|The University of Maryland School of Medicine's Center for Vaccine
Development (CVD) has successfully competed for and received a renewed
contract to conduct basic research and clinical studies of vaccines,
diagnostics, and therapeutics. Support for this work to combat existing
and emerging infectious diseases is provided by the National Institute
of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National
Institutes of Health (NIH).
NIAID has designated the University of Maryland's CVD and
eight other research centers throughout the United States as Vaccine
and Treatment Evaluation Units (VTEUs). Under the 10-year contract,
each institution has the potential to receive funding estimated to be
up to $135 million annually over a seven-year period. New projects will
be awarded during the first seven years.
"The University of Maryland's Center for
Vaccine Development has long been a partner of the federal government
in the clinical evaluation of vaccines. Renewal of our contract is a
testimony to our expertise in helping protect people throughout the
world against diseases that pose significant public health threats,"
says principal investigator Karen Kotloff, MD, professor
of pediatrics and medicine and head of the Division of Infectious Disease and Tropical
Pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
According to Kotloff, the NIAID expanded its required
scope of expertise for a facility to qualify as a VTEU for this most recent contract
competition. "Future projects are likely to use molecular tools that
are now available to design better vaccines and to unmask signals that
lead to immunity, while avoiding side effects," she says. As a result,
the CVD team has augmented its multidisciplinary collaboration with
colleagues at the University of Maryland
Institute for Genome Sciences
School of Pharmacy, both on the
Maryland, Baltimore campus.
The new VTEU contract has more emphasis on international
studies, compared with previous contracts.
emphasis on global health is a great match for the CVD because our
center has a large geographic reach to facilitate clinical studies in
several African and Asian countries as well as Santiago, Chile," says E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA,
vice president for medical affairs at the University of Maryland and
the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor and dean of the
University of Maryland School of Medicine. "The center's domestic and
international staff includes experts in a variety of fields, ranging
from molecular biology and immunology to internal medicine and
pediatrics, to epidemiology and biostatistics, positioning the School
of Medicine to contribute significantly to the development and testing
of novel vaccines and novel vaccine delivery systems."
From its beginnings in the 1970s, under the directorship of Myron Levine, MD, DTPH,
the University of Maryland CVD has been an international leader in
vaccine development at an academic institution. The CVD has made major
contributions to the development of vaccines against a wide range of
infectious diseases including typhoid fever, measles, meningitis,
cholera, dysentery, malaria, and influenza.
"The CVD pioneered the concept of a single center that houses
researchers from numerous scientific disciplines who share the common
aim of studying vaccine development from various perspectives," says
Kotloff. "Under one roof, we have the expertise to study how
infection causes disease, which populations may be most severely
affected, and the responses to an infection that produce immunity. We
also can design and conduct all stages of vaccine development and
testing in people, sometimes leading to licensure.
"A strength of the VTEUs is their ability to rapidly enroll
large numbers of volunteers into trials. This rapid-response capability
is especially important for testing vaccines designed to counteract
emerging public health concerns, such as the vaccine against the 2009
H1N1 influenza virus, which has become a component of the seasonal flu
vaccine. Earlier this month, the VTEUs launched a national,
multicenter trial of a vaccine aimed to prevent an especially virulent
avian influenza virus, H7N9, which emerged in people early in 2013."
In addition to the University of Maryland School of Medicine
in Baltimore, the newly awarded VTEU sites include: Baylor College of
Medicine, Houston; Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical
Center; Duke University, Durham;
Emory University, Atlanta; Group Health Research Institute,
Seattle, Washington; Saint Louis University,
University of Iowa, Iowa City; and Vanderbilt University,