$200 Million Dollar Grant Awarded for Flu Shot Development

University of Maryland School of Medicine intends to develop a universal vaccine to protect against emerging influenza strains

researcher looking thru a microscope

Dean E. Albert Reece, MD, Ph.D., of the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM ) said in a press release that Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health (CVD) has been awarded a contract with total funding up to more than $200 million dollars if all contract options are exercised.

The goal of this contract announced on September 20, 2019, is ‘developing a universal vaccine to protect against emerging influenza strains as well as improvements to current seasonal vaccines.’

This research contract from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) is one of the largest ever awarded to UMSOM.

And, the award includes an initial award of approximately $2.5 million dollars to conduct clinical testing of influenza vaccines.

This award coincides with a new Executive Order issued by President Donald Trump on September 19, 2019, ‘to improve the country’s ability to prepare for a potential outbreak of pandemic flu and to develop enhanced influenza vaccines to protect people against seasonal outbreaks.’

The Trump Administration said ‘it will also work to increase Americans’ access to vaccines by reducing barriers to seasonal flu vaccine services.’

“We want a safe and healthy future for every American family,” said President Trump.

Kathleen Neuzil, MD, MPH, Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics and Director of the CVD, will lead the research which is aimed at testing improved seasonal influenza vaccines and conducting controlled human influenza challenge studies for NIAID's Collaborative Influenza Vaccine Innovation Center (CIVICs) program.

‘For more than 4 decades, CVD has worked domestically and internationally to develop, test and deploy vaccines to prevent and protect against a range of diseases, such as influenza, cholera, typhoid fever, malaria, shigellosis, and other infectious diseases,’ said this UMSOM press release.

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‘Influenza, a contagious respiratory illness, is one of the greatest infectious disease threats to health and well-being.’ 

‘While current vaccines are our best tool to protect against influenza and its complications, the CVD CIVIC will address the urgent need for novel vaccines that provide broad and long-lasting protection.’

“The CIVICs program will address the need to develop and test influenza vaccines that protect against new and emerging strains, and ultimately prevent more disease,” said Dr. Neuzil.

Under Dr. Neuzil’s leadership, CVD has assembled an expert and accomplished team with extensive clinical research experience as well as virology, immunology, and influenza expertise. 

The research includes clinical trials and challenges studies in adults as well as in special populations, such as children, pregnant women, and the elderly.

The disease impacted 43 million people in the U.S. alone during the 2018-2019 season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CIVICs program was jointly developed by NIAID’s Division of Allergy, Immunology and Transplantation and the Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases to advance the development and clinical testing of improved seasonal and universal influenza vaccines that provide durable, broadly cross-protective immunity.