Speaker Bio: “Virus Hunter” Nathan Wolfe rethinks pandemic control for our globalized world. By concentrating on how epidemic diseases—such as HIV, SARS, and West Nile—all stem from human contact with infected animals, he is able to discover new threatening viruses where they first emerge. According to Wired magazine, “Wolfe’s brand of globe-trotting echoes an almost Victorian scientific ethic, an expedition to catalog the unseen menagerie of the world.” His debut book, The Viral Storm, is an “engrossing and fast-paced chronicle of medical exploration and discovery” (Publisher’s Weekly) that take readers from the jungles of Africa to Wolfe’s state-of-the-art labs, shedding light on the often overlooked but ultimately critical field of microbiology.
In 2009, Rolling Stone named him one of their “100 Agents of Change”, and Google and the Skoll foundation have given him over $11 million in funding—making Wolfe, a Stanford University professor, a man poised to eradicate pandemics before they even happen.
Abstract: Current global disease control efforts focus largely on attempting to stop pandemics after they have already emerged. This fire brigade approach, which generally involves drugs, vaccines, and behavioral change, has severe limitations. Just as we discovered in the 1960s that it is better to prevent heart attacks then try to treat them, over the next 50 years we will realize that it is better to stop pandemics before they spread and that effort should increasingly be focused on viral forecasting and pandemic prevention. In this talk I discuss how novel viruses enter into the human population from animals and go on to become pandemics. I then discuss attempts by my own research group to study this process and attempt to control viruses that have only recently emerged. By creating a global network at the interface of humans and animals we are working to move viral forecasting from a theoretical possibility to a reality.
Co-sponsored in part by the Center for Global Studies, a National Resource Center with funding from the U.S. Department of Education.
Funded by the Student Organization Resource Fee.
For more information, visit http://globalhealth.illinois.edu/