UTMB named collaborating center for research on vaccines

The University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) at Galveston announced on Friday that it recently received an international designation from the World Health Organization enabling the university to lead emerging disease vaccine efforts.

UTMB's Sealy Center for Vaccine Development was named a WHO Collaborating Center for Vaccine Research, Evaluation and Training on Emerging Infectious Diseases. The school was just the second in the Western Hemisphere to receive the designation after the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The designation means that experts from UTMB will collaborate with international experts to facilitate vaccine research for important diseases like Ebola virus.

"UTMB's top-tier expertise in vaccine development is acknowledged among scientists across the globe," Joachim Hombach, the co-director of the Global Vaccine and Immunization Research Forum, said. "Especially regarding emerging infectious diseases that represent a significant cause of suffering and death, and impose an enormous financial burden on society, UTMB is clearly recognized as one of the most important international leaders in the vaccine development world."

UTMB is the only university in the U.S. with a completely operational biosafety level 4 (BSL-4) containment facility, the Galveston National Laboratory.

"UTMB fills a critical role at the intersection of biocontainment and emerging diseases and the regulatory hurdles and processes you have to go through to get product approval even in the case of urgent, unmet needs," David Beasley, the associate director of UTMB's WHO Collaborating Center for Vaccine Research, said.

UTMB's responsibilities will include tracking and analyzing the vaccine pipeline against emerging diseases, researching the development of vaccines against emerging infectious diseases and providing training for future vaccine investigators.