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Merck Animal Health Supports Young Researchers at International Symposium on Neglected Influenza Viruses

12 June 2015

MSD Animal Health - Pigs

US - The 3rd International Symposium on Neglected Influenza Viruses (ISNIV) held in Athens, Georgia was an opportunity for young and upcoming scientists to be recognized. Two Junior Investigator Best Speaker awards and two Junior Investigator Best Poster awards were presented by Merck Animal Health to encourage ongoing research into important aspects of influenza research that may have implications for human as well as animal health.

This year’s conference explored the latest data on surveillance and disease investigation, virus transmission and control, clinical and experimental virology, and emerging issues and new developments related to swine, equine, canine and other non-human/non-avian influenza viruses.

The next symposium will be held in 2018 at a site to be determined.

The Best Speaker Awardees:

  • Tavis Anderson, Assistant Professor of Parasitology, Georgia Southern University: “An automated tool for quantifying spatial and temporal dynamics of influenza A virus in North American swine”

  • Erik Karlsson, Postdoctoral Research Associate, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital: “Respiratory transmission of an avian H3N8 influenza virus isolated from a harbor seal” 

The Best Posters Awardees:

  • Mario Aramouni, The Jenner Institute, University of Oxford, The Animal and Plant Health Agency, UK: “H1N1 Transmission parameters and host responses in naïve pigs”

  • Sarah Nelson, Research Assistant, Animal Influenza Ecology and Epidemiology Research Lab, The Ohio State University: “Influenza virus A transmission in swine at an agricultural fair, 2014”

The winners reported many challenges to this work, from the basic issues of working with pigs who “are not very friendly” when being introduced together to the complexity of trying to write biology as mathematics for computer programmes.

“Funding bottlenecks were identified as a real hurdle for young scientists and we are pleased to have the opportunity to support the next generation of scientists in this important work,” said Alasdair King, MSD Animal Health.

“The zoonotic threat of influenza viruses is real and cannot be ignored. With new outbreaks of influenza occurring more and more frequently, possibly the most important message from all this research came from Erik Karlsson who simply summed it up as ‘Nature won’t wait’”.

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