The Midwest Anti-Viral Drug Development (AViDD) Center was formalized as a direct response to emergency awards from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
The Co-Principal investigators of the Midwest AViDD Center are Reuben Harris and Fang Li. They both have deep experience in virology and leading multidisciplinary teams.
When the Emergency Awards: AViDD Centers for Pathogens of Concern Request for Applications was announced, most of our Center's investigators were already working together in various capacities. The announcement catalyzed and solidified our comprehensive multidisciplinary Center focused on innovative antiviral drug development.
The primary target of the Midwest AViDD Center is SARS-CoV-2 (SARS2), with all five Projects targeting essential viral processes.
We purposely selected a balance of well-established antiviral drug targets and less conventional targets with equally promising long-term potential.
All five Projects require integrated and highly collaborative support from five service Cores for administration, screening, chemistry, structural and computational biology, and virology.
A significant strength of the Midwest AViDD Center is a three-pronged screening approach for obtaining promising starting points for antiviral drug development. Each Project will also pursue inhibitors for additional RNA viruses of pandemic potential – the Lassa virus, the Ebola virus, and the Zika virus.
Each Project has a built-in capacity to assess an inhibitor’s potential throughout drug development.
Overall activities of the Midwest AViDD Center have two specific aims. The first aim is dedicated to research and development. Our five Projects and five Cores leverage established and innovative approaches to develop novel, high-potency, and orally available drugs for SARS2 and other viruses with pandemic potential.
The second is dedicated to interdisciplinary training, education, and outreach. Interdisciplinary training is vital for addressing the current COVID-19 pandemic and preparing for the next one.
Major deliverables from the Center will be novel antiviral lead compounds for further development by industry partners. Equally important, a well-trained group of antiviral researchers, including next-generation experts and leaders, will be produced to further scientific discovery.
Both aims of the Center will have lasting, long-term impacts, hopefully contributing to ending the current pandemic and becoming better prepared for future viral outbreaks and stopping them before reaching pandemic levels.
Public Health Relevance Statement
The Midwest AViDD Center comprises a highly experienced, integrated, and multidisciplinary team to develop inhibitors of SARS-CoV-2 and other viruses of pandemic concern.
We utilize a balance of innovative and proven approaches and technologies to develop inhibitors to established druggable processes and less conventional but equally essential viral processes. We aim to deliver novel inhibitors that can be developed into effective orally available drugs that potently and safely suppress virus replication and help prevent infections and death.