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University at Buffalo receives $1M to support pandemic preparedness

The University at Buffalo is receiving $1 million in federal funding to create a 'early warning system' to future pandemics.
Credit: WGRZ Staff
The entrance to the University at Buffalo's North Campus.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that a system needs to be in place to help monitor, predict, prepare, track and plan for future pandemics, and a plan is in the works to help with that. 

The University at Buffalo is receiving $1 million in federal funding to create a 'early warning system' to future pandemics. 

The grant, which is funded by the National Science Foundation, was announced by Congressman Brian Higgins (D-NY-26). The money will be used in first phase of the Predictive Intelligence for Pandemic Prevention Initiative (PIPP).

“The COVID-19 pandemic shocked the Western New York Community and the rest of the world. It challenged our public health efforts and put a strain on our healthcare system as a whole,” said Higgins in a released statement. 

“Of the many things we have learned from this crisis, the most important is that we must be better prepared for future pandemics. Thanks to this investment from the National Science Foundation, we are creating the technology to track viruses early and working with community partners to rebuild trust in the public health system. These efforts will not only prevent significant economic disruptions, but also save lives.”

The project is being led by Jennifer Surtees, PhD, an associate professor of biochemistry at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB. 

The money will be used to develop an early warning system for future pandemics and work with communities to build support around public health matters in Western New York

Researchers at UB will also work with the Erie County Department of Health to find better ways to communicate risks of a pandemic to the public.

“We have solid relationships with the Buffalo Museum of Science, the Buffalo Public Schools and others — and we will be working to strengthen the trust that we have developed already,” Surtees said. 

“We will be integrating these groups into what we are doing and helping to build a more resilient community.”

A second phase of grants will be announced in 2023. 

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