The Viral Storm
The Dawn of a New Pandemic Age
As climate change affects the way viruses spread, the efforts of Nathan Wolfe—the Indiana Jones of virus hunting—are more necessary than ever. Author of the bestselling Viral Storm, Wolfe travels the globe to track and eradicate the next pandemic before it strikes. One of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World, Wolfe is a hands-on scientist and biotech entrepreneur, which feed into his exhilarating talks on how data, drugs, tools, and tech are changing the future of health.
Scientist and “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 discovers 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. It was published in six languages and shortlisted for the Royal Society’s Winton Prize.
Wolfe is the Founder and former CEO of Metabiota, the pioneering risk analytics company that improves the world’s resilience to epidemics. He holds the Lorry I. Lokey Business Wire Consulting Professorship in Human Biology at Stanford University. Wolfe received his doctorate in Immunology & Infectious Diseases from Harvard and is the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship, as well as the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award. He has been named a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, and a National Geographic Emerging Explorer. Wolfe has published over 90 technical articles and book chapters, and his work has been published in or covered by Nature, Science, The Lancet, PNAS, JAMA, The New York Times, The Economist, The Wall Street Journal, TechCrunch, Wired, Scientific American, NPR, The New Yorker, National Geographic Magazine, and Forbes. Wolfe has over eight years of experience living and conducting biomedical research in Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. His endeavors have attracted grant, contract and investment support totaling over $100 million.
“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.”Angelo State University
Whether it’s about cutting off epidemics at the pass, or assessing a company’s insurance needs, Nathan Wolfe has faith in his ability to both see threat and manage the risk involved in any ambitiously-scaled project. Based on his years of risk analysis, Wolfe founded the company Metabiota, which revolutionizes the way companies with huge stakes in the game can prepare themselves for risk transference. In this fascinating and timely talk, Wolfe instructs audiences in the importance of risk transfer for the future of civilization. Increasingly, data, technology, and AI are underwriting the way we perceive catastrophe, natural disasters, and epidemics. As Wolfe shows, the threats faced are substantive—from climate change to cyber-attacks. You will learn how the technical revolution and all the benefits of that can be addressed when it comes to assessing risks—to yourself and the planet. Brilliant, bracing, and of-the-moment, Wolfe will provide you with the knowledge and tools that can help you be more resilient in the face of risk—and thrive as you take it on.
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, Wolfe discusses how novel viruses enter into the human population from animals and go on to become pandemics. He then explains attempts by his 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, Wolfe is working to move viral forecasting from a theoretical possibility to a reality.