Pittsburgh's Center for Vaccine Research receives DOD contract

The University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Vaccine Research (CVR) announced Wednesday it was awarded a Department of Defense (DOD) contract worth $7.6 million to conduct research that could lead to countermeasure development against biological threats.

Through this funding, the CVR aims to expedite the development of vaccines and treatments for alphaviruses, a group consisting of viruses that are transmitted through mosquitoes, including eastern, western and Venezuelan equine encephalitis viruses. These potentially lethal diseases have caused periodic outbreaks in the Americas.

"These viruses could be dangerous as bioweapons, so it is important that we work toward developing therapies against them," Amy Hartman, CVR member and assistant professor of infectious diseases, said. "Our goal is to better understand the biological mechanisms through which the virus harms people when it is inhaled, determine the proper timing for giving antiviral medications to people infected with the virus, and test potential therapies so that, if successful, they'll be ready for human clinical trials."

This is not the first time that the center has received DOD funding.

"This type of specialized research to develop therapies and protection against diseases that threaten global health is why Pitt's CVR was created," CVR Director Donald Burke, who serves as the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Jonas Salk Chair in Global Health, said.

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