Overview

  • Bacillus anthracis spores seen under phase contrast microscopy.

    Bacillus anthracis spores seen under phase contrast microscopy. Photo courtesy of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • Bacillus anthracis bacteria using Gram-stain technique

    A photomicrograph of Bacillus anthracis bacteria using Gram-stain technique. Photo courtesy of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • Bacillus anthracis taken from the peritoneum using a Hiss capsule stain.

    This illustration depicts Bacillus anthracis taken from the peritoneum using a Hiss capsule stain. Photo courtesy of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • Confocal micrograph of Bacillus anthracis.

    Confocal micrograph of Bacillus anthracis. Photo courtesy of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • Highly magnified at 310,000X, this negative-stained transmission electron micrograph (TEM) depicted a smallpox (variola) virus particle

    Highly magnified at 310,000X, this negative-stained transmission electron micrograph (TEM) depicted a smallpox (variola) virus particle, or a single “virion”. Variola is a double-stranded DNA virus in the genus, Orthopoxvirus. The virus enters the body via the oropharynx, or respiratory mucosa, spreads systemically, and eventually localizes in small blood vessels of the dermis, which is the layer of skin located below the more superficial epidermis. Photo courtesy of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • The tip of a bifurcated needle used to vaccinate individuals with the smallpox vaccine.

    The tip of a bifurcated needle used to vaccinate individuals with the smallpox vaccine. Photo courtesy of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • A transmission electron micrograph of a tissue section containing variola viruses.

    A transmission electron micrograph of a tissue section containing variola viruses. Photo courtesy of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • Colorized transmission electron micrograph of Avian influenza A H5N1 viruses (seen in gold) grown in MDCK cells (seen in green).

    Colorized transmission electron micrograph of Avian influenza A H5N1 viruses (seen in gold) grown in MDCK cells (seen in green). Photo courtesy of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The mission envisioned for this program is to develop new knowledge with the goal of directly applying this knowledge to the diagnosis, pathogenesis, prevention, and treatment of both biologic agents of mass destruction and other human viral infections.

While history already informs us that infectious diseases are and have been the most prominent causes of morbidity and mortality throughout the world, scientists and physicians have begun to realize the enormous impact of acute and chronic viral infections on human health and well-being. The impact of HIV, Hepatitis B and C, Human papillomavirus, and Influenza alone are staggering, amounting to over several million deaths worldwide each year. In addition, the new world in which we live recognizes the lurking concern of existing and re-engineered viruses harnessed for bioterrorism – and the corresponding possibility of adversely impacting our economic infrastructure and/or producing illness or death in significant numbers of our population. For these reasons new efforts toward research into the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of smallpox, anthrax, plague, tularemia, and hemorrhagic fever viruses is imperative. In addition the tools of molecular biology, genomics, proteomics, and bioinformatics suggest that the field of virology is likely to explode during the 21st century as physicians and scientists increasingly become aware of and convinced that many diseases plaguing humankind may be viral in origin – malignancies, neurological, and cardiovascular diseases as examples. Finally, the aging of our population, and the concomitant age-related impairment in immunity, also increases the importance of understanding viral pathogenesis.

Mission

To build an outstanding extramurally funded research program in immunovirology and biodefense.

Vision

To establish, build, and sustain an extramurally-funded new research program dedicated to the discovery and application of new knowledge in the diagnosis, understanding, prevention, and treatment of viral-induced illness and the prevention of bioterrorism by the use of biologic agents of mass destruction.

Goals

  • Establish a program dedicated to the discovery and application of new knowledge in the diagnosis, understanding, prevention, and treatment of viral-induced illnesses and bioterrorism.
  • Develop independent, extramural support for the program.
  • Produce new knowledge directly applicable to both maintaining and improving human health.