The World Reference Center for Emerging Viruses and Arboviruses (WRCEVA) is a large, diverse collection of many different emerging viruses and viral reagents. Now located at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB), the WRCEVA was originally founded as part of an effort by the Rockefeller Foundation in the early 20th century to understand viral ecology, epidemiology, and pathogenesis.
International laboratories established in diverse locations sent their virus isolates to a repository in New York until the program ended in the 1960s. The collection was then moved to Yale University, where support from the National Institutes of Health allowed the continued growth and diversification of the WRCEVA. In 1995, the WRCEVA came to UTMB where it has continued to expand and adopt new technologies such as deep sequencing, cryo-electron microscopy, and improved antigenic characterization to facilitate our core missions:
Maintenance and distribution of emerging viruses, arboviruses, and associated reagents
The WRCEVA is home to a collection of over 6,700 virus strains, encompassing 21 viral families. These viruses, along with associated antigens and antibodies, represent a critical resource that the WRCEVA distributes to the research and surveillance community free of charge to facilitate the response to new and continuing outbreaks.
Discovery, isolation, and characterization of newly acquired viruses
The WRCEVA works with clinical and field samples to isolate, identify, and characterize new viral strains. The WRCEVA also gladly accepts deposits of new or unique virus strains from other researchers to facilitate their distribution to the global research and surveillance community.
Training scientists in the identification and characterization of emerging viruses and arboviruses
To enhance research efforts in the U.S. and abroad and to foster collaborations, the WRCEVA provides basic training in the identification and characterization of emerging viruses is provided to qualified scientists.
Amélia Paes de Andrade Travassos da Rosa
Amelia joined UTMB and the World Reference Center for Emerging Viruses and Arboviruses in 1998 and worked in the serology section for 19 consecutive years until her retirement in April 2017. During her time at UTMB, Amelia played an important role in the identification of several novel arthropod-borne viruses and contributed to the publication of more than 110 manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals, including the New England Journal of Medicine, Emerging Infectious Diseases, and the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene among others. Prior to joining UTMB, Amelia served as the Director of the Arbovirology and Hemorrhagic Fever section at the Instituto Evandro Chagas in Belem, Brazil where she led ecological and epidemiological investigations of arthropod-borne viruses, many newly discovered, that resulted in 135 publications. These papers are still considered the best source of information about arboviruses and associated diseases in the Amazon Basin. Following her retirement from UTMB, Amelia returned to her home country Brazil and suddenly passed away on December 4th, 2017 after a brief illness. Amelia will be remembered forever by her colleagues not only for her tremendous contribution to arbovirology but also for her remarkable generosity and genuinely loving and humble spirit.