• Press Release

Mount Sinai and Institut Pasteur Announce Affiliation

  • New York, NY
  • (November 29, 2017)

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 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.

About the Mount Sinai Health System

Mount Sinai Health System is one of the largest academic medical systems in the New York metro area, with 48,000 employees working across eight hospitals, more than 400 outpatient practices, more than 600 research and clinical labs, a school of nursing, and a leading school of medicine and graduate education. Mount Sinai advances health for all people, everywhere, by taking on the most complex health care challenges of our time—discovering and applying new scientific learning and knowledge; developing safer, more effective treatments; educating the next generation of medical leaders and innovators; and supporting local communities by delivering high-quality care to all who need it.

Through the integration of its hospitals, labs, and schools, Mount Sinai offers comprehensive health care solutions from birth through geriatrics, leveraging innovative approaches such as artificial intelligence and informatics while keeping patients’ medical and emotional needs at the center of all treatment. The Health System includes approximately 9,000 primary and specialty care physicians and 11 free-standing joint-venture centers throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, Long Island, and Florida. Hospitals within the System are consistently ranked by Newsweek’s® “The World’s Best Smart Hospitals, Best in State Hospitals, World Best Hospitals and Best Specialty Hospitals” and by U.S. News & World Report's® “Best Hospitals” and “Best Children’s Hospitals.” The Mount Sinai Hospital is on the U.S. News & World Report® “Best Hospitals” Honor Roll for 2023-2024.

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