Newswise — Robert Gallo, MD, director of the University’s Institute of Human Virology (IHV), has announced that former lieutenant governor of Maryland Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, JD, will chair a coalition of the world’s leading medical virology research centers, co-founded by Gallo to help limit illness and death resulting from viral disease.
The coalition, the Global Virus Network (GVN), is housed at the Institute, which is part of the University’s School of Medicine. “It was fitting for Kathleen to become chair of GVN’s Board of Directors as she has long been a proponent of scientific research and public health,” says Gallo. “She recently stepped down as chair of IHV's Board and remains actively involved in the institute’s leadership.
“Her leadership will contribute greatly to GVN as she will bring together partners including foreign governments, the private sector, and citizens to promote and protect human health through GVN and its many partners,” says Gallo.
The rigorous and worldwide research network, Townsend says, “is the very safety net that we need to protect the health of the world’s citizens from new viral threats.”“To put this safety net in place requires support from governments, the private sector, and citizens,” Townsend says. “I will bring all of these partners together to protect human health through GVN and its many partners.”
The GVN was established by Gallo, Reinhard Kurth, PhD, of the University of Münster in Germany, and William Hall, MD, PhD, of University College Dublin, along with more than 30 other leading medical virologists representing nearly two dozen countries including Argentina, Canada, China, Germany, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Russia (in collaboration with Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, Uzbekistan, and Ukraine), South Africa, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States. This list is growing with several additional GVN centers in formation.
The network’s mandate is to serve as a catalyst between laboratory research and clinical application, as well as to coordinate, support, and promote research that bridges the gap between virus surveillance and virus response. In helping to launch GVN in March, 2011, Gallo said, “The need for the Global Virus Network has never been greater. With the volume and pace of international travel, isolated viral outbreaks become widespread epidemics at much faster rates than they have in the past. Overcrowded conditions in many regions lead to increasingly common jumps of novel viruses from animals to humans. Entirely new kinds of viruses are continually discovered in humans and animals. We are not sufficiently prepared for the next threat.”
Gallo, who is also chair of GVN’s Scientific Leadership Board, announced the addition of nine other new members to the GVN Board of Directors: Lisa Paulsen, president and CEO of the Entertainment Industry Foundation; Romain Murenzi, PhD, MS, executive director of the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World in Trieste, Italy, and former minister of science and technology, Rwanda; G. Steven Burrill, founder and CEO of the global financial services firm Burrill & Company; Salim Abdool Karim, PhD, MS, MM, president of the South African Medical Research Council and director of the Center for the AIDS Program of Research in South Africa at the University of KwaZulu-Natal; Andrew Cheng, MD, PhD, a senior vice president at Gilead Sciences, Inc.; Wang Longde, MS, president of the Chinese Preventive Medicine Association; N. Scott Fine, a principal at Scarsdale Equities; Nicolas De Santis, president and secretary general of the London-based think tank Gold Mercury International; and Raj Shah, MS, chair and CEO of the health informatics company CTIS. The 10 new Board of Directors appointees join founding Board members Tim Moynahan, JD (previously the founding chair), Tony Cernera, PhD, Mathew Evins, and Terry Lierman, MPA, along with Gallo, Kurth, and Hall.