Viral Diseases

influenza vaccine vial on left, Soldier receiving immunization from other Soldier on right

Viral diseases pose a significant threat to Soldier health, readiness, and lethality. Especially in training and field environments, Soldiers live and work in close proximity, allowing pathogens to spread with ease. Some diseases are commonplace at home station, like influenza; others, like dengue, are prevalent where Soldiers deploy.  

WRAIR's Viral Disease branch (VDB) works in collaboration with academia, industry, and other government agencies to detect and eliminate viral threats to Soldiers by supporting disease surveillance around the world to inform force health protection decisions, identify targets for new preventives and treatments, and develop arbovirus and respiratory virus vaccines. 

VDB quickly identifies and responds to emerging and existing viral threats to keep Soldiers in the fight. This unique infrastructure is organized to monitor viral epidemics and outbreaks throughout the world, provide early warnings, and develop products such as approved vaccines for influenza, Japanese encephalitis, adenovirus and hepatitis A. 

Research Areas

Army entomologist collecting samples for sequencing
Molecular Pathology and Next Generation Sequencing

Utilizing state of the art molecular and sequencing techniques, VDB scientists collect and analyze clinical and environmental specimens from around the globe to identify novel and emerging viral threats. This information is the basis of further pathogen discovery targets, viral disease surveillance strategies, and future vaccine development. 

scientists examine sample plate under hood
Viral Genetics and Emerging Diseases

Using advanced bioinformatics and epidemiologic information from viral epidemics and outbreaks, VDB provides early warning of emerging threats that may impact force readiness. VDB scientists investigate viral evolution and scan for mutations that may affect pathogen transmission, disease severity, and the efficacy of both new and licensed vaccines. 

Army scientist looking through microscope
Immunology for Vaccine Development
VDB's immunology effort serves as a platform to measure cell-mediated immune responses and other biomarkers of the physiological response to pathogens to identify vaccine candidates and characterize their effectiveness.
civilian scientist examing a sample
Preclinical Studies

VDB’s preclinical effort integrates molecular virology expertise, animal model capabilities, as well as established and exploratory serological assays to develop and evaluate vaccines and other virus countermeasures. 

Soldier screens clinical trial participant
Clinical Studies

Working closely with partners at the Clinical Trials Center, VDB conducts clinical trials to determine safety and efficacy of new products to protect Soldiers from the viral disease threats.