New program will focus research on combating Zika virus

From UW Medicine
October 10, 2019

A new program delving into how viruses and bacteria attack the fetus, and how the body fights back, has been created at UW Medicine. The research program was made possible after two UW Medicine researchers received almost $19 million in National Institutes of Health grants over the past several months.

The funding has launched a Program on Maternal-Fetal Health within the Center for Innate Immunity and Disease, said Kristina Adams Waldorf, professor of obstetrics and gynecology and one of the two researchers receiving the grants. The other key program leader will be Michael Gale, Jr., director of the center and professor of immunology.  Both are on the faculty of the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle.

“We’ll be looking at the early immune response (to the virus) and how that plays a role in protecting or injuring the fetus and causing pregnancy complications,” said Adams Waldorf, who is an obstetrician and a scientist. The creation of the program will formally bring together teams that have worked for the past three years on understanding how Zika virus regulates the immune response in pregnancy. The team also will test a new therapeutic to try to prevent Zika infections in pregnant mothers who have been exposed to the virus.

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