Each year in the United States, there are nearly 20 million cases of norovirus that result in up to 800 deaths. And CALS researchers are working hard with partners across the country to slash those numbers.
For its significant accomplishments, NoroCORE — a massive integrated agriculture-public health collaborative initiated and led by Lee-Ann Jaykus — recently won the 2017 USDA-NIFA Partnership Award for Innovative Programs and Projects.
The award recognizes “a project that uses a unique combination of resources and disciplines to enact positive outcomes in response to important regional or national issues. In a major breakthrough, the [NoroCORE] team successfully cultured the human norovirus in intestinal cells, which may lead to new vaccines and treatments,” according to NIFA.
Jaykus, William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor in NC State’s Department of Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences, and CALS Dean Richard Linton attended the awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 12.
Jaykus launched NoroCORE (which stands for USDA-National Institute of Food and Agriculture Food Virology Collaborative) in 2011 with a $24.8 million award, one of the two largest grants ever issued by NIFA in support of food safety work.
The project focuses on reducing the burden of norovirus illness by combining the three land-grant missions of research, education and outreach. The NoroCORE team has established a true multidisciplinary research network; characterized disease burden (21 million norovirus cases per year in the U.S.); and engaged in outreach efforts with countless government and industry stakeholder groups.
The purpose of this large project is to develop practical solutions to a significant public health threat.
“As a food microbiologist myself, I have known about and admired Dr. Jaykus’ work for a very long time,” Linton said. “I am proud that she is being recognized by USDA for her leadership of the NoroCORE project. She has done a masterful job of partnering with other universities, the food industry and governmental organizations to find better ways to identify, detect and control our number-one food safety challenge — the human norovirus.”