The IRB joins international network for the study of emerging infectious diseases


Institutional Communication Service

23 February 2021

The Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB, Bellinzona, Switzerland) announces it has joined the United World Antiviral Research Network (UWARN), the organisation that brings together researchers from leading institutions in several countries around the globe to spot and confront emerging pandemic viruses. The participation in this initiative will enable the IRB (an affiliated institute of USI Università della Svizzera italiana) to advance research in this important area and enhance its global position in the fight against emerging diseases. 

As shown by the coronavirus pandemic, many infectious agents have no borders. And neither do those scientists, whose goal is to fight them. Well before the novel coronavirus pandemic, in many had seen new viruses as a source of great concern, but not enough had been done. In June 2020, the UWARN was established at the University of Washington in Seattle, USA, with the purpose of providing surveillance for emerging pandemic viruses, developing urgently needed diagnostics and therapeutics, and expanding understanding of viral immune responses, which is key to vaccine development. At present, the network includes collaborating centres such as Rockefeller University in New York City, FIOCRUZ in Brazil, IRESSEF in Senegal, KRISP in South Africa, Aga Khan University in Pakistan, and Chang Gung University in Taiwan (see >> 

"Participation in UWARN will enhance the ability of the IRB to obtain and study human samples to understand the immune response against new diseases and set the basis for the development of novel medical countermeasures", says Davide Robbiani, IRB Director. "This is strategically important to maintain the IRB at the forefront in the battle against future pandemics".

Wes Van Voorhis, head of UWARN and co-director of the Center for Emerging and Reemerging Infectious Disease says, "We are delighted to have the IRB on board. Its pioneering role in immunology research is acknowledged worldwide and is instrumental for UWARN in providing timely understanding of emerging pathogens".