UTMB collaborates with Brazil to combat Zika virus

GALVESTON, Texas - The Brazilian Ministry of Health has announced a letter of intent to collaborate with the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston to embark on a partnership to research and develop a Zika virus vaccine.

The collaboration will foster research innovation, cooperation in the field of health and medical sciences and increase an understanding of how to stop the spread of Zika virus.

The flagship initiative of this collaboration will be directed toward the development of joint research efforts to develop a Zika virus vaccine. The partners also intend to work together developing effective diagnostic tools and potential antiviral therapies.

The letter of intent comes after a weeklong visit earlier this month to Galveston by a delegation that included Brazilian scientists and health officials. The visit was coordinated by UTMB professors Mariano A. Garcia-Blanco and Pei-Yong Shi from the department of biochemistry and molecular biology and Robert Tesh from the department of pathology. Brazil's delegation was led by professor Pedro Fernando da Costa Vasconcelos.

For their effort in this alliance Brazil's Ministry of Health has designated the Instituto Evandro Chagas, National Reference Laboratory for Arbovirus as the coordinating entity for this joint effort. The Institute is a collaborating center with the Pan American Health Organization and the World Health Organization.

ABOUT UTMB HEALTH: Texas' first academic health center opened its doors in 1891 and today comprises four health sciences schools, three institutes for advanced study, a research enterprise that includes one of only two national laboratories dedicated to the safe study of infectious threats to human health, a Level 1 Trauma Center and a health system offering a full range of primary and specialized medical services throughout Galveston County and the Texas Gulf Coast region. UTMB Health is a part of the University of Texas System and a member of the Texas Medical Center.

About The Evandro Chagas Institute:  The institute is part of the Secretariat of Health Surveillance of the Brazilian Ministry of Health and works in the areas of biomedical research and public health services. The institute is world-renowned for its research in biological sciences, environment and tropical medicine. For more than seven decades acting in defense of the Brazilian population's quality of life, IEC has been noted for numerous discoveries and has become a world reference as a center of excellence in scientific research. Its body of researchers has been working relentlessly in the struggle to guarantee health care for the Brazilian people, carrying out relevant work and research. IEC is a Collaborating Center of PAHO/WHO for Reference and Research of Arbovirus and is recognized worldwide as leaders in research and innovation.

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