University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine Establishes Institute for Infectious and Zoonotic Diseases | News

PHILADELPHIA, Oct 26, 2021 / PRNewswire-PRWeb / – The world’s vulnerability to disease signals that University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine (Penn Vet) establishes the Institute for Infectious and Zoonotic Diseases (IIZD) to combat emerging and recurring zoonotic and vector-borne diseases with the goal of promoting innovation in disease surveillance, treatment and vaccine development.

With 75% of all emerging infectious diseases being zoonotic, there is an alarming and urgent need for the early detection and prevention of these threats. The new institute will rapidly expand research on infectious agents and bring together Penn Vet’s extensive bank to combat new or recurring diseases. The institute will have a special focus on diseases within the Northeast United States. With four major ports of entry and a population of more than 64 million people, the region is extremely susceptible to disease spillage between animals and humans; and about rural, rural, suburban, and urban landscapes.

The institute mobilized 30 Penn Vet faculty, 110 researchers and Penn affiliated faculty to expand the understanding of viral, bacterial and parasitic pathogens; Vector biology; Antimicrobial resistance; Immune reaction; the role of wildlife and the environment; as well as antiviral drugs and vaccines. The Institute’s new Martin and Pamela Winter Infectious Disease Fellowship will support PhD students focusing on infectious diseases in animals and humans; and the institute’s pilot grant program will fund research that supports infection diagnosis, surveillance, or treatments.

The institute is headed by Christopher Hunter, PhD, Mindy Halikman Heyer Distinguished Professor of Pathobiology, who advanced the understanding of cytokine networks in the regulation of immune responses to inflammation and infection.

“Public awareness of infectious diseases has never been higher; the COVID pandemic has made it clear that it is imperative to broaden our focus to local and global infectious diseases, ”said Hunter. “This institute represents an unwavering commitment to protecting the population from deadly threats to animal and human health such as rabies, West Nile virus, Lyme disease and COVID-19.”

“We have one of the largest zoonosis programs in the world. Bringing this expertise to bear on regional disease outbreaks gives us a significant geographic advantage in containing health risks that are literally in our own backyard, ”said Andrew Hoffmann, DVM, DVSc, DACVIM, Gilbert S. Kahn Dean of Veterinary Medicine. “The institute will enable us to integrate communications with our veterinary health networks, respond in real time to the effects of disease, and truly transform public health for the communities and economies we serve.”

The institute’s core executive team, led by Hunter as inaugural director, includes De’Broski Herbert, PhD; Lisa Murphy, VMD; Dan Beiting, PhD; and Julie Ellis, Dr. The team will provide an ongoing source of inclusive leadership and coordination for the institute’s research and outreach, educational priorities, and disease response.

To learn more about the new Institute for Infectious and Zoonotic Diseases, visit

Media contact

Martin Hackett, University of Pennsylvania, +1 2158981475,

SOURCE University of Pennsylvania

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