UofL taking lead in pandemic planning


    LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The University of Louisville has been awarded a $2.3 million grant to help Kentucky communities prepare for pandemics. The federal money will fund five collaborative research projects aimed at detection, preparedness, protection, response and recovery involving future outbreaks.

    UofL investigators will team with a researcher from the University of Kentucky in finding ways to more quickly detect a pandemic and share information with community leaders, such as mayors, emergency medical service providers and school superintendents.

    Federal funding is coming from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security through its agreement with the National Institute for Hometown Security, based in Somerset, Ky. The initial contract, part of the Kentucky Critical Infrastructure Protection Program, is for a period of 18 months with the option of an additional 18-month period with a similar amount of funding.

    Paul McKinney, associate dean, and Ruth Carrico, assistant professor of UofL’s School of Public Health and Information Sciences, will be co-leaders of the research team.

    “The funding of these five projects by NIHS could not have come at a more opportune time for our research team,” McKinney said. “The unexpected appearance of a novel H1N1, swine-associated influenza virus of average severity affords us a rare opportunity to provide instruction during a teachable moment. It will allow us the chance to markedly improve preparedness in our region when we encounter a more severe outbreak in the future.”

    UofL President James Ramsey thanked U.S. Rep. Harold “Hal” Rogers, R-Ky., for helping to secure the federal funding, adding, “These projects will further UofL’s mission of solving real world problems through research.”

    “Pandemic research at the University of Louisville is timely and will ultimately help protect our nation from the emerging threat of airborne diseases,” Rogers said. “With their world-class professors, I can think of no facility better than UofL to do this vital work for the security of our country.”

    Mark Hebert
    Following a 28-year career as a radio and television reporter, Mark Hebert joined the University of Louisville as the Director of Media Relations in 2009, serving as the main spokesperson. In 2015, Mark was named Director of Programming and Production. He’s now producing and hosting a radio show about “all things UofL”, overseeing the university’s video and TV productions and promoting UofL’s research operation. Mark is best known for his 22 years as the political and investigative reporter for WHAS-TV in Louisville where he won numerous awards for breaking stories, exposing corruption and objectively covering Kentucky politics. In 2014, Mark was inducted into the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame.