The Viral Hemorrhagic Fever Consortium (VHFC) was established in 2010 as a result of a founding five-year $15 million contract awarded to Tulane University by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which is part of the National Institute of Health. This contract was awarded for Tulane’s ongoing efforts to treat and prevent Lassa Fever, a disease that threatens hundreds of thousands of lives annually in West Africa and is classified as a potential bioterrorism threat.
The consortium has since been expanded to include partners from several other consortia, including The Africa Centre Of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases, The Center for Viral Systems Biology, and The Viral Hemorrhagic Fever Immunotherapeutic Consortium. Medical institutions that are part of VHFC include Kenema Government Hospital, Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, and various other partners in West Africa. In addition to Tulane University, academic partners include Scripps Research, Harvard University, Redeemer’s University, Broad Institute, and University of Texas Medical Branch, as well as industry partners Zalgen Labs, LLC, and Autoimmune Technologies, LLC.
The goal of the Consortium is to undertand important aspects of the immune response and spread of viral hemorrhagic fevers, including Lassa fever and Ebola virus disease. By understanding key aspects of these diseases, we are hoping to develop new and effective diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines.
Our research has resulted in several landmark studies published in leading journals such Nature, Cell, Science, and New England Journal of Medicine. More importantly, the work from VHFC has resulted in rapid diagnostic platforms for both Lassa fever and Ebola virus disease, which are now in routine use across West Africa. We are also in the late stages of developing novel and highly effective monoclonal cocktail-based therapeutics, as well as several promising vaccine candidates.
Dr. Robert Garry, professor of microbiology and immunology at Tulane University, is the founding director of VHFC, and oversees all the activities of the center, together with Dr. Donald Grant, who is the Chief Physician of the Lassa Fever Program at Kenema Government Hospital.
During the Zika virus outbreak of 2015–16, public health officials scrambled to contain the epidemic and curb the pathogen’s devastating effects on pregnant women. At the same time, scientists around the globe tried to understand the genetics of this mysterious virus....