Vaccine Research and Education Unit

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200 Hawkins Drive
358 Medical Research Facility
Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2600
Phone: (319) 356-4848

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  • Pat Winokur with Team

    About the Unit

    The University of Iowa Vaccine Research and Education Project was established in 2007 with a $23.7 million contract from The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The contract was renewed in 2013 with the potential for $135 million per year over 7 to 10 years. As part of the contract, the UI unit conducts clinical trials of promising vaccines and therapies for infectious diseases.

    The UI is one of nine sites nationwide selected to serve as Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Units (VTEUs), responsible for testing vaccines in specific populations and bolstering NIAID's ability to direct clinical research to quickly respond to public health needs. Other VETU contracts were awarded to medical centers at:

    VTEU Sites

    Patricia Winokur, M.D., associate dean for clinical and translational science and associate professor of internal medicine in the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, infectious diseases specialist at UI Hospitals and Clinics, and researcher and staff physician at the Veterans Affairs Iowa City Health Care System, is the principal investigator for the project.

    The UI center will continue to conduct clinical trials on traditional flu vaccines that are developed each year as well as flu vaccines with new adjuvants -- chemicals or ingredients that help boost a person's immune system response. The UI and other VTEU sites also will study vaccines related to emerging public health issues. Since 2011, the UI Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit (VTEU) has enrolled has enrolled nearly 3,000 volunteers and a total of 23,000 visits.

    "The ability to develop and test vaccines in response to emerging diseases or biochemical agents is always important, and it will be a key component of the consortium," Winokur said. "Obviously, NIH will take the lead in establishing the key targets from a national health perspective, but this partnership strengthens our ability to respond rapidly and efficiently.

    A strong track record of enrolling clinical studies participants and obtaining reliable, high quality data were key considerations in the UI being named a VTEU site, Winokur said, but she also pointed to the support provided by Iowans who take part in these trials. “The individuals who volunteer for these types of studies are the backbone of our entire clinical trials pro¬gram and they make Iowa an amazingly successful place to do this type of work,” For as long as researchers have conducted vaccine trials at the University of Iowa, study participants have responded in great numbers and remained loyal participants—two hallmarks of the UI’s success.

    Jack Stapleton, MD, UI professor of internal medicine and associate director of the UI VTEU adds “The Iowans who volunteer are such wonderful Midwestern people. They show up for all their appointments, which means we have superb retention and follow-through with our patients. For research studies, this is very important.”