|Scientists from Around the Globe Head to Rochester to Talk Flu|
|Sunday, August 01 2010|
Nearly 200 researchers from around the world have convened in Rochester this week to discuss new insights into flu – from exploring how viruses mutate, to exchanging ideas for designing better vaccines, to weighing prospects for future pandemics.
The three-day meeting, which began Tuesday and runs through Thursday, has lured scientists from locales as distant as Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
The meeting is the fourth annual for the National Institutes of Health’s Centers of Excellence for Influenza Research and Surveillance (CEIRS) consortium, and spotlights work underway in the five designated CEIRS centers across the country. This is the first meeting to be hosted by URMC, whose New York Influenza Center of Excellence (NYICE) was established in 2007 thanks to a seven-year, $26 million NIH contract.
“The NIH has charged its CEIRS centers with the twin goals of helping make seasonal influenza and future influenza pandemics less deadly, said John Treanor, M.D., chief of URMC’s Infectious Disease Division. Treanor co-directs URMC’s center together with David Topham, Ph.D., an associate professor of Microbiology and Immunology.
A mecca for flu research, the Medical Center has enjoyed a fruitful history conducting both basic and clinical investigations. Scientist and clinicians here have played a pivotal role in international efforts to develop an effective response to the most threatening forms of the virus – taking part in studies that address everything from vaccine safety, to the efficacy of booster shots and additives. In 2007, Time Magazine even cited the approval of a bird flu vaccine – key testing of which was led in part by Treanor – as the top medical development of the year. And just this summer, URMC announced receipt of a $15.5 million, five-year NIH contract to conduct live-virus bird flu vaccine trials in a special isolation unit leased from Unity’s St. Mary’s Campus.
“People think we know more about the flu than we actually do,” said Topham. “It’s amazing how little we actually understand. Meetings like this are a critical venue for exchanging insights that grow our body of knowledge.”
The meeting is underway at the Woodcliff Hotel & Spa in Fairport.
As health care reform challenges us to expand health insurance to cover 30 million more Americans – and improve the quality and effectiveness of that care, all on a smaller dime – traditional industry arrangements will only go so far. We sat down with URMC Chief Operating Officer Peter Robinson to make sense of how reform’s new financial incentives are rewriting relationships among players.