for Virology (2019-2020) and Department of Pathobiological Sciences. Research in the Bernard lab focuses on the pathogenesis of arthropod-borne viruses, including West Nile and Zika viruses, using in vitro and in vivo models to understand mechanisms of virulence and attenuation.
- Thomas Friedrich, director of Virology Services, Wisconsin National Primate Research Center. Research in the Friedrich lab focuses on mechanisms by which RNA viruses overcome evolutionary barriers to emerge and cause disease, with an emphasis on global campaigns against pandemic influenza, Zika and AIDS.
- Jorge Osorio, Department of Pathobiological Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, and co-founder, Inviragen. Research in the Osorio lab focuses on vaccine development and global studies of dengue, Zika, chikungunya, influenza, rabies, west Nile, enteroviruses, monkeypox among other viruses.