Emerging Infectious Diseases

Transmission electron micrograph of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus

Building on decades of prescient investments into broad capabilities and a product-oriented research infrastructure, the U.S. Army and WRAIR have been able to consistently maintain a posture of readiness and response to the most pressing pathogens that threaten U.S. and allied forces.

In recent years, however, as the onslaught of emerging infectious diseases (EID), and the public health emergencies they precipitate, has intensified (Zika, Ebola, and pandemic influenza), WRAIR had to turn legacy assets to the task of responding to each outbreak. In 2018, WRAIR announced the creation of a new Emerging Infectious Diseases branch (EIDB), with the explicit mission to survey, anticipate and counter the mounting threat of emerging infectious diseases of key importance to U.S. forces in the homeland and abroad.

Research Areas


WRAIR is improving biopreparedness in key regions through its Joint West Africa Research Group (JWARG) and the Partnership for Research in the Middle East (PRIME).

Two scientists work under hood vent

In the midst of the 2016 Zika virus epidemic, WRAIR—working in synchrony with other government agencies, academic institutions and industry partners—developed a Zika purified inactivated virus (ZPIV) vaccine candidate, advancing it from initial concept to Phase 1 clinical trials within nine months.

Scanning electron micrograph of Ebola virus

WRAIR was a pioneer in early testing of Ebola vaccine candidates, utilizing its established network of HIV study clinical study sites in Africa to pivot towards Ebola countermeasures. In total, WRAIR has conducted more than half a dozen Ebola or other filovirus vaccine candidate clinical trials to date.

Tank and camel

WRAIR completed the first-in-human, and still only, Phase I trial of a MERS vaccine candidate intended for use in humans.  Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), a cousin of SARS, is a growing deployment and global concern due to its high fatality rate of nearly 40%.

researcher working under hood

Researchers are focused on the development of prophylactic and therapeutic Lassa virus countermeasures—especially in connection with its biosurveillance networks—to promote the aims of the Global Health Security Agenda and U.S. National Security Strategy.

Engorged tick
Tick-Borne Encephalitis

EIDB initiated a path through the U.S. Army to work with government agencies and industry partners to define the threat of TBE infection among U.S. military personnel and procure the means for U.S. personnel to access immunization.