CEEZAD director Richt helps organize international conference on West African Ebola virus
Thursday, March 5, 2015
MANHATTAN — A faculty member from Kansas State University is one of four organizers of a national conference to review the status of Ebola viruses and potential vaccines in Washington, D.C., from March 25-29.
Jürgen Richt, regents distinguished professor and a Kansas Bioscience Authority eminent scholar, is the director of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases, or CEEZAD, at the university. He is helping organize the seventh International Symposium on Filoviruses, which will focus on issues related to the West Ebola virus following a deadly outbreak in Sierra Leone and Liberia in late summer and early fall 2014.
"We are interested in discussing the lessons that have been learned and mitigation strategies for any future outbreaks," Richt said. "As the director of a center of excellence at Kansas State University, we have to be aware of what's happening in the world with diseases that may transmit from animals to humans."
Richt said the conference will include scientific presentations on outbreak overviews and responses. Participants from government agencies responsible for public health, industry representatives working in vaccine development, and representatives from scientific funding agencies will be available to talk about funding opportunities for researchers.
"Eventually the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility, or NBAF, a biosafety level-4 laboratory, will be built in Manhattan where this type of research will be conducted on a regular basis," Richt said. "It is good for us to learn about the research that is being done, as well as the level and status of science, by being involved in this conference."
Richt collaborated on a relevant vaccinology project that was published recently.
"We tested a vesicular stomatitis virus vector expressing Ebola virus glycoprotein for safety in pigs," he said.
In addition to Richt helping organize the conference, Kansas State University's Caterina Scoglio, professor of electrical and computer engineering, will present research being conducted with CEEZAD. Scoglio is the principal investigator on the project "Effectiveness of contact tracing for detection of Ebola risk during early introduction of the virus within the USA." Her work is funded by a National Science Foundation RAPID grant.
Richt said that CEEZAD is helping sponsor some of conference participants.
"Our sponsorship will be used to bring in doctors, caretakers and scientists from West Africa," Richt said. "We hope this forum will help people understand the status quo of the science and where West Africa is at the moment — what went wrong and how to prevent it the next time. We will also have an update on mitigation strategies, diagnostics, therapeutics and where are we with vaccines and clinical trials."
To learn more about the seventh International Symposium on Filoviruses, visit the conference website at http://www.filovirus2015.com.