Bat Man: Hunting Down COVID-19 and other Deadly Viruses

Bat Man: Hunting Down COVID-19 and other Deadly Viruses

Ira Pastor, ideaXme life sciences ambassador, interviews Dr. Linfa Wang, director of the Program in Emerging Infectious Diseases at the collaborative Duke-National University of Singapore Medical School in Singapore.

Ira Pastor Comments:

As we sit here in 2020 in the middle of the COVID-19 global pandemic, we’re hearing terms like “zoonotic disease,” “viral spillover,” “intermediate species,”as well as quite a bit of references to bats, the potential natural reservoir of COVID-19 virus.

As such, a leading global thought leader at the epicenter of these domains has taken the time out of his busy schedule to join us for our episode today.

Dr. Linfa Wang

Dr. Linfa Wang, PhD, is the director of the Program in Emerging Infectious Diseases at the collaborative Duke-National University of Singapore Medical School, in Singapore.

Dr. Wang obtained his PhD at the University of California, Davis and conducted his early research at the Monash Centre for Molecular Biology and Medicine In Australia.

In 1990, he joined the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL), where he played a leading role in identifying bats as the natural host of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) virus.

His research then extended from bat-borne viruses to better understanding of virus-bat interactions, and he led an international team carrying out comparative genomic analysis of bat species. They discovered an important link between adaptation to flight and bats’ ability to counter DNA damage as a result of fast metabolism and to co-exist with a large number of viruses without developing clinical diseases.

Dr. Wang’s work has been recognized internationally through various international awards, numerous invited speeches at major international conferences and many top scientific publications, including Science, Nature, Nature Reviews in Microbiology, Lancet Infectious Diseases and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), along with five patents and many invited book chapters.

Dr. Wang holds a number of honorary positions and memberships and has received numerous awards such as the 2014 Eureka Prize for Research in Infectious Diseases. In 2010, Wang was elected as a fellow of Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering in recognition of his expertise in new and emerging diseases.

Dr. Wang is also active internationally by serving on various editorial boards for publication in the areas of virology, microbiology and infectious diseases. He is currently the editor-in-chief of the Virology Journal.

On this episode we will hear from Dr. Wang about:

His background; how he developed an interest in science, emerging infectious diseases, and his focus on bats. An overview of zoonosis and zoonotic diseases with a focus on bats. Why bats carry so many pathogens and why many of the viruses transmitted by bats are highly lethal. His investigation into some of bats’ unique characteristics, such as resistance to viral diseases and longevity of life, and what this can teach us about improving human health. About his leading the development of a vaccine for horses to prevent transmission of the bat-borne Hendra virus to horses. His interest in the work of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), a new multi-sector consortium that aims to finance and coordinate the development of “public good vaccines.” His future visions and work as it pertains to COVID-19.

Credits: Ira Pastor interview video, text, and audio.

Follow Ira Pastor on Twitter:@IraSamuelPastor

If you liked this interview, be sure to check out our interview on Zoonotic viruses with the founder of EveryPig!

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