About the Global Health and Emerging Pathogens Institute

The Global Health and Emerging Pathogens Institute is the nucleus of Mount Sinai’s work on infectious diseases and the pathogens that cause them. The Institute, based in New York City, builds on Mount Sinai’s internationally recognized expertise in RNA virus research and encompasses ongoing research on the molecular pathogenesis of influenza, HIV, and dengue and Ebola viruses, as well as on hepatitis C.

Global Health and Emerging Pathogens Institute: At the forefront of virus research

Mount Sinai has an exceptional record in emerging pathogens research. In the influenza virus field, our investigators and their teams reconstructed the devastating 1918 flu virus, confirmed its virulence, and showed that it was sensitive to currently available antiviral agents such as Tamiflu. Further Institute research efforts created a new vaccine against avian influenza that is now used in the poultry industry throughout the developing world.

The innate component of the immune response is a rapid one, in which the body recognizes and fights off general classes of infectious agents. Mount Sinai has been at the forefront of current research, identifying viral factors that inhibit innate immune responses and showing how such factors contribute to the pathogenesis of the virus. Global Health and Emerging Pathogens Institute expertise in virology will prove invaluable as we work to develop robust vaccines and antiviral drugs.

Researchers in the Global Health and Emerging Pathogens Institute are collaborating with scientists in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Science to develop topical microbicides that will safely prevent the spread of sexually transmitted HIV. This exciting work in HIV biology by Department of Medicine investigators recently received awards from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Burroughs Wellcome Fund.

Global Health and Emerging Pathogens Institute: Proposed areas of growth

The Global Health and Emerging Pathogens Institute is focused on expanding Mount Sinai’s world-renowned programs in RNA viruses. The Institute’s programs are designed to answer a set of specific questions addressing how viruses cause disease.

  • How does the virus get into cells, replicate, and spread?
  • What functions do each of the viral proteins have?
  • What structural features of the virus dictate the type of cells the virus infects?
  • What structural features of the virus determine its pathogenicity?
  • What features determine the virus’s species specificity?
  • What host responses are critical for altering the disease?

Our strategy serves as a model for developing new programs to study other RNA viruses, such as hepatitis C. Hepatitis C is an obvious focus for expanding pathogenesis research given the growing prevalence of this infection. Other viruses of possible interest include West Nile virus and certain RNA viruses that could potentially be used as bioterrorist agents.

Creating new programs

The Global Health and Emerging Pathogens Institute is expanding the translational aspects of Mount Sinai’s antimicrobial research by creating programs in vaccine, antiviral, and antimicrobial drug development. Plans include adding the necessary clinical resources and training programs to develop and test new agents.

The Institute is also developing research programs driven by local and global public health needs. One emerging area of interest is antibiotic resistance, which has become a serious threat to hospitalized patients. Our proposed antibiotic resistance program will leverage Mount Sinai’s abundant clinical and patient resources, and its global health initiatives will encompass training as well as basic and clinical research.