Disease Migration

Darwin College Lecture Series
Professor Eva Harris, University of California, Berkeley
LMH, Lady Mitchell Hall
Friday, February 16, 2018 - 17:30 to 18:30

Dengue and Zika are mosquito-borne viral diseases that consitute major public health and medical problems worldwide. Dengue has been a scourge for decades and only continues to increase in magnitude, geographic distribution, and severity, whereas Zika recently took the world by surprise with a dramatic epidemic in the Americas that was linked to severe congenital defects, including microcephaly, when infection occurred during pregnancy. In this lecture, “Migration of dengue and Zika viruses: Across continents, around cities, and within the human host”, we will explore the concept of “migration” as applied to dengue and Zika on multiple levels. First, we will examine the emergence and spread of these viruses seen through both epidemiological and phylogenetic lenses, through studies of human populations and viral sequences. Next, we will focus on spatial studies of dengue and Zika transmission in our cohort study of children in Managua, Nicaragua, where we have observed differences in Zika virus transmission at a hyper local level, allowing identification of hot-spots and environmental risk factors. Finally, we will turn to “migration” of dengue and Zika viruses within the human body, via studies of intrahost diversity of these RNA viral sequences in different bodily compartments as well as visualization of Zika virus invasion of the human placenta. Through this unusual interpretation of the concept of migration, we hope to introduce multiple themes in research and public health of these important human infectious diseases.


Dr. Eva Harris is a Professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology in the School of Public Health, Director of the Center for Global Public Health, and Chair of the Infectious Diseases and Immunity Graduate Group at the University of California, Berkeley. She has developed multidisciplinary approaches to study the virology, pathogenesis, immunology, epidemiology, clinical aspects, and control of dengue, Zika, and chikungunya, the most prevalent mosquito-borne viral diseases in humans. Specifially, her research addresses immune correlates of protection and pathogenesis, viral and host factors that modulate disease severity, and virus replication and evolution, using in vitro approaches, animal models, and observational studies involving human populations. This has been achieved through her research program at UC Berkeley and in Nicaragua and other endemic Latin American countries, where she has worked extensively for almost 30 years. In 1997, she received a MacArthur Award for work over the previous ten years developing programs to build scientific capacity in developing countries to address public health and infectious disease issues. This enabled her to found a non-profit organization in 1998, Sustainable Sciences Institute (SSI; www.sustainablesciences.org), with offices in San Francisco, Nicaragua, and Egypt, which works to improve public health in developing countries by building local capacity for scientific research on priority diseases. Dr. Harris was named a Pew Scholar for her work on dengue pathogenesis. She received a national recognition award from the Minister of Health of Nicaragua for her contribution to scientific development and was selected as a “Global Leader for Tomorrow” by the World Economic Forum. She has published over 240 peer-reviewed articles, as well as a book on her international scientific work.

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