FSU scientists receive $2.17M from state to combat Zika virus

Vice President for Research Gary K. Ostrander
Vice President for Research Gary K. Ostrander

Florida State University scientists received nearly $2.17 million from the Florida Department of Health as part of a state initiative to develop treatment and prevention methods related to the Zika virus.

“We are pleased with the Department of Health’s faith in Florida State as a partner to combat the effects of the Zika virus,” said Associate Vice President for Research Ross Ellington. “The research conducted by our faculty will help move the needle as scientists and doctors work to find a cure for this devastating disease.”

Gov. Rick Scott awarded 34 grants to 10 institutions totaling $25 million as part of this effort. More than 1,000 people in Florida were diagnosed with travel-related Zika cases in 2016, according to the Department of Health.

The money received by Florida State is divided among three projects:

  • Assistant Vice President for Research Eric Holmes and Vice President for Research Gary K. Ostrander, who is also a professor of biomedical sciences, will receive $1.1 million for human clinical trials involving the drug niclosamide. This drug is currently on the market for tapeworm infections, but researchers found in lab studies that it can also be effective in combating the Zika virus.
  • Associate Professor of Biomedical Sciences Timothy Megraw will receive $856,750 to understand the mechanisms by which the Zika virus activates the microtubule-organizing activity in the centrosome and to identify drugs that interfere with this process, blocking the spread of the virus.
  • Assistant Professor of Biomedical Sciences David Meckes will receive $199,280 to identify markers in pregnant women that let doctors know if the fetus has been infected with the Zika virus. Meckes’ lab is working with scientists and physicians in Puerto Rico to obtain samples from pregnant women who have either tested positive or negative for the Zika virus.