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Vaccine Unit Receives $13.9 Million to Continue Studies

Monday, August 26, 2002

Nearly every new vaccine of the last 30 years has first passed muster at the University of Rochester Medical Center, where physicians and nurses are part of an elite national network of medical institutions that tests new vaccines and treatments for infectious diseases.

The University's formal role as protector against some of nature's most virulent diseases - including smallpox, flu, pneumonia, and even the common cold - will continue for at least five more years. The medical center's Vaccine Treatment and Evaluation Unit, or VTEU, will receive $13.9 million from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) to continue its studies through May 2007.

The VTEU is part of a network of seven institutions established by the Federal government to respond to national needs in the area of infectious disease. Oftentimes this entails testing new and promising vaccines or treatments for diseases or illnesses like the flu, whooping cough, pneumonia, malaria and tuberculosis.

More recently the network has played a crucial role in the nation's preparations against a possible bioterrorism attack or outbreak of disease. Last year, in the wake of the Sept. 11 tragedy, the University was one of four sites to carry out a study that made it possible to immediately protect millions more people against smallpox using existing vaccine stocks.

Studies currently underway or likely in the near future will target pneumonia, genital herpes, flu, and cold viruses. Rochester has also been chosen as the site for an in-depth study of thimerosal, a common vaccine preservative that contains tiny amounts of mercury.

"We're proud to play an important role protecting the health of this nation's citizens," says John Treanor, M.D., associate professor of medicine and director of the unit. "The vaccine units are a terrific example of how government, academia, and industry can cooperate to evaluate especially promising new approaches for controlling infectious diseases."

 In addition to the University of Rochester Medical Center, other institutions that are part of the NIH network are Baylor, St. Louis University, University of California at Los Angeles, University of Cincinnati, University of Maryland, and Vanderbilt.

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