February 6, 2018

Flu Fighter: Dr. James Crowe is leading a global effort to take the guesswork out of the flu shot

From Vanderbilt Magazine: James Crowe, director of the Vanderbilt Vaccine Center, hopes to create a universal flu vaccine–permanently eliminating the problem of ineffective or under-effective annual flu shots.

Along with the blast of arctic air that put much of the U.S. into a deep freeze at the start of 2018, the new year also ushered in one of the most widespread—and deadly—flu seasons in recent memory.

One of the reasons for such misery arose because this year’s flu shot proved particularly ineffective against the H3N2 strain affecting most of those who fell ill. While this latest scourge pales in comparison to the 1918 flu pandemic that killed as many as 50 million people a century ago, it does highlight the dilemma scientists face each year as they try to guess far in advance which strains to guard against with an immunization.

Dr. James Crowe, director of the Vanderbilt Vaccine Center, hopes to solve this problem by eliminating the guesswork altogether.