Mount Sinai and Institut Pasteur Announce Affiliation

New York, NY
 – November 29, 2017 /Press Release/  –– 

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (ISMMS) and Institut Pasteur have announced that they are forming a joint research unit to study viral pathogens.

The unit, to be known as the Artificial Virus Evolution Unit (AVENUe), aims to understand the biology of virus evolution and use this knowledge towards the development of new therapeutics. AVENUe will also enable professor, postdoc, and student exchanges between Mount Sinai and Pasteur.

The main objectives of the collaboration include monitoring virus populations as they move from host to host to determine what observable changes at the genome level cause new characteristics of the pathogen.  These changes will be modeled to better understand the biology underlying virus-induced disease and will subsequently be used to redirect these evolutionary processes to build new virus-based tools and vaccines.

Benjamin tenOever, PhD, Professor of Microbiology, Irene and Dr. Arthur M. Fishberg Professor of Medicine, and Director of the Virus Engineering Center for Therapeutics and Research (VECToR) at ISMMS, will co-lead AVENUe with Marco Vignuzzi, PhD, Director of the Viral Population and Pathogenesis Unit at the Institut Pasteur.

“We have launched this partnership to propel understanding of viruses and viral infections,” said Dr. tenOever. “Each institution has so much to offer, and can do much more together to develop novel therapeutics and vaccines to combat deadly pathogens. The global community must work together to understand the evolution of these viruses to better prepare for the next Zika- or Ebola-like outbreak.”

Mount Sinai has been at the forefront of developing new vaccine technologies and antiviral strategies to broadly address immune responses against various viruses, among them: influenza, Zika, dengue, Nipah, Hendra and Ebola viruses. This agreement promises to continue this longstanding tradition of cutting-edge viral research and propel it into the future. 

“This partnership will revolutionize virus research by combining expertise from two leading international research teams,” said Dennis S. Charney, MD, Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Dean, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and President for Academic Affairs, Mount Sinai Health System. “Both institutions are committed to building on our current understanding of pathogens and stopping future pandemics. We look forward to working with Institut Pasteur to ensure success. We do this for the benefit of communities across the globe.”

“The AVENUe project fits perfectly with Louis Pasteur's vision as a pioneer in public health. This joint research initiative complements the work of our 126 year old International Network as it brings together like-minded scientists from around the globe to tackle emerging infectious disease. That our two institutions do this through French-American exchange is a further testament to Pasteur's belief that ‘science knows no country, because knowledge belongs to humanity’. We look forward to years of collaboration with the Mount Sinai that advances public health,” said Gregory A. Corsico, Executive Director, Pasteur Foundation.

Dr. tenOever’s lab focuses on the molecular biology of virus infection, specifically the intricacies governing the cell’s response to infection and the subsequent exploitation of that knowledge to generate novel strategies for vaccine and antiviral drug design.

About the Mount Sinai Health System
The Mount Sinai Health System is New York City’s largest integrated delivery system encompassing seven hospital campuses, a leading medical school, and a vast network of ambulatory practices throughout the greater New York region. Mount Sinai’s vision is to provide the safest care, the highest quality, the highest satisfaction, the best access and the best value of any health system in the nation. The System includes approximately 7,100 primary and specialty care physicians; 10 joint-venture ambulatory surgery centers; more than 140 ambulatory practices throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, Long Island, and Florida; and 31 affiliated community health centers. Physicians are affiliated with the renowned Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, which is ranked among the highest in the nation in National Institutes of Health funding per investigator. The Mount Sinai Hospital is ranked No. 18 on U.S. News & World Report’s “Honor Roll” of top U.S. hospitals; it is one of the nation’s top 20 hospitals in Cardiology/Heart Surgery, Diabetes/Endocrinology, Gastroenterology/GI Surgery, Geriatrics, Nephrology, and Neurology/Neurosurgery, and in the top 50 in four other specialties in the 2017-2018 “Best Hospitals” issue. Mount Sinai’s Kravis Children’s Hospital also is ranked in six out of ten pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report. The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai is ranked 12th nationally for Ophthalmology and 50th for Ear, Nose, and Throat, while Mount Sinai Beth Israel, Mount Sinai St. Luke’s and Mount Sinai West are ranked regionally. For more information, visit http://www.mountsinai.org, or find Mount Sinai on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

About Institut Pasteur
Institut Pasteur was founded in 1887 by renowned French chemist and microbiologist Louis Pasteur, renowned for his discoveries of the principles of vaccination, microbial fermentation, and pasteurization – i.e., the technique for perishable substances to prevent bacterial contamination. Currently, the Institute Pasteur International Network supports 33 worldwide institutes, located in 26 countries, including Algeria, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, China, France, Greece, Iran, Italy, Laos, Niger, Romania, Tunisia, Uruguay and Vietnam.

Throughout its storied history, the Institut has been at the forefront of the battle against infectious disease, neuroscience, and is now leading the field with genomics and personalized medicine. In 1983, Institut Pasteur was the first research organization to isolate HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. In addition, it has been responsible for breakthrough discoveries that enabled medical science to control diseases such as diphtheria, tetanus, tuberculosis, poliomyelitis, influenza, yellow fever, and the plague. Ten Institut Pasteur scientists have been awarded the Nobel Prize for medicine and physiology.

About The Pasteur Foundation US
For over 60 years, the New York based Pasteur Foundation has been advancing the careers of U.S. scientists around the globe. Thanks to the generosity and pioneering vision of our friends and donors, the Foundation continues to fuel scientific careers and fund basic research and discoveries for the benefit of society. Through our programs that include 3-year funded Postdoctoral Fellowships, 10-week paid Undergraduate Summer Internships, and related outreach programs, the Foundation helps inspire the next generation of science.

The Pasteur Foundation is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization.