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Five decades of work in my laboratories at Tulane, Cornell, Mount Sinai and New York Medical College - during a period that included 2 pandemics (in 1957 and in 1968) and two pandemic threats (in 1976 and 1997) - on a virus undergoing continual evolution, has resulted of necessity in the accumulation of a large inventory of both wild type (wt) native strains and reassortants and mutants related to their study. On most of these viruses careful records have been kept and samples retained for further study. Our inventory has revealed that 181 different viruses have survived their move between laboratories and are available for continued study.
Several of these viruses have been studied very thoroughly and the Archive is perhaps skewed in the over-representation of these, their progeny and related mutants.
On the other hand, many of those viruses listed have received only limited attention but present opportunities for study as future and perhaps related viruses emerge and new technological approaches are developed.
Thus, the Archive does not pretend to be a comprehensive library of 20th century influenza viruses. One must look to the CDC, WHO, and other components of the NIAID collection for a more representative sample of strains, and even those collections contain many gaps.
I urge all investigators as they conclude their laboratory investigations, as I just have, to similarly inventory, catalogue, and create archives of their stocks so that a single repository can be found for these important relics with the objective of facilitating future investigations.
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