LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A multi-million dollar grant will help researchers at the University of Louisville work to prevent future outbreaks of COVID-19 and other viruses.
The National Institutes of Health awarded UofL $3.7 million to further innovative research that could help combat future pandemics, according to a press release.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for new antiviral drugs, especially those that could easily be taken by patients at home while their symptoms are still mild,” Anthony Fauci, director of the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said.
The new funding is part of a $577 million effort by the NIH to combat COVID-19 and viruses like it, according to the release.
Infectious disease researcher Donghoon Chung will lead the university's team to learn more about viruses and find a way to stop them from multiplying, potentially stopping their growth before they can become a health emergency.
“Once inside the body, viruses ‘commandeer’ host cells as factories and the viral genome becomes manufacturing instructions on how to make more Zika virus, for example,” said Chung. “The goal is to stop them from successfully copying that genome.”
Fauci says that additional research on viruses with the potential to cause future pandemics could accelerate public health response times.
“Decades of prior research on the structure and vulnerabilities of coronaviruses greatly accelerated our response to the COVID-19 pandemic," he said. "We hope that similar research focused on antivirals will better prepare us for the next pandemic."