- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has chosen two Baltimore universities, along with four other academic institutions, to become Prevention Epicenters — focused on stopping the spread of infectious diseases, including the Ebola virus, in health care facilities across the country and around the world.

The Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland, Baltimore will share an $11 million grant over the next three years with four other universities in various projects that will help medical personnel better avoid spreading infectious diseases among themselves as well as their patients, the CDC said in a statement.

“Men and women at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland are on the front lines of combating the spread of diseases we’ve heard of, and many we haven’t,” Sen. Ben Cardin, Maryland Democrat and a Baltimore native, said in statement on Wednesday.

“Investing in research to develop best practices to stop the spread of diseases in health care settings is a matter of national security that strengthens public health and protects patients and providers alike. I applaud Johns Hopkins and University of Maryland for the years of excellence that made them obvious choices for this designation and look forward to the progress they will help build,” said Mr. Cardin, who is a member of the Senate Finance subcommittee on health care.

In his statement, Mr. Cardin said the spread of diseases such as influenza and antibiotic-resistant bacteria is a serious problem in U.S. medical facilities and adds billions of dollars to health care costs.

Specifically, The Johns Hopkins Epicenter will focus on protecting patients and medical personnel in hospitals by evaluating the best ways to wear personal protective gear, examining how to keep hospital areas clean, and preventing self-contamination in the presence of germs and viruses. The Hopkins Epicenter includes researchers and experts at the university’s School of Medicine, Bloomberg School of Public Health and School of Nursing.

The University of Maryland, Baltimore Epicenter will focus on improving protective equipment and reducing the spread of infectious diseases in hospital settings. The Maryland Epicenter includes researchers at the university’s School of Medicine and Medical Center, as well as the Veterans Affairs Maryland Healthcare System and Indiana University. Among the research team’s expertise: clinical medicine, infectious disease epidemiology, health economics and gerontology, according to the CDC.

Founded in 1997, the CDC’s Prevention Epicenter program has aimed to develop strategies to stem the transmission of diseases through collaborative research at academic medical institutions. The program now has 11 Epicenters, having had established five around the country, including Duke University and the University of Pennsylvania.

The other four Epicenters announced this week: Emory University, the University of Iowa, the University of Utah and the University of Illinois, Chicago.

Last year, West Africa suffered the largest Ebola virus outbreak in history: It killed more than 11,000 people and spread to the U.S. and Europe via transmission by health care workers.

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