We interviewed the Principal Investigators responsible for leading each of the CIVICs Centers as part of a two-part interview series. Previously, we learned about the Principal Investigator at the Duke CIVICs Clinical Core, Dr. Chip Walter. This article provides an introduction to the Duke CIVICs Clinical Core from the perspective of Dr. Chip Walter.
If you had to make an elevator pitch for CIVICs, what would you say?
The importance of the CIVICs Network is the work done to develop an improved influenza vaccine that has both broader and more durable protection for the populations.
Tell me the origin story of your Center.
Our origin goes back to the 1990’s with Dr. Sam Katz and Dr. Cathy Wilfert. Both of them had backgrounds in vaccine developments for measles and Haemophilus influenzae type B, respectively. When I joined, I worked with Dr. Dennis Clements and took over from Dr. Wilfert’s research. We started working on influenza research, and it grew from there.
Explain the scientific aims of your Center to me, but pretend I’m a high schooler.
Our core works to test new flu vaccines that look promising in the research lab. We also implement different influenza infection models to better understand the effects of influenza infection on the body and to test the protective effect of new influenza vaccines.
Tell me about an exciting recent discovery from your CIVICs Center.
One of the most exciting pieces of data comes from our human challenge study. The Human challenge study is looking at the Texas H3N2 influenza, and our preliminary observations are promising. We have also been developing our biorepository, and we are excited for the resource that will be for our work.
If you had to recommend another person from your Center for me to interview, who would it be, and why?
I would recommend interviewing Dr. Chris Woods. Dr. Woods has been involved in much of the human challenge studies.