in ,

NIAID Establishes New Global Network to Focus on Spillover Potential of Emerging Diseases

Image: CREID website

The new Centers for Research in Emerging Infectious Diseases (CREID) — comprised of 10 research centers and a coordinating center — is a coordinated network with centers in regions around the globe where emerging and re-emerging infectious disease outbreaks are likely to occur. Multidisciplinary teams of investigators will conduct pathogen/host surveillance, study pathogen transmission, pathogenesis, and immunologic responses in the host, and will develop reagents and diagnostic assays for improved detection of important emerging pathogens and their vectors.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, has awarded 11 grants with a total first-year value of approximately $17 million to establish the Centers for Research in Emerging Infectious Diseases (CREID). The global network will involve multidisciplinary investigations into how and where viruses and other pathogens emerge from wildlife and spillover to cause disease in people. NIAID intends to provide approximately $82 million over 5 years to support the network.

“The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic serves as a potent reminder of the devastation that can be wrought when a new virus infects humans for the first time. The CREID network will enable early warnings of emerging diseases wherever they occur, which will be critical to rapid responses. The knowledge gained through this research will increase our preparedness for future outbreaks.”

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, NIAID Director

Each Center in the network will involve collaborations with peer institutions in the United States and 28 other countries. Research projects will include surveillance studies to identify previously unknown causes of febrile illnesses in humans; find the animal sources of viral or other disease-causing pathogens; and determine what genetic or other changes make these pathogens capable of infecting humans. CREID investigators also will develop reagents and diagnostic assays to improve detection of emerging pathogens and study human immune responses to new or emerging infectious agents. Overall, the breadth of research projects in the CREID network will allow for study of disease spillover in multiple phases of the process: where pathogens first emerge from an animal host; at the borders between wild and more populated areas, where human-to-human transmission occurs; and, finally, in urban areas, where epidemic spread can occur.

An award to RTI International in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, in collaboration with Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, will fund a CREID Coordinating Center. This center will support network-wide activities such as data management, outbreak research response and quality control for biospecimens, assays and reagents. It will also administer a pilot research program for early career investigators. 

“Our ability to support rapid and efficient research response to an emerging infectious disease outbreak is paramount to shortening the duration and reducing morbidity and mortality,” said Donald Brambilla, PhD, Principal Investigator for the Coordinating Center and Senior Research Statistician at RTI International. “By successfully accomplishing our specific aims, the RTI-Duke team will shift the outbreak research response paradigm in support of activities during outbreaks.”

Each Center will focus efforts on one or more regions of the world. In Central and South America, for example, studies will include investigations of several arthropod-borne viruses including the ones that cause Zika virus disease, chikungunya and dengue. In East and Central Africa, focus pathogens will include Rift Valley fever virus and the coronavirus that causes Middle East respiratory syndrome. In West Africa, in addition to arboviruses, projects are slated on Ebola virus and Lassa virus. In Asia and Southeast Asia, investigators will conduct research on coronaviruses and arboviruses. In every region, investigators will be poised to study any newly emerging pathogen, dubbed “pathogen X.”

“During the past six months, we’ve seen the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic across the globe,” said Dr. Tony Moody, Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Duke University and co-Principal Investigator for the CREID CC. “By creating and supporting an infrastructure that allows rapid response to infectious disease outbreaks by researchers and by leveraging what we have learned and are learning from research organizations across the globe, we aim to shorten future outbreaks.”

The following is a list of the Coordinating Center, 10 CREIDs and their respective principal investigators:

Donald Brambilla, Ph.D., RTI International, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina
Tony Moody, M.D., Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, North Carolina
CREID Coordinating Center

Kristian Andersen, Ph.D., Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California
West African Emerging Infectious Disease Research Center (WAEIDRC)
West Africa; 1 U01 AI151812-01

Peter Daszak, Ph.D., EcoHealth Alliance, Inc., New York, New York 
Emerging Infectious Diseases-South East Asia Research Collaboration Hub (EID-SEARCH)
Southeast Asia

Eva Harris, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley
American and Asian Centers for Arboviral Research and Enhanced Surveillance (A2CARES)
Central and South America, South Asia

Christine K. Johnson, VMD, Ph.D., University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine
EpiCenter for Emerging Infectious Disease Intelligence (EEIDI)
Central Africa and South America

M. Kariuki Njenga, DVM. Ph.D., Washington State University, Pullman
Center for Research in Emerging Infectious Diseases-East and Central Africa (CREID-ECA)
East and Central Africa

Anavaj Sakuntabhai, M.D., Ph.D., Institut Pasteur, Paris, France 
Pasteur International Center for Research on Emerging Infectious Diseases (PICREID)
West and Central Africa and Southeast Asia

Nikos Vasilakis, Ph.D., University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston
Coordinating Research on Emerging Arboviral Threats Encompassing the Neotropics (CREATE-NEO)
Central and South America

Wesley C. Van Voorhis, M.D., Ph.D., University of Washington, Seattle
United World Antiviral Research Network (UWARN)
South America, West and South Africa, Middle East, and Asia

David Wang, Ph.D., Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri 
Center for Research in Emerging Infectious Disease-Epidemiology, Surveillance, Pathogenesis (CREID-ESP)
Asia, East Africa

West African Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases (WAC-EID)
West Africa

USAMRIID Scientists Engineer First Lethal Mouse Model for COVID-19

UCLA Study Backs Decontamination of Single-Use N95 Respirators to Mitigate Shortages