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Posted 09 March 2011

Global network formed in response to resurgence of deadly viruses

Led by co-discoverer of the HIV virus, Dr Robert C Gallo, many of the world’s foremost medical virologists have formed the Global Virus Response Network in response to the resurgence of deadly viruses. 

Initially linking centres of excellence in virology in fifteen countries, the GVRN will serve as a global authority and resource for identification, investigation, intervention and eradication of viral diseases that pose threats to mankind.  Each year millions of people die and millions of children are left orphaned by the cruel scourge of infectious viruses such as HIV, Hepatitis and Polio.

“The only way to fight against threatening global epidemics and pandemics is to pool our knowledge, share our research findings, and create a combined momentum to influence Governments and change public attitudes and responses,” says Professor Bill Hall, University College Dublin, one of the co-founders of the GVRN.

Acting as global first-responders to dangerous viruses, the GVRN will operate as an international clearinghouse to disseminate critical information to governments, health organizations, healthcare practitioners and the public-at-large.

The GVRN will share research on known viruses such as SARS and Dengue haemorrhagic fever which are emerging or re-emerging as epidemic threats as well as on newly emerging viruses.

The network will also improve international capacity for dealing with epidemics and pandemics such as H1N1.  “We will evaluate diagnostic tools, antiviral therapies and vaccines.” Explains Professor Hall.  “The combined research outcome of the network will be translated into clinical and public health practices.”

Of equal importance, the GVRN will work to overcome the critical shortage of trained medical virologists world-wide by providing education, training opportunities and international exchange programmes.

Already UCD provides an international MSc training programme for medical virologists in Vietnam.  Three years ago, with funding assistance from Atlantic Philanthropies and Irish Aid, Professor Hall established a strong collaboration with the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology (NIHE) in Vietnam to form the Ireland Vietnam Blood-Borne Virus Initiative (IVVI).  Their current focus is on HIV and Hepatitis B and C viruses and with the involvement of UCD-trained virologists, they are conducting a large scale epidemiological study of the prevalence and characteristics of blood-borne viruses circulating in the country.

“By creating an international network of world-class centres of excellence in virology directed by highly accomplished experts in human viral diseases, we can utilise our combined strengths to treat and control viruses that threaten human health,” explains Professor Hall.


The GVRN is comprised of a cohesive world-wide network of pre-eminent medical virologists from the following countries:
Argentine Republic; Canada; Commonwealth of Australia; Federal Republic of Germany; Italian Republic; Kingdom of Spain; Kingdom of Sweden; People’s Republic of China; Republic of India; Republic of Ireland; Russian Federation in association with Georgia, Republic of Azerbaijan, Republic of Belarus, Republic of Estonia, Republic of Latvia, Republic of Lithuania, Republic of Uzbekistan and Ukraine; Scotland; State of Israel; The Republic of South Africa; and United States of America

The co-founders of the GVRN are:

  • Dr Robert C. Gallo, Director, Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland, School of Medicine, USA;
  • Professor Bill Hall, Director, National Virus Reference Laboratory, University of College Dublin, Ireland; and
  • Dr Reinhard Kurth, Director, Robert Koch-Institute Berlin, Germany.

(Produced by UCD University Relations)


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