Professor Stefan Gravenstein has collaborated with researchers at Vilnius University in Vilnius, Lithuania since the early 1990’s, beginning only a few short years after the “iron curtain” came down, in a program that was inspired by the Sister Cities relationship between Vilnius University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Professors Arvydas Ambrozaitis, Ligita Balciuiene Jancoriene, and Tomas Kačergius have been instrumental in both friendship and effort to this undertaking. Work has included catalyzing the establishment of an institutional review board for Lithuania with standards for consenting across national borders, virus culture and molecular labs for Vilnius University, multiple joint research projects, medical student exchanges with Vilnius University and support for several Fulbright scholars.
Gravenstein has mentored for several PhD candidates from Vilnius University, three of whom now have leadership positions within Vilnius University as chairs for departments of Infectious, Chest Disease, Dermatoveneorology and Allergology, Vilnius University Hospital Centre for Infectious Diseases, Microbiology section of the Department of Physiology, Biochemistry, Microbiology and Laboratory Medicine, leading HIV work at the national laboratory. Among notable research projects include those evaluating influenza in long-term care settings in the context of both vaccines and antiviral use and more recently in the evaluation of iNOS antisense to mitigate inflammatory response to influenza infections, the basis for two theses leading to PhDs at Vilnius University. Professor Gravenstein continues to find points of collaboration related to the theme of influenza and aging in work with his Lithuanian counterparts.