Nov. 8, 2007
UI receives $23.7 million contract to conduct vaccine research
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has awarded the University of Iowa a seven-year, $23.7 million contract to conduct clinical trials of promising vaccines and therapies for infectious diseases.
The UI was one of eight sites nationwide selected to serve as Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Units (VTEUs), responsible for testing vaccines in specific populations and bolstering NIAID's ability to direct clinical research to quickly respond to public health needs. Other VETU contracts were awarded to medical centers in Atlanta, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Houston, Nashville, Seattle and St. Louis.
Patricia Winokur, M.D., an associate professor of internal medicine in the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, infectious diseases specialist at UI Hospitals and Clinics, and researcher and staff physician at the Veterans Affairs Iowa City Health Care System, is the principal investigator for the project. She said the UI center will continue to conduct clinical trials on traditional flu vaccines that are developed each year as well as flu vaccines with new adjuvants -- chemicals or ingredients that help boost a person's immune system response.
The UI and other VTEU sites also will study vaccines related to emerging public health issues. Winokur noted that she and her UI colleagues have been involved in NIH-led studies testing new smallpox vaccines as well as vaccines for H5N1 avian influenza.
"The ability to develop and test vaccines in response to emerging diseases or biochemical agents is always important, and it will be a key component of the consortium," Winokur said. "Obviously, NIH will take the lead in establishing the key targets from a national health perspective, but this partnership strengthens our ability to respond rapidly and efficiently."
A strong track record of enrolling clinical studies participants and obtaining reliable, high quality data were key considerations in the UI being named a VTEU site, Winokur said, but she also pointed to the support provided by Iowans who take part in these trials.
"We've had success with several studies involving geriatric populations but we've also conducted trials involving young adults," Winokur said. "Some of our study participants come to Iowa City from as far away as the Quad Cities or even Ames. To me, that is a reflection of our state's work ethic and character. It may sound like a cliché, but Iowans are responsible, they're committed, and they see the value of this type of research effort. They want to help."
NOTE TO EDITORS: A NIAID news release is available online at http://www3.niaid.nih.gov/news/newsreleases/2007/vteu07.htm.
STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Science Relations, 5139 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1178
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