Founder of the Global Viral Forecasting Initiative
"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.
Viral Forecasting for Pandemic Prevention
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.
Angelo State University
Dr. Wolfe's two public lectures were terrific: engaging, entertaining, informative, and about pitch perfect for the audience. He truly is that rare combination of outstanding scientist and excellent public speaker. And, on a personal note, I was privileged to spend a lot of time with Nathan over the past two days, and he is fun and personable and smart and interested and just great to be around. I found it a great pleasure to get to know him a bit.
The Viral Storm: The Dawn of a New Pandemic Age
In The Viral Storm, award-winning biologist Nathan Wolfe tells the story of how viruses and human beings have evolved side by side through history; how deadly viruses like HIV, swine flu, and bird flu almost wiped us out in the past; and why modern life has made our species vulnerable to the threat of a global pandemic.
Wolfe's research missions to the jungles of Africa and the rain forests of Borneo have earned him the nickname "the Indiana Jones of virus hunters," and here Wolfe takes readers along on his groundbreaking and often dangerous research trips—to reveal the surprising origins of the most deadly diseases and to explain the role that viruses have played in human evolution.
In a world where each new outbreak seems worse than the one before, Wolfe points the way forward, as new technologies are brought to bear in the most remote areas of the world to neutralize these viruses and even harness their power for the good of humanity. His provocative vision of the future will change the way we think about viruses, and perhaps remove a potential threat to humanity's survival.