Public Release: 

Global Virus Network to host Jan. 27 webinar for businesses on Chikungunya outbreak in the Americas

Top virologists to discuss current status and future of outbreak, implications for businesses, and the latest research on drug/vaccine development

Global Virus Network

The Global Virus Network (GVN), a coalition of the world's leading medical virologists working together to prevent illness and death from viral disease, will host a webinar for business leaders on Tuesday, January 27, 2015 at 1pm EST to discuss the ongoing outbreak of Chikungunya in the Americas and its implications for the private sector. GVN Chikungunya Task Force Co-Chairs Dr. Scott Weaver of the Institute of Human Infections and Immunity at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston and Dr. Marc Lecuit of the Pasteur Institute in Paris, France, will update participants on the status of epidemic in the Americas; discuss the likely spread of the virus; describe the latest research on vaccines and therapeutics; and answer questions about the outbreak's potential impact on businesses, travel, and commerce. The webinar is open to the public and is a part of an ongoing series of discussions on key viral threats to the private sector presented under the auspices of GVN's Business Leadership Council.

Chikungunya is a mosquito-borne virus that causes high fever and severe, often chronic joint pain. In late 2013, it emerged in the Americas for the first time and has since spread rapidly throughout the region, infecting more than one million in the Caribbean and North, South, and Central America. Although rarely fatal, Chikungunya is very debilitating and has caused significant workplace disruptions in a number of the countries hardest hit by the outbreak, with large percentages of the labor force missing work due to symptoms related to the virus.

During the Tuesday, January 27, 2015 webinar, the experts will provide updated information on the spread of the Chikungunya outbreak throughout the Americas and address key questions for business leaders such as:

  • What are the international, regional, and local public health responses to the epidemic and what impact are these efforts having on the spread of the virus?

  • What are the chances that business travelers to the affected regions will become infected?

  • What can individuals and companies do to protect themselves from infection?

  • Should your company issue travel restrictions?

  • How might the outbreak affect your company's operations and business interests?

  • What does the current situation mean for employees returning to the United States from the Caribbean and Central and South America?

To register for the Tuesday January 27, 2015 webinar, please visit: http://www.ust-global.com/en/index.php/global-virus-network-january-27-2015

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About the Experts:

Dr. Scott Weaver, MS, PhD, is Director of the Institute for Human Infections and Immunity (IHII), which oversees infectious disease research as the umbrella organization for the Galveston National Laboratory (a GVN Center of Excellence and one of two NIH-funded national biocontainment facilities), the Sealy Center for Vaccine Development, the Center for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Center for Tropical Diseases at the University of Texas Medical Branch. A virologist and vector biologist who studies arthropod-borne diseases and vaccine development, Dr. Weaver's recent studies have focused on chikungunya virus (CHIKV), its history of emergence, vector-adaptive evolution and its genetic constraints. The CHIKV vaccine developed in his laboratory, licensed to Takeda Pharmaceuticals and patented in 19 countries, is in late preclinical evaluation with clinical trials planned for 2016. Dr. Weaver's research has led to over 240 peer-reviewed publications in outstanding journals such as the Lancet, the New England Journal of Medicine, Nature, PNAS, PLoS Pathogens, and Nature Communications, and over 50 reviews and book chapters. Over 35 of his publications are on CHIKV. Dr. Weaver has held leadership positions in several national and international organizations, including currently as councilor for the American Society for Virology and Co-Chair of the Global Virus Network's Chikungunya Task Force.

Dr. Marc Lecuit, MD, PhD, is head of the Biology of Infection Unit at Institut Pasteur and Inserm, Professor at the Paris Descartes University, and Deputy Head of the Department of Infectious Diseases and Tropical Medicine at the Necker Enfants malades University Hospital, In Paris-F. He is also Co-Chair of the GVN Chikungunya Task Force. As a scientist and a clinician, Dr. Lecuit's research is focused on deciphering the molecular mechanisms underlying infectious diseases. He has made key contributions using Listeria as a model microorganism. Dr. Lecuit was one of the leading researchers investigating the 2005 Chikungunya outbreak on La Reunion Island, a French overseas department where one third of the population got infected. This work led to the important contributions: (i) the development of an animal model of Chikungunya (PLOS Path), (ii) the identification of the cell and tissue tropisms of CHIKV (PLOS Path), (iii) the understanding of host responses to CHIKV (J Exp Med), (iv) the demonstration of CHIKV species specificity (EMBO Rep), (v) the demonstration of CHIV vertical transmission and of its neurotropism in infected neonates (PLOS Med), (vi) the development of the first therapeutic and preventive strategy on Chikungunya (J Infect Dis), (vii) the demonstration that CHIKV can be transmitted by grafts (J Infect Dis).

About the GVN:

The Global Virus Network (GVN) is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization, comprised of leading medical virologists from more than 20 countries. The GVN's mission is to combat current and emerging pandemic viral threats through international collaborative research, training the next generation of medical virologists, and advocacy. For more information, please visit http://www.gvn.org or contact Nora Grannell, GVN Director of Public Relations, at ngrannell@gvn.org. Follow us on Twitter @GlobalVirusNews

About the GVN Business Leadership Council

The Business Leadership Council (BLC) is a program that links companies with GVN's network of top virus researchers, creating a platform for information exchange to strengthen international viral preparedness and response. Through webinars with leading virologists, analysis of ongoing outbreaks and vaccine/drug development, workshops for business leaders, customized guidance for member companies, and advocacy, the BLC highlights the private sector's role in viral outbreak preparedness and response. BLC Founding Members include FedEx, PhRMA, global technology companies UST Global and CTIS, and biotechnology firms PathSensors, CTD Holdings, and Profectus Biosciences.

For more information about the BLC, please contact BLC Project Director Collin Weinberger at cweinberger@gvn.org. For media inquiries on GVN,

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