Dr. Eric Weaver, an assistant professor in the School of Biological Sciences, was recognized November 4, 2019 as he received the Emerging Innovator of the Year award from NUtech Ventures.
The Emerging Innovator of the Year award recognizes an individual, often a junior faculty member, for recent innovation contributions. Dr. Weaver is developing a universal flu vaccine using an epigraph model, which has 16 components, rather than the typical four.
“My research focuses on designing and making the best influenza vaccines we can make. The diversity in influenza is a big challenge and we design the best immunogen vaccines, that we can get the best protection against the diversity of influenza,” said Dr. Weaver.
The goal of this research is to effectively protect against all known flu strains, resulting in vaccines that could be used for swine and humans.
“We also work on how we deliver the vaccine. How you deliver it is very important. We actually use viruses to deliver our vaccine. It’s kind of a tricky Trojan horse deal where we are taking a virus that causes mild colds and we attenuate it so it can’t replicate and cause disease. It actually delivers our influenza vaccine,” Weaver said.
Dr. Weaver’s goal is to greatly reduce the number of patients seen in the hospital due to influenza. By developing a more effective vaccine, not only could lives be saved, but the billions of dollars that are currently spent each year in healthcare costs due to influenza could be saved as well.