Press releases

European Commission awards internationally renowned epidemic early warning system

BNITM-Arbovirology and international partners receive 5 million euros

[Translate to English:] Portraitfoto Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit

Hamburg, 17 January 2022 - As a partner of a European consortium the Department of Arbovirology of the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine, headed by Prof. Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit, today received the European Commission Prize for its epidemic early warning system ‘EYWA’. The prize is endowed with five million euros and will be used to expand its established early warning system in Europe and the countries of the Global South.

Dr. Charalampos Haris Kontoes, Scientific Director of the Greek institution‚ National Observatory of Athens ‘(NOA), Greece, will receive the EIC Horizon Prize for‚ Early Warning for Epidemics on behalf of the international consortium, which also includes the Arbovirology Department of the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine (BNITM). A total of 15 partner institutes from five European countries can be proud on their joint success. At the BNITM, Prof. Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit, Head of Department of Arbovirology, and his colleague Dr. Renke Lühken, established the mosquito early warning system in Germany.

[Translate to English:] Portraitfoto Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit
[Translate to English:] Prof. Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit, Leiter der Abteilung Arbovirologie am BNITM. Foto: BNITM

In his congratulatory letter on the award, Philippe Tulkens of the European Commission, Head of Climate & Planetary boundaries, narrates that he was personally impressed by the development of the ‘EYWA’ early warning system. He was aware that this system could save many lives in Europe and beyond.

The Chairman of the BNITM, Prof. Jürgen May, is also delighted about the award: “This award by the European Union is a great success for the EYWA consortium and our Department of Arbovirology. It shows our great potential in the prevention of new infectious diseases for Global Health. The research groups at BNITM are excellently networked with international renowned scientists. Only in this way will global infection research be able to reach milestones.”

At least since the coronavirus pandemic an early warning system has been indispensable

[Translate to English:] Risikokarte für das Chikungunya-Virus in Europa. Grafik: Renke Lühken, BNITM
[Translate to English:] Risikokarte für das Chikungunya-Virus in Europa. Grafik: Renke Lühken, BNITM

The coronavirus pandemic has made it clear how indispensable it is to detect pandemics and epidemics at an early stage and to prevent them if possible. ‘This Early Warning for Epidemics award from the European Commission for our EYWA consortium will help to detect and prevent future outbreaks caused by zoonotic, i.e. animal-borne, viruses at an early stage‘, explains Schmidt-Chanasit. To this end, data would be collected, evaluated, and action-oriented findings made available to decision-makers.

The head of arbovirology sums up: ‘This is an important step to better protect people worldwide and to be able to better counter the danger of pandemics and epidemics in the future. The European Commission's decision confirms the strategy of the Arbovirology Department at BNITM to contribute to global health security.‘

Financial support for an early warning system 2.0 at the Bernhard Nocht Institute

Dr. Renke Lühken is a junior research group leader in the Department of Arbovirology and has been funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) since 2020. His research focus is on Arbovirus Ecology. As a modelling expert, he and his group have contributed significantly to the success of the BNITM early warning system for mosquito-borne pathogens, such as West Nile virus or Chikungunya virus.

“In cooperation with the European partners, the prize will now be used to further develop the current third-party funded projects of the Arbovirology Department for the development of early warning systems. A particular focus is on abiotic and biotic data collected in near-real time, which allows control measures to be implemented at short notice”, says Lühken, explaining his plans for the future.

[Translate to English:] Portraitfoto Dr. Renke Lühken
[Translate to English:] Dr. Renke Lühken, BMBF-Nachwuchsgruppenleiter Arbovirus-Ökologie. Foto: BNITM

Partners of the EYWA Consortium

1.      National Observatory of Athens – BEYOND Centre of Earth Observation Research and Satellite Remote Sensing,
Greece

2.      Ecodevelopment S.A., Greece

3.      University of Patras – Physics Department – Laboratory of Atmospheric Physics (LapUP), Greece

4.      Dmitiris Vallianatos (ID COM), Greece

5.      Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece

6.      University of Thessaly, Medical School, Laboratory of Hygiene and Epidemiology, Greece

7.      Istituto Zoonofilattico Sperimentale delle Venezie (IZSVe), Italy

8.      Edmund Mach Foundation, Italy

9.      University of Trento / Department of Mathematics, Italy

10.   EID Méditerranée, France

11.   Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine, Germany

12.   KABS e. V., Germany

13.   University of Novi Sad, Faculty of Agriculture, Laboratory for Medical and Veterinary Entomology, Serbia

14.   Scientific Veterinary Institute “Novi Sad”, Serbia

15.   University of Novi Sad, Faculty of Medicine, Serbia

 

About the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine

The Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine (BNITM) is a Leibniz Institute and Germany's largest institution for research, care and teaching in the field of tropical and emerging infectious diseases. Current research focuses on malaria, haemorrhagic fever viruses, immunology, epidemiology and clinic of tropical infections as well as the mechanisms of virus transmission by mosquitoes. For handling highly pathogenic viruses and infected insects, the institute has laboratories of the highest biological safety level (BSL4) and a safety insectarium (BSL3). BNITM includes the national reference centre for the detection of all tropical infectious agents and the WHO collaborating centre for arboviruses and haemorrhagic fever viruses. Together with the Ghanaian Ministry of Health and the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) it operates a modern research and training centre in the West African rainforest, which is also available to external working groups.

Contact person

Prof. Dr Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit

Head of Arbovirology/ Entomology Department

Phone : +49 40 285380-546

Email : schmidt-chanasit@bnitm.de

Dr Renke Lühken

Group Leader Arbovirology Ecology

Phone : +49 40 285380-862

Email : luehken@bnitm.de

Dr Eleonora Schoenherr

Public Relations

Phone : +49 40 285380-269

Email : presse@bnitm.de