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CDC and Dengue Research

Dengue is often called “a neglected disease.” Scientists have been researching a dengue vaccine for decades, but production of a successful vaccine has been very challenging. Public health aspects of vector-borne diseases are a unique strength of CDC, and dengue virus research has long been a major activity of the agency. DVBD’s Dengue Branch in San Juan, Puerto Rico, is the world’s largest research unit devoted solely to finding better ways to prevent and control dengue.

Scientist Behind the Vaccine

“I was born and raised in Taiwan. In 1987, after finishing my master’s degree in biochemistry, I became interested in dengue vaccine research while working in a virology lab in Taiwan. That year, a major dengue outbreak occurred in southern Taiwan, and one occurred every year after that.”

“I became convinced that a vaccine is the best way to prevent this mosquito-transmitted disease. CDC and Colorado State University (CSU) are two leading institutes that study mosquito-borne viruses, including dengue, so I came to CSU for my PhD. In 1997, I had an opportunity to join the CDC program for dengue vaccine development and have since continued to pursue my life-long passion to make a vaccine that will protect people from all four types of dengue.”—Dr. Claire Huang, Division of Vector-Borne Diseases

Getting Ready for the Vaccine

Recently, CDC and other dengue experts gathered in Puerto Rico for the Dengue v2V (vaccine to vaccination) international meeting. The goal of the conference was to outline steps for the introduction of a dengue vaccine once licensed. “Puerto Rico was a relevant venue for this meeting given its location and experience with both endemic and epidemic dengue activity,” said Dr. Harold Margolis, chief of the Dengue Branch and co-chair of the meeting. “In addition to mosquito control measures, a dengue vaccine is seen as the best way to effectively control dengue,” he said. The meeting in Puerto Rico is part of the ongoing efforts of Dengue v2V to ensure that a dengue vaccine, once licensed, is readily available to those who need it most.

The objectives of Dengue v2V include documenting the human and economic impact of dengue; providing guidance regarding vaccine adoption strategies based on clinical, epidemiologic, other technical data; and making recommendations about the introduction of a dengue vaccine for routine and catch-up immunization.