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Research Project: Supporting and Enhancing the Vesicular Stomatitis Virus Grand Challenge Project

Location: Foreign Arthropod Borne Animal Disease Research

Project Number: 3022-32000-062-001-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Aug 1, 2021
End Date: Jul 31, 2026

The Vesicular Stomatitis Virus (VSV) Grand Challenge (GC) project was established in 2016 to develop a strategy and operational framework for complex problems in agro-ecosystems requiring large amounts of diverse data and trans- disciplinary scientific expertise. The approach is based on spatio-temporal modeling of cross-scale interactions coupled with human-guided machine learning. The outcomes include developing early warning strategies based on environmental conditions for the incursion and expansion of VS in the United States. On-going studies are expanding these strategies to predict potential VS distribution in the U.S. under future climate scenarios, to investigate VS distribution between its endemic region in Mexico and the US, and to expand the framework to other vector-borne diseases such as West Nile. The multidisciplinary groups of experts meet regularly and collaborate on specific research goals. The goals of this cooperative agreement between ARS, PIADC and GC member, New Mexico State University, are: 1. Coordinate and conduct semi-annual research coordination meetings for the VSV Grand Challenge project. 2. Expand current research on vesicular stomatitis virus insect vector ecology in the outbreak region of the virus in New Mexico and the endemic region of the virus in Mexico. 3. Support viral pathogenesis studies focused on identifying genetic determinants of viral virulence using functional genomics approaches.

1. Two research coordination meetings will be organized, each will include 20-30 participants and subject matter experts to review Grand Challenge accomplishments and future goals. These meetings will include presentations of preliminary and in-progress data, focused discussions among subgroups on manuscript preparation, and breakout sessions to determine future direction. 2. Ongoing field research studies in Mexico and New Mexico will be expanded to extend the insect collection periods and increase the number capture sites in order to have a more through representation of ecological niches. 3. ARS, PIADC in collaboration with NMSU will conduct at least 2 studies on VSV pathogenesis at Plum Island or collaborating BSL2 or BSL3 laboratories. NMSU will provide support in generating mutant viruses containing specific amino acid changes associated to viral virulence.