New Senior Advisors for International Affairs and Biosecurity Issues Join GISAID
GENEVA, May 21, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Noted among the key organizations contributing to global health security for its data-sharing program used to combat Influenza, the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID) is celebrating a decade of enabling near real-time surveillance to respond to and mitigate seasonal and pandemic influenza. Initiated in 2008, it has been called "one the most successful global collaborations ever achieved" by luminaries such as Dr Robert Webster, the foremost expert on bird flu.
To mark the occasion, global public health experts and leading researchers emphasized the contributions of GISAID, while government officials from countries such as China, Indonesia and Brazil will recognize its importance at the 2018 World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland this week.
Comprised of more than 8,000 scientists and over 1,000 institutions worldwide, GISAID's unique, sharing mechanism allows public health officials, scientists and industry to determine how the viruses have mutated and what specific interventions are needed. For example, in 2013 when a new, lethal avian flu strain appeared in China, its authorities relied on GISAID to share genetic data of the virus, receiving accolades for its well-handled response to the outbreak.
"The tenth anniversary of GISAID represents a landmark in global solidarity," said Prof. Lawrence O. Gostin of the World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Center on National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University. "A pandemic strain of influenza is perhaps the world's greatest threat. Everything GISAID stands for: virus sharing, cutting-edge research, open access and international cooperation to guarantee health security couldn't be more important."
Today, GISAID announced that Bruce A. Ruscio, a former U.S. State Department and Department of Defense official is joining GISAID joining as Senior Advisor on Data and Biosecurity Issues.
“In a world where global emerging disease threats demand effective sharing of information, GISAID has demonstrated what can be achieved by galvanizing the interests of public health officials, academia and industry to combat influenza," said Dr Marie-Paule Kieny, a former Assistant Director General at WHO. Dr Kieny will advise GISAID on International affairs.
GISAID's positive impact also shines a light on the challenges still being faced when it comes to sharing critical data of non-influenza pathogens. Both scientists and governments have repeatedly pointed to GISAID as a model that could be adapted for other dangerous viruses such as Ebola, Zika and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).
GISAID was formed when the paths of the then US Secretary of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, and a former senior studio executive at Time Warner, Peter Bogner, crossed paths at the 2006 World Economic Forum. Bogner then met and heard the impassioned plea of a top CDC official, Dr Nancy Cox, articulating the threat of the deadly bird flu and the vision for GISAID was established.
"GISAID's success exceeded our expectations and provides an important model for rapid data sharing for other pathogens with pandemic potential," said Dr Cox. "It's a global health imperative that we look for more ways to collaborate."
To learn more about GISAID's history, mission, research and goals, please visit www.GISAID.org.
The GISAID Initiative promotes the international sharing of all influenza virus sequences, related clinical and epidemiological data associated with human viruses, and geographical as well as species-specific data associated with avian and other animal viruses, to help researchers understand how the viruses evolve, spread and potentially become pandemic.