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UGA Expert on Millions in NIH Funding to Develop Universal Flu Vaccine

UGA Today

The University of Georgia could receive up to 130 million dollars to boost research efforts in developing a universal flu vaccine.

UGA signed a contract with the National Institutes of Health for an initial award of $8 million to develop a more advanced vaccine designed to protect against multiple strains of influenza virus in a single dose.

Dr. Ted Ross, Director of the Center for Vaccines and Immunology at UGA, will head the research.

“It’s critical to have this kind of funding because we can do all the things we can do in the lab, but to get to the clinic there’s this gap of lack of funding.," according to Ross. "So this is where the U.S. Government, mainly, the National Institutes of Health, come in and support academic and corporate entities to get these vaccines to the market.”

Ross says UGA will be the lead institution among the NIH’s new CIVICs centers.

“With 14 institutions in the Collaborative Influenza Vaccine Innovation Center (CIVIC), we are one of three of these centers and we are leading our consortia across the United States and around the world.”

Most people infected with influenza will recover, but it can be deadly.

“On average, we have about 40-50 thousand people who will die from Influenza, but 90 percent of those individuals in the U.S. are over the age of 75.”

During the 2017-2018 flu season, for example, influenza killed more than twice the number of people who died in motor vehicle accidents in the U.S. An estimated 48.8 million people were infected, 959,000 were hospitalized and about 79,400 died from influenza, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The funds provided over the seven-year span of the contract will make this the largest award ever received by the University of Georgia.

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