Congratulations to some very bright students and faculty members at the University of Montana.

And some innovative thinking on vaccine research may be a key part of this recognition: UM has ranked among the top 10 universities on the  Successful Student’s list for “Best Universities Solving the Coronavirus Pandemic,” joining schools like Harvard and Oxford in its commitment to helping defeat the coronavirus.

The schools on the list are developing treatments, testing and diagnostics, contagion mapping, contact tracing, data collection and analyses, and education for the COVID-19 pandemic. UM received the recognition for its vital vaccine research, conducted in the Center for Translational Medicine.

The Center's director, Jay Evans, says it’s nice to be recognized in this way. The COVID-19 pandemic has created terrible human and economic costs in 2020. But scientists around the world have mobilized for this fight, and it’s exciting to be working toward a possible solution. Evans’ research team received $2.5 million from the National Institutes of Health to develop a COVID-19 vaccine candidate in February. Evans said the research now is at the preclinical vaccine development stage.

A total of 45 faculty, research staff, postdocs, graduate students and undergraduate interns comprise the center’s vaccine research team. The team has identified several promising lead vaccine candidates that are rapidly advancing through safety and efficacy testing. UM’s vaccine research is unique in its use of new adjuvants, which help boost the immune system’s response to vaccines and will increase the duration of protection against COVID-19.

We wish them the best as their research continues to move forward.