A 2014 Merck-ICAAC Young Investigator Award has been given to Vincent Munster, Ph.D., National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), National Institutes of Health (NIH), for his work as a rising leader in emerging viral diseases. According to Heinz Feldmann, NIAID, NIH, Munster’s “expertise is uncommon and incorporates the best approaches in experimental and field work investigating high and maximum containment pathogens.”
Munster received his Ph.D. in virology from Erasmus University, Rotterdam in 2006. During his Ph.D. research in Ron Fouchier’s laboratory, Munster studied the ecology, evolution, and pathogenesis of avian influenza viruses. He continued his training in the Department of Virology at the Erasmus Medical Center where he focused on pathogenicity and human-to-human transmission of influenza A viruses. For this research, Munster was awarded the European Scientific Working Group on Influenza Best Body of Work Award for Young Scientists. In 2009, Munster joined the NIH’s Laboratory of Virology at the Rocky Mountain Laboratories as a visiting fellow to expand his research interest in the ecology of emerging viruses to include filoviruses and henipaviruses.
In 2013, Munster established the Virus Ecology Unit as an independent tenure-track investigator at NIH’s Rocky Mountain Laboratories. The mission of the Virus Ecology Unit is to elucidate the ecology of emerging viruses and define the drivers of zoonotic and cross-species transmission. Since starting his own laboratory, Munster has primarily been involved in the response to the ongoing MERS-CoV outbreak by developing animal models to study its’ pathogenicity and to develop countermeasures. He also studies the virus in its’ natural and intermediate hosts.