The award – worth $7.1 million per year – supports basic and translational research on emerging infectious diseases and defenses against microbial agents of bioterrorism. More than 50 investigators, research staff and administrative personnel will be funded.
Headed by Dr. P. Frederick Sparling, Distinguished Professor of Medicine in the UNC School of Medicine, the SERCEB consortium includes Duke University, Emory University, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the University of Florida, Vanderbilt University and several affiliate universities and research institutes across the Southeast.
The center aims to discover new drugs or vaccines for emerging infectious diseases, or microbes that might be used by bioterrorists.
Current research includes efforts to find a vaccine for dengue fever; understand the workings of chikungunya virus; discover how coronaviruses such as the one that causes SARS jump from animals to people; and developing new therapies for influenza viruses. Other projects include studying the development of vaccines or therapeutic drugs for plague, an ancient disease which is also a potential agent of bioterrorism, and investigating how the tularemia bacterium – another potential bioterrorism agent – causes infection.
The center also supports programs designed to develop new scientific ideas and to attract new investigators interested in emerging disease and biodefense research.