Penn Medicine awarded nearly $7 million to study influenza viruses

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, has selected Penn Medicine as one of five sites across the country to serve as a Center of Excellence for Influenza Research and Response (CEIRR), with the goal of better understanding influenza viruses around the world along with learning about the viral strains that have the potential to cause pandemics. Penn Medicine has been awarded nearly $7 million in first-year funding. The contract is expected to be supported for six additional years.

The CEIRR contracts are a major funding mechanism for flu research in the Unites States. Scott Hensley, a professor of microbiology at the Perelman School of Medicine, will serve as Penn’s CEIRR program director.

“This is an opportunity for Penn Medicine to become a major hub for influenza research,” Hensley says. “This contract will allow us to lead cutting-edge studies that have the potential to improve the seasonal flu vaccine that millions of people receive every year, and to be better prepared for the next flu pandemic.”

NIAID launched the first network of this kind in 2007, known then as Centers of Excellence for Influenza Research and Surveillance (CEIRS), awarding contracts every seven years for 14 years. Investigators in the CEIRR network will conduct domestic and international influenza surveillance studies with an emphasis on rapid characterization of viruses that have the potential to cause pandemics.

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