We interviewed the Principal Investigators (PIs) responsible for leading each of the CIVICs Centers as part of a two-part interview series. Previously, we learned about the Principal Investigator for the University of Maryland School of Medicine, CIVICs Clinical Core, Dr. Kathleen Neuzil. This article provides an introduction to the University of Maryland School of Medicine, CIVICs Clinical Core from the perspective of Dr. Nauzil.
Tell me the origin story of your Core.
I moved to the Center for Vaccine Development (CVD) 6 years ago. The CVD at the time was famous for their end-to-end model for developing vaccines for bacteria and malaria. My goal for the CVD was to apply that model to viruses, and specifically influenza.
About 4 years ago, we began testing a H5N8 avian pre-pandemic vaccine to be prepared for an emerging virus of pandemic potential. Although there were no cases of H5N8 infecting humans when we started, we wanted to be ready in case it did appear in humans. While we were still working on analyzing the data, cases of H5N8 started being reported in humans in Russia. We were then able to test our serum against that strain of virus.
This example highlights the importance of not waiting for cases to appear in humans before developing vaccines.
Explain the scientific aims of your Core to me, but pretend I’m a high schooler.
We do clinical testing of vaccines in humans to be sure the vaccines are safe, have no side effects, and also that you get a good immune response. Currently, you have to get a flu shot every year, so we are hoping to develop new vaccines that could last for a few years or would cover multiple types of flu with a single vaccine.
If you had to recommend another person from your Core for me to interview, who would it be, and why?
I would recommend interviewing Dr. Marcelo Sztein at the University of Maryland, Baltimore. He is an immunologist and has a completely different skill set and background than me. I believe it would give you the full picture of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, CIVICs Clinical Core (UMSOM CC).