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Nathan Wolfe | Expert on the spread of pandemics worldwide
Lavin Exclusive Speaker

The Indiana Jones of virus hunting, Nathan Wolfe travels the world to track, study, and eradicate the next pandemic before it strikes. One of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World, this Viral Storm author draws on his break-through discoveries to tell us where viruses come from, why they spread, and how to stop them.

“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’sWeekly) 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.


Dr. Wolfe is the Founder & 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. Dr. Wolfe received his doctorate in Immunology & Infectious Diseases from Harvard in 1998. He was the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship in 1997 and the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award in 2005. He was named a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader in 2009, a National Geographic Emerging Explorer in 2010, and one of the Time 100 in 2011. Dr. Wolfe has published 90 technical articles and book chapters, and his work has been published in or covered by NatureScienceThe LancetPNASJAMAThe New York TimesThe EconomistThe Wall Street JournalTechCrunchWiredScientific AmericanNPRThe New YorkerNational Geographic Magazine, and Forbes. Dr. 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

Speech Topics

Before They Strike 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, 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.