NIH Awards The University of Georgia Up to $130 Million for Flu Vaccine

September 30, 2019

The project will focus on the development of an influenza vaccine that protects against multiple strains of the influenza virus in a single dose.

The University of Georgia (UGA) announced it has signed an $8 million contract with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for the development of an influenza vaccine that protects against multiple strains of the influenza virus in a single dose. The total funding of the project has the potential to reach up to $130 million over seven years, making it the largest award ever received by UGA, according to a Sept. 30, 2019 press release.

The project will be led by Ted M. Ross, Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar of Infectious Diseases in UGA’s College of Veterinary Medicine and director of UGA’s Center for Vaccines and Immunology, in collaboration with Dr. Stacey Schultz-Cherry, an infectious disease expert at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Together, they will lead a team of clinicians, immunologists, virologists, data managers, and statisticians to identify vaccines candidates through a computational algorithm designed to analyze all of the genetic versions of a particular flu type and bundle the results into a single molecule, according to the release. 

“The main goal of our project is to identify vaccines that are broadly protective, meaning that they will protect people against most of the versions of the influenza virus that infect humans,” Ross said in the press release. “But we are particularly interested in developing a vaccine that protects the most vulnerable people in our population, including children, the elderly, or people with weakened immune systems.”

Additionally, UGA faculty will head one of NIH’s Collaborative Influenza Vaccine Innovation Centers with 14 other universities and research institutes to test and create new seasonal flu vaccines. 

“As we continue to build the research enterprise at the University of Georgia, we are increasing the ability of our faculty to make a profound impact on the world,” said Jere W. Morehead, president, UGA, in the press release. “UGA’s investments in biomedical sciences, particularly in the area of infectious diseases, make us eminently qualified to be part of this national initiative.”

The initial base budget of $8 million for the first year of work will begin in 2019 and, with NIH approval, the project will continue to be awarded the $8 million every year for seven years for up to a total of $130 million. 

Source: The University of Georgia