MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE – The world-renowned viral experts at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the nation’s premier pediatric cancer research institution, are available for media booking opportunities for stories related to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

The virus experts available range from a legendary virologist with a 65-year research career dubbed “The Flu Hunter” by Smithsonian Magazine to a member of the World Health Organization’s flu vaccine composition team, and infectious disease and immunology researchers spearheading the development of an NIH-funded, universal influenza vaccine.  

As the COVID-19 global health pandemic enters into a new phase with ongoing vaccine development, tracking the virus evolution and any potential changes, reopening of economies and fear of a second wave coinciding with flu season this fall, the following St. Jude experts are available to discuss expertise related to their fields of study:

Famed virologist and international flu expert and chair emeritus of St. Jude’s Department of Infectious Diseases, called “The Flu Hunter” in a Smithsonian Magazine profile piece. The author of 2018 book, “Flu Hunter: Unlocking the Secrets of a Virus”, he predicted a global pandemic is “not only possible, it is just a matter of when.”  

Dr. Anthony Fauci, as quoted about Dr. Webster in the Smithsonian Magazine profile, “He’s certainly one of those people in this field who have been way ahead of the curve in bringing attention to this issue.  He was out ahead of the pack. He’s one of the handful of people who have not only been sounding the alarm, but working to prevent this thing from turning into something that nobody wants to see happen.”

Research interests and expertise: Historical view of influenzas and pandemics

One of a select group of scientists responsible for making recommendations for which flu vaccines will be put into circulation each year.  

Dr. Webby is a member of the Infectious Diseases Department at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the World Health Organization’s Vaccine Composition Team. 

Research interests and expertise: Influenza virus ecology; Influenza vaccinations; Influenza virus pathogenicity; Determinants of host susceptibility to influenza

Researchers in St. Jude’s Infectious Disease and Immunology Departments who are spearheading the national development of a universal flu vaccine.  

Funded by the National Institute of Health, St. Jude was awarded $130 million last year to coordinate with a team of over a dozen other universities and research institutions to develop and create a universal flu vaccine that will be as effective for people with underlying conditions, including obesity, as the healthy.

Research interests and expertise:  Novel vaccines and therapeutics; Innate and Adaptive Viral Immunity; Viral Pathologies and Healing Responses 


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St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is leading the way the world understands, treats and cures childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. It is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children. Treatments developed at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20 percent to 80 percent since the hospital opened more than 50 years ago. St. Jude freely shares the breakthroughs it makes, and every child saved at St. Jude means doctors and scientists worldwide can use that knowledge to save thousands more children. Families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing and food — because all a family should worry about is helping their child live. To learn more, visit or follow St. Jude on social media at @stjuderesearch.