$45 Million Grant to Fight Bioterror, New Diseases

downloadable pdf

The University of Florida and five other Southeastern universities will share a five-year $45 million federal grant to combat bioterrorism threats such as smallpox and emerging diseases such as SARS.

Scientists at the six institutions belonging to the Southeastern Regional Center of Excellence for Emerging Infections and Biodefense will collaborate to develop vaccines, diagnostic tests and treatments for potential bioterrorism agents, said Richard Moyer, a professor in the UF Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology who serves on the consortium’s six-member steering committee.

“I’m very optimistic that many of the threats people are concerned about with respect to bioterrorism will cease to be so in four or five years because we will learn to deal more effectively with them,” said Moyer, who also is the UF College of Medicine senior associate dean for research development.

UF scientists have begun investigations to help create second-generation, novel smallpox vaccines to prevent the virus from entering human cells, and to develop new drugs to prevent the smallpox virus from replicating, Moyer said.

Founded in 2002, the center is one of eight such collaborations nationwide and is known as SERCEB. It will be headquartered at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., and led by Dr. Barton Haynes of the Duke Human Vaccine Institute. Other member institutions are the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Emory University in Atlanta, the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

by Tom Nordlie