There are new reports of an outbreak of Ebola virus disease in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This news comes just two years after international control efforts eventually contained an Ebola outbreak in West Africa, though before control was achieved, more than 11,000 people died—the largest known Ebola outbreak in human history. Many questions remain about why some people die from Ebola and others survive. Now, some answers are beginning to emerge thanks to a new detailed analysis of the immune responses of a unique Ebola survivor, a 34-year-old American health-care worker who was critically ill and cared for at the NIH Special Clinical Studies Unit in 2015.
This year, members of the National Academy of Medicine elected four NIH Intramural researchers to their ranks, one of the highest honors in science. Learn a bit about each of their research and follow the links to their IRP profiles for more information.
By testing 6,000 FDA-approved drugs and experimental chemical compounds on Zika-infected human cells in the lab, a team that includes IRP scientists has shown that some existing drugs might be repurposed to fight Zika infection and prevent the virus from harming the developing brain.
As the evolving Zika virus pandemic raises both fears and questions in urgent need of answers, Anthony Fauci, M.D., director of the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and an IRP senior investigator, rose to speak on where the virus stands in relation to humans around the world.
Long recognized as essential to global health, vaccines protect individuals and populations from contagion and the reappearance of eradicated diseases. Vaccination against deadly diseases prevents two to three million deaths worldwide every year, and there are significant economic benefits as well. In the United States, every dollar spent on the routine childhood immunization program saves society more than $16 in future costs.
As the international community continues to seek collaborative approaches to contain and eradicate the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa, we are reminded that these efforts are also an investment in our own public health. Only by defeating a virus at its source can we prevent infectious diseases from spreading to other countries.
This is National Influenza Vaccination Week. Since we are in the midst of flu season, it is an appropriate time to highlight the importance of continuing influenza vaccination. I won’t go into the details of the NIH Foil the Flu campaign, the annual flu vaccination clinic sponsored by the Office of Research Services that provides all NIH staff and contractors with the seasonal flu vaccine for free. Instead, I’d like to highlight the importance of influenza research and a couple of intramural investigators who are tackling interesting questions along the pipeline to creating safe and effective influenza vaccines.