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100 million Norwegian kroner for Zika research

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Colourbox.com
Colourbox.com

The research consortium ZIKAlliance is going to receive 100 million kroners (€11.9M) from the European Union's Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme. The Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) is a partner in this consortium.


The grant will fund a three-year project related to the ongoing outbreak of Zika virus infection (ZIKV) in Latin America and the Caribbean.

 “This is a global effort to combat the Zika epidemic that has affected 73 countries and territories worldwide,” says researcher John Pettersson from the Department of Infectious Diseases Epidemiology and Modelling at the NIPH.

Three key objectives

ZIKAlliance brings together a network of scientists from numerous academic disciplines in 18 countries. The aim is to address three questions:

  • What is the impact of Zika virus infection during pregnancy? Have we been successful in proving a link between Zika and microcephaly? The full impact of Zika on mothers and babies remains unknown.
  • What role do natural ecosystems and other factors play in the spread of Zika locally and globally? The scientists will explore whether Zika and related viruses can influence each other in some way. Dengue fever and Chikungunya occur in roughly the same areas as the Zika virus.
  • A central goal in the project is to find new drugs that can control Zika and other related viruses. Moreover, the project will build the overall capacity and preparedness for research ahead of future epidemic threats.

“Although the NIPH is a small partner in this major international research consortium, we will have a central role in the analyses. This includes analyses of how the Zika virus develops and spreads between geographic regions,” says Pettersson who is leading the NIPH research group.

The NIPH is one of 52 partners from 18 countries spread over four continents. The French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (Inserm) is coordinating the consortium. The researchers from the NIPH are John Pettersson from the Department of Infectious Diseases Epidemiology and Modelling, Vegard Eldholm from the Department of Molecular Biology and Åshild Andreassen from the Department of Virology.