Zika Virus: Virginia Tech Experts Available to Provide Context on Infectious Diseases, Immigration, Other Areas

Article ID: 659454

Released: 19-Aug-2016 3:05 PM EDT

Source Newsroom: Virginia Tech

Expert Pitch
  • Credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

    A female Aedes aegypti mosquito seen in the process of acquiring blood from a human host. They are not only annoyances but also potential carriers of disease, including the Zika virus.

Virginia Tech has a variety of experts available to provide context about Zika and other infectious diseases.
Health Security, Infectious Disease, Immigration PolicyRebecca Hester, Assistant Professor, Department of Science and TechnologyHester's research focuses on policies related to global health security with an emphasis on infectious diseases and vector-borne illness. She also does research on immigration and national security policies in Latin America and the United States. She has served on academic panels discussing Ebola and is currently working on a book that illuminates and evaluates policies that address "biological danger" in the United States.
Brain Neurons, Zika VirusAndrea Bertke, Assistant Professor of Infectious Diseases, Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary MedicineBertke is building on previous research on how viruses target neurons and how different neurons can control or limit a virus' impact on them. For Zika virus, specifically, she is looking at the differences between neurons in an adult brain, which can control the virus, and fetal brain cells, which are most affected by the virus. Bertke has partnered with the Biocomplexity Institute of Virginia Tech to analyze Zika virus strains isolated from South America, where virus infection correlates with increased fetal brain abnormalities, compared to strains in Africa, where there are no reported abnormalities.
Infectious Disease Modeling, Disease Transmission, Pandemic Response ModelingBryan Lewis, Research Associate Professor, Biocomplexity Institute of Virginia TechLewis leads a team creating computer simulations that lead to understanding the transmission dynamics of infectious disease and modeling responses to pandemics.
Biochemistry, Mosquitoes, GeneticsJake Tu, Professor of BiochemistryTu studies genes that turn biting female mosquitoes into males and explores genetic strategy to stop the transmission of Zika virus by reducing the number of female mosquitoes.
Jinsong Zhu, Associate Professor of BiochemistryZhu examines how certain chemicals used in pesticides could inhibit the development of eggs in mosquitoes that spread Zika virus.
Infectious Disease Modeling, Epidemic Simulation StudiesStephen Eubank, Deputy Director, Network Dynamics and Simulation Science Laboratory at the Biocomplexity Institute of Virginia TechEubank is the principal investigator on multiple epidemic spread simulation studies, including the NIH-funded Modeling Infectious Disease Agents Study (MIDAS). His areas of expertise include computational epidemiology and simulating large socio-technical systems.
Genome Mapping, Mosquito Species, Biological Roles and MechanismsIgor Sharakhov, Assistant Professor of EntomologySharakhov studies mechanisms and biological roles of chromosomal rearrangements and works on improving genome maps of various mosquito species including Aedes aegypti, which transmits Zika virus.
Maria Sharakhova, Assistant Professor of EntomologySharakova studies mechanisms and biological roles of chromosomal rearrangements and works on improving genome maps of various mosquito species including Aedes aegypti, which transmits Zika virus.
Infectious Disease Data and AnalysisRebecca Wattam, Research Assistant Professor, Biocomplexity Institute of Virginia TechWattam works with the Pathosystems Resource Integration Center, an information system which supports the research community's work on infectious disease via data and analysis tools.
Entomology, Infestation Mapping, Insect IdentificationEric Day, Manager, Insect ID Lab, Department of Entomology Day is an expert in the identification of insects and helps map infestations around the United States.
For interviews, contact Bill Foy at 540-231-8719 or 540-998-0288
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