The University of Montana must have made a very good impression on the National Institutes of Health.

The institutes have awarded UM a $10 million dollar contract to develop a new universal flu vaccine. The five-year award went to Dr. Jay Evans, director of UM's Center for Translational Medicine.

Influenza virus infection is a serious public health problem that causes severe illness and sometimes death in high-risk populations. And while vaccination remains the most effective way to prevent the disease, mismatches between vaccine strains and circulating flu strains can lead to a sharp drop in vaccine effectiveness.

Dr. Evans says that he and his team of vaccine researchers have spent more than 10 years working on the discovery and development of new components that can be added to a vaccine to improve the immune response.

Our congratulations to these fine University of Montana researchers. Here's hoping their work leads to more effective and versatile flu vaccinations.

DB