A new antiviral drug development center will be led by Scripps Research, one of nine National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases-sponsored Antiviral Drug Discovery Centers for Pathogens of Pandemic Concern.

The $67 million award over three years from the National Institutes of Health will be known as the Center for Antiviral Medicines and Pandemic Preparedness, according to the institute.

“The next global pandemic is a matter of ‘when’, not ‘if’, and with CAMPP we have a unique opportunity to prepare for that event,” said project co-lead investigator Sumit Chanda, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Immunology and Microbiology at Scripps Research.

The AViDD Centers program is one of the U.S. government’s responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and is aimed at the near-term development of drugs against viruses with high pandemic potential such as coronaviruses, Ebola, yellow fever and Zika.

“Bringing together outstanding virology expertise with the drug discovery infrastructure of Calibr really enables the critical drug combination tools we need for this pandemic and future pandemic threats,” said co-lead Arnab Chatterjee, Ph.D., vice president of Medicinal Chemistry at Calibr, Scripps Research’s drug development arm.

The new center’s portfolio will include later-stage programs that are expected to move through studies and clinical development over the course of the funding period, as well as highly innovative, early-stage ones. The center will build multidisciplinary research capabilities that can be rapidly refocused in a new pandemic situation, according to Scripps Research.

“The expertise we bring to this should allow us to develop efficient new methods as well as drugs targeting viral proteins that had been considered out of reach,” Chanda said.