Lilly To Fund Multinational Emerging Infectious Diseases Training Program

Eli Lilly and Company and the National Foundation for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today announced an international effort to support scientific training that will strengthen surveillance for infectious diseases caused by naturally occurring or intentionally released infectious agents. Over the next four years, Lilly will provide more than $2 million to train international scientists from both developed and developing countries. The scientists will train in CDC’s public health laboratories with some of the leading U.S. infectious diseases researchers to improve multinational response to outbreaks of infectious diseases.

The fellowship program was highlighted today during the opening session of the International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases in Atlanta, Ga.

“The goal of the program is to train a network of laboratory leaders around the globe to provide a rapid, multinational response to infectious diseases threats, whether they be naturally occurring or intentionally released,” said Dr. Gail Cassell, Lilly’s vice president of infectious diseases. “In doing so, we hope to reinforce the public health laboratory system and strengthen its relationship to infectious diseases surveillance, prevention, research and control.”

“We are grateful to Lilly for their support of this important program,” said C. Charles Stokes, president and CEO of the CDC Foundation. “The fellowship program is a national model for how private and public partners can work together to accomplish common public health goals.”

The National Center for Infectious Diseases of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL) will oversee the training of 28 international scientists during the next four years. The training will provide experience with using the latest laboratory techniques and technologies, thereby building and improving the scientists’ capacities in the laboratory for addressing diseases endemic to their homeland. The training will focus on emerging infectious diseases, hepatitis and viral infections.

For 2001-2002, seven scientists from China, Croatia, India, Russia, and Turkey have been chosen to participate in the fellowship program.

Lilly’s funding will also support the creation of a fellowship alumni network that will help the scientists continue professional and educational relationships after returning to their homeland. Specifically, the network will provide the scientists with a means of communicating among themselves, with CDC mentors, and with Lilly staff to enhance their ability to identify and monitor biological threats. Each year, Lilly and the CDC Foundation will bring fellowship alumni to Lilly’s corporate headquarters to brief them on the latest public health needs and technologies.

Infectious diseases remain a leading cause of death worldwide and contribute significantly to the escalating costs of health care. In the United States alone, an influenza pandemic would cause an estimated 89,000 to 207,000 deaths and 314,000 to 734,000 hospitalizations, and the economic impact would range from $71 billion to $167 billion. Emerging pathogens and resulting infectious diseases are cause for increasing concern. More than 35 newly emerging infectious diseases were identified between 1973 and 1999, and new infectious disease threats continue to be identified.