MedGeo Faculty to Lead New CDC Center For Excellence in Vector-Borne Disease
GAINESVILLE – With a $10 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the University of Florida will lead a highly collaborative research program focused on stopping vector-borne diseases such as Zika before they spread farther into the United States.
Key leadership for the Southeast Regional Center of Excellence in Vector-Borne Disease will be provided by Medical Geographers Dr. Gregory Glass – Co-Principal Investigator for Ecological and Insecticide-resistance Models of Tick Vectors in Florida – and Dr. Sadie Ryan – Core Lead and Co-Investigator for Data Management, Biostatistics, and Communications (DMBC). The Center of Excellence (CoE) will be housed at UF’s Emerging Pathogens Institute (EPI), and will be a collaboration between the University of Florida, the University of Miami, Florida International University and the University of South Florida to share research to address the statewide and regional challenge of Zika and other diseases.
“This is a novel approach that integrates laboratory and field studies through intensive modeling of pathogens and their vectors,” Glass said. An important contribution from UF is in mathematical modeling, to quantify how well the field and lab based research solutions work. “This is a massive collaborative effort, leveraging vector-borne disease expertise, data, and modeling, across multiple institutions and partners, to address the urgent needs of VBD management, particularly in the face of Zika”, said Ryan.
The grant is part of nearly $184 million in funding from the CDC to states, territories, local jurisdictions, and universities to support efforts to protect Americans from Zika virus infection and associated adverse health outcomes, including microcephaly and other serious birth defects. These awards are part of the $350 million in funding provided to CDC under the Zika Response and Preparedness Appropriations Act of 2016.
“Zika continues to be a threat to pregnant women,” said CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden. “States, territories, and communities need this CDC funding to fight Zika and protect the next generation of Americans.”