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KIE Director briefs Board of Directors on Zika virus

Institute Director and Senior Research Scholar Maggie Little was invited to brief the Faculty Relations Committee of Georgetown’s Board of Directors on the Zika virus epidemic and her grant-funded work on the ethics of vaccination and treatment. She spoke at the annual fall gathering of university leadership earlier this month.

Dr. Little is co-principal investigator on a £1.2 million multi-year grant from the United Kingdom’s Wellcome Trust. Together with colleagues at the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute; the University of North Carolina Center for Bioethics; the University of Washington School of Law; and the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, Little and colleagues at the KIE are working to develop and disseminate advice on the health interests of pregnant women with the Zika virus. The team’s work originated with a Georgetown Reflective Engagement grant.

Little’s presentation to the board focused on some surprising new facts that have come to light about the virus as the first identified cohort of babies born to Zika-infected mothers continues to grow, as well as ongoing debates about the best routes to vaccination to prevent the spread of the virus in pregnant and potentially-pregnant populations. “What we know now is just the tip of the iceberg,” she says.

“Maggie’s presentation was met with great interest from the Board of Directors,” says Marisha Wickremsinhe, a member of the grant team who was in attendance at the presentation, “not only because of the urgency of the Zika virus crisis, but also because the work to promote equitable inclusion of pregnant women in clinical research began right here, at Georgetown, in 2009.”

The grant team will soon travel to Argentina to share findings and guidance from their work at the Global Forum for Bioethics in Research (GFBR), where Little will also offer the keynote address.

Keep up with the grant team on Twitter for updates.

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