University Excellence in Respiratory Research

The Respiratory Pathogens Research Center fits squarely in the University’s history of protecting people against respiratory threats. Among the other accomplishments or resources:

  • The New York Influenza Center of Excellence, one of five national centers established by NIH in 2007 to study influenza, and to try to prevent and prepare for flu pandemics. This University center is led by John Treanor, M.D., who was awarded $29 million to create the center – previously the largest NIH contract awarded to a Medical Center researcher.
  • Respiratory syncytial virus

    Respiratory syncytial virus (Courtesy of CDC)

  • The Vaccine Research Unit, which has played a crucial role protecting people against threats like flu, bird flu, whooping cough, and other diseases. Indeed, Treanor led the nationwide study that resulted in the nation’s first approved vaccine against bird flu. Currently the unit has a $15.5 million agreement with NIH to study live vaccines aimed at variants of flu that might occur. This work occurs at the FEVUR – the Facility for the Evaluation of Viruses at UR.
  • The Center for Biodefense Immune Modeling, which endeavors to apply computational and mathematical modeling to better understand the immune response to influenza infection and vaccination, and is led by Martin Zand, M.D., Ph.D., and Hulin Wu, Ph.D. This center was established with a $10 million award in 2004, and renewed for five more years in 2009.
  • Medical Center researchers helped develop surfactant technology that gives life to a majority of children born extremely prematurely. Fifty years ago, about 90 percent of infants who weighed less than about 1.5 pounds died, often from acute respiratory distress syndrome caused by the inability of their immature lungs to function properly. Today, roughly 90 percent of those preemies live. Contributing to the difference was the successful development at Rochester of lung surfactant. Rochester researchers were the first to administer lung surfactant to premature infants, dramatically improving their survival rates.
  • Medical Center researchers ushered in a renaissance of vaccine development nationwide with their creation of a new type of vaccine known as a conjugate vaccine 30 years ago. That work resulted in two commercial vaccines, one of which has dramatically curbed the number of infections that cause pneumonia as well as ear infections and meningitis in children.