Emerging Pathogens Institute

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Emerging Pathogens Institute
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The Emerging Pathogen Research Facility
Director J. Glenn Morris
Website Official website

The Emerging Pathogens Institute (EPI) is an interdisciplinary research institution associated with the University of Florida. The institute focuses on fusing key disciplines to develop outreach, education, and research capabilities designed to preserve the region's health and economy, as well as to prevent or contain new and re-emerging diseases. [1] Researchers within the institute work in more than 30 different countries around the world, with over 250 affiliated faculty members stemming from 11 University of Florida colleges, centers, and institutes. The 90,000-square-foot building includes laboratories and collaborative space for bioinformatics and mathematical modeling.



The idea of this institute was first created by the University of Florida faculty and researchers, prompted by the recognition of a need for a facility that could drive pathogen-related research in Florida. Funding for the EPI was provided by the Florida State Legislature in 2006. In 2007, Dr. J. Glenn Morris was recruited from the University of Maryland, Baltimore to serve as the founding director of the EPI. Construction on a new, dedicated 90,000-square-foot research facility was completed in 2009. The structure houses the institute and numerous top researchers, as well as the Southeastern National Tuberculosis Center (SNTC), the Southern HIV and Alcohol Research Consortium (SHARC) and one of the CDC Centers of Excellence in Vector-borne Diseases. [2]

In March 2009, the institute received a substantial grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This was the first time that the University of Florida has ever received direct funding from this foundation, and the grant was provided to help researchers develop tools to fight malaria. [3]

Major areas of research

Global research

The Emerging Pathogens Institute channels multidisciplinary programs focused on plant, human and animal pathogens, including viral discovery, vector-borne pathogens and, most recently, coronaviruses and pandemic preparedness. Publications include papers in top scientific journals, including Science, Nature and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Given the speed with which pathogens can move globally, work in the EPI has had a strong international focus, with collaborations in place with investigators in over 50 countries.

EPI investigators have been involved in research on various coronavirus species for a number of years. With the onset of the pandemic, the EPI has played a role in population-based studies of COVID-19, including studies of transmission within schools. [4] Other areas of research have included development of mathematical models predicting spread of the virus in Florida in successive pandemic waves, [5] the critical role of aerosols in transmission of the virus [6] [7] [8] and the transmission of coronaviruses of animal origin into humans. [9] [10]


2007Present J. Glenn Morris

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Zoonosis</span> Disease that can be transmitted from other species to humans

A zoonosis or zoonotic disease is an infectious disease of humans caused by a pathogen that can jump from a non-human to a human and vice versa.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Infection</span> Invasion of an organisms body by pathogenic agents

An infection is the invasion of tissues by pathogens, their multiplication, and the reaction of host tissues to the infectious agent and the toxins they produce. An infectious disease, also known as a transmissible disease or communicable disease, is an illness resulting from an infection.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Coronavirus</span> Subfamily of viruses in the family Coronaviridae

Coronaviruses are a group of related RNA viruses that cause diseases in mammals and birds. In humans and birds, they cause respiratory tract infections that can range from mild to lethal. Mild illnesses in humans include some cases of the common cold, while more lethal varieties can cause SARS, MERS and COVID-19, which is causing the ongoing pandemic. In cows and pigs they cause diarrhea, while in mice they cause hepatitis and encephalomyelitis.

EcoHealth Alliance is a US-based non-governmental organization with a stated mission of protecting people, animals, and the environment from emerging infectious diseases. The nonprofit is focused on research that aims to prevent pandemics and promote conservation in hotspot regions worldwide.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Emerging infectious disease</span> Infectious disease of emerging pathogen, often novel in its outbreak range or transmission mode

An emerging infectious disease (EID) is an infectious disease whose incidence has increased recently, and could increase in the near future. The minority that are capable of developing efficient transmission between humans can become major public and global concerns as potential causes of epidemics or pandemics. Their many impacts can be economic and societal, as well as clinical. EIDs have been increasing steadily since at least 1940. For every decade since 1940, there has been a consistent increase in the number of EID events from wildlife-related zoonosis. Human activity is the primary driver of this increase, with loss of biodiversity a leading mechanism.

An emergent virus is a virus that is either newly appeared, notably increasing in incidence/geographic range or has the potential to increase in the near future. Emergent viruses are a leading cause of emerging infectious diseases and raise public health challenges globally, given their potential to cause outbreaks of disease which can lead to epidemics and pandemics. As well as causing disease, emergent viruses can also have severe economic implications. Recent examples include the SARS-related coronaviruses, which have caused the 2002-2004 outbreak of SARS (SARS-CoV-1) and the 2019–21 pandemic of COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2). Other examples include the human immunodeficiency virus which causes HIV/AIDS; the viruses responsible for Ebola; the H5N1 influenza virus responsible for avian flu; and H1N1/09, which caused the 2009 swine flu pandemic. Viral emergence in humans is often a consequence of zoonosis, which involves a cross-species jump of a viral disease into humans from other animals. As zoonotic viruses exist in animal reservoirs, they are much more difficult to eradicate and can therefore establish persistent infections in human populations.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">W. Ian Lipkin</span> Professor, microbiologist, epidemiologist

Walter Ian Lipkin is the John Snow Professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University and a professor of Neurology and Pathology at the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University. He is also director of the Center for Infection and Immunity, an academic laboratory for microbe hunting in acute and chronic diseases. Lipkin is internationally recognized for his work with West Nile virus, SARS and COVID-19.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Airborne transmission</span> Disease transmission by airborne particles

Airborne transmission or aerosol transmission is transmission of an infectious disease through small particles suspended in the air. Infectious diseases capable of airborne transmission include many of considerable importance both in human and veterinary medicine. The relevant infectious agent may be viruses, bacteria, or fungi, and they may be spread through breathing, talking, coughing, sneezing, raising of dust, spraying of liquids, flushing toilets, or any activities which generate aerosol particles or droplets. This is the transmission of diseases via transmission of an infectious agent, and does not include diseases caused by air pollution.

Novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a provisional name given to coronaviruses of medical significance before a permanent name is decided upon. Although coronaviruses are endemic in humans and infections normally mild, such as the common cold, cross-species transmission has produced some unusually virulent strains which can cause viral pneumonia and in serious cases even acute respiratory distress syndrome and death.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Human coronavirus OC43</span> Species of virus

Human coronavirus OC43 (HCoV-OC43) is a member of the species Betacoronavirus 1, which infects humans and cattle. The infecting coronavirus is an enveloped, positive-sense, single-stranded RNA virus that enters its host cell by binding to the N-acetyl-9-O-acetylneuraminic acid receptor. OC43 is one of seven coronaviruses known to infect humans. It is one of the viruses responsible for the common cold and may have been responsible for the 1889–1890 pandemic. It has, like other coronaviruses from genus Betacoronavirus, subgenus Embecovirus, an additional shorter spike protein called hemagglutinin-esterase (HE).

Spillover infection, also known as pathogen spillover and spillover event, occurs when a reservoir population with a high pathogen prevalence comes into contact with a novel host population. The pathogen is transmitted from the reservoir population and may or may not be transmitted within the host population. Due to climate change and land use expansion, the risk of viral spillover is predicted to significantly increase.

Shi Zhengli is a Chinese virologist who researches SARS-like coronaviruses of bat origin. Shi directs the Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV). In 2017, Shi and her colleague Cui Jie discovered that the SARS coronavirus likely originated in a population of cave-dwelling horseshoe bats in Xiyang Yi Ethnic Township, Yunnan. She came to prominence in the popular press as "Batwoman" during the COVID-19 pandemic for her work with bat coronaviruses. Shi was included in Time's 100 Most Influential People of 2020.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wildlife trade and zoonoses</span> Health risks associated with the trade in exotic wildlife

Wildlife trafficking practices have resulted in the emergence of zoonotic diseases. Exotic wildlife trafficking is a multi-billion dollar industry that involves the removal and shipment of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates, and fish all over the world. Traded wild animals are used for bushmeat consumption, unconventional exotic pets, animal skin clothing accessories, home trophy decorations, privately owned zoos, and for traditional medicine practices. Dating back centuries, people from Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and Europe have used animal bones, horns, or organs for their believed healing effects on the human body. Wild tigers, rhinos, elephants, pangolins, and certain reptile species are acquired through legal and illegal trade operations in order to continue these historic cultural healing practices. Within the last decade nearly 975 different wild animal taxa groups have been legally and illegally exported out of Africa and imported into areas like China, Japan, Indonesia, the United States, Russia, Europe, and South America.

John Glenn Morris, Jr. is an American physician and epidemiologist. He is the founding and current director of the Emerging Pathogens Institute, an interdisciplinary research facility located within the University of Florida, having served since 2007.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">SARS-CoV-2</span> Virus that causes COVID-19

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS‑CoV‑2) is a strain of coronavirus that causes COVID-19, the respiratory illness responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic. The virus previously had a provisional name, 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), and has also been called the human coronavirus 2019. First identified in the city of Wuhan, Hubei, China, the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern from January 30, 2020, to May 5, 2023. SARS‑CoV‑2 is a positive-sense single-stranded RNA virus that is contagious in humans.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wuhan Institute of Virology</span> Research Institute in Wuhan, Hubei, China

The Wuhan Institute of Virology, Chinese Academy of Sciences is a research institute on virology administered by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), which reports to the State Council of the People's Republic of China. The institute is one of nine independent organisations in the Wuhan Branch of the CAS. Located in Jiangxia District, Wuhan, Hubei, it was founded in 1956 and opened mainland China's first biosafety level 4 (BSL-4) laboratory in 2018. The institute has collaborated with the Galveston National Laboratory in the United States, the Centre International de Recherche en Infectiologie in France, and the National Microbiology Laboratory in Canada. The institute has been an active premier research center for the study of coronaviruses.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Peter Daszak</span> British zoologist

Peter Daszak is a British zoologist, consultant and public expert on disease ecology, in particular on zoonosis. He is the president of EcoHealth Alliance, a nonprofit non-governmental organization that supports various programs on global health and pandemic prevention. He is also a member of the Center for Infection and Immunity at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. He lives in Suffern, New York.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Transmission of COVID-19</span> Mechanisms that spread coronavirus disease 2019

The transmission of COVID-19 is the passing of coronavirus disease 2019 from person to person. COVID-19 is mainly transmitted when people breathe in air contaminated by droplets/aerosols and small airborne particles containing the virus. Infected people exhale those particles as they breathe, talk, cough, sneeze, or sing. Transmission is more likely the more physically close people are. However, infection can occur over longer distances, particularly indoors.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">History of coronavirus</span> History of the virus group

The history of coronaviruses is an account of the discovery of the diseases caused by coronaviruses and the diseases they cause. It starts with the first report of a new type of upper-respiratory tract disease among chickens in North Dakota, U.S., in 1931. The causative agent was identified as a virus in 1933. By 1936, the disease and the virus were recognised as unique from other viral disease. They became known as infectious bronchitis virus (IBV), but later officially renamed as Avian coronavirus.

DRASTIC is a loose collection of internet activists assembled to investigate the origins of COVID-19, in particular the lab leak theory. Composed of about 30 core members, and primarily organized through the social media website Twitter, DRASTIC was formed in February 2020, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. DRASTIC members called for a "full and unrestricted investigation" into the origins of COVID-19, conducted independently of the World Health Organization; most scientists thought that COVID-19 likely had a natural origin, and some considered that a potential lab leak was worth investigating.


  1. "Emerging Pathogens Institute - University of Florida". epi.ufl.edu.
  2. "Florida breaks ground for pathogen research lab - DVM Newsmagazine | HighBeam Research". October 22, 2012. Archived from the original on 2012-10-22.
  3. Crabbe N. "Gates Foundation gives grant to UF". Gainesville Sun.
  4. Nelson EJ, McKune SL, Ryan KA, Shapiro J, Mott-Young AH, Myers PD, Morris JG (March 2022). "Antigen vs RT-PCR Tests for Screening Quarantined Students in Florida During the COVID-19 Pandemic SARS-CoV-2 Delta Variant Surge". JAMA Pediatrics. 176 (5): 525–526. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2022.0080. PMC   8902689 . PMID   35254393.
  5. Hladish TJ, Pillai AN, Longini IM (January 2022). "Updated projections for COVID-19 omicron wave in Florida". medRxiv. doi:10.1101/2022.01.06.22268849. PMC   8750725 . PMID   35018391.
  6. Lednicky JA, Shankar SN, Elbadry MA, Gibson JC, Alam MM, Stephenson CJ, et al. (June 2020). "Collection of SARS-CoV-2 Virus from the Air of a Clinic Within a University Student Health Care Center and Analyses of the Viral Genomic Sequence". Aerosol and Air Quality Research. 20 (6): 1167–1171. doi:10.4209/aaqr.2020.05.0202. PMC   7792982 . PMID   33424954.
  7. Lednicky JA, Lauzard M, Fan ZH, Jutla A, Tilly TB, Gangwar M, et al. (November 2020). "Viable SARS-CoV-2 in the air of a hospital room with COVID-19 patients". International Journal of Infectious Diseases. 100: 476–482. doi:10.1016/j.ijid.2020.09.025. PMC   7493737 . PMID   32949774.
  8. Lednicky JA, Lauzardo M, Alam MM, Elbadry MA, Stephenson CJ, Gibson JC, Morris JG (July 2021). "Isolation of SARS-CoV-2 from the air in a car driven by a COVID patient with mild illness". International Journal of Infectious Diseases. 108: 212–216. doi:10.1016/j.ijid.2021.04.063. PMC   8064821 . PMID   33901650.
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  10. Lednicky JA, Tagliamonte MS, White SK, Blohm GM, Alam MM, Iovine NM, et al. (October 2021). "Isolation of a Novel Recombinant Canine Coronavirus from a Visitor to Haiti: Further Evidence of Transmission of Coronaviruses of Zoonotic Origin to Humans". Clinical Infectious Diseases. 75 (1): e1184–e1187. doi:10.1093/cid/ciab924. PMC   9402678 . PMID   34718467.
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