Tufts, UM snare $185 million to unite health professions in outbreak response
North Grafton, Mass. — Tufts University and the University of Minnesota received a five-year grant for up to $185 million to improve synergies among veterinarians, doctors and public-health officials in responding to emerging infectious diseases.
The initiative will be led by Bethesda-based United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to improve "the capacity of countries in high-risk areas to respond to outbreaks of emergent zoonotic diseases."
The program, called RESPOND, will focus on long-term field epidemiology training, short-term in-service training and academic preparation of health professionals using a One Health framework. The training is said to facilitate the merging of animal and human-health expertise into a comprehensive approach to disease detection and outbreak response.The principal investigators leading the team at Tufts are Robyn G. Alders, an associate professor within the Department of Environmental and Population Health, and Joann M. Lindenmayer, an associate professor of public health. John Deen, DVM, PhD, will lead the project at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine.
The RESPOND grant is one of five projects of the USAID Emerging Pandemic Threats program. The other four projects include PREDICT (to monitor for emergence of infectious agents from high-risk wildlife), IDENTIFY (to develop a robust laboratory network), PREPARE (to create pandemic preparedness plans) and PREVENT (focusing on communication to help people avoid high-risk practices that could lead to transmission from animals to people), Tufts reports.