Discovering New Pathogens in Wildlife

For January 29, 2020 
               Please share this invitation with your friends
Hi WN@TL Fans,
While I was a grad student in plant pathology a few new types of plant pathogens popped up:  the spiroplasmas of horseradish, the double-stranded RNA viruses of button mushroom, the viroids of potato, among others.  
These likely were not truly new pathogens, but merely newly discovered. 
Even more ominous were the historic cases of plant diseases caused by familiar pathogens that had morphed in their host range, or that had been moved into a new geographic range, or that had evolved in their virulence. 
These cases had their human counterparts:  the puzzling rise of Black Death in 1348, the advance of syphilis in the Age of Exploration, the pandemic flu of 1918, the original ebola outbreak in 1976, the recognition of AIDS in 1982, the Mad Cow Disease of 1986 that led to variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans in 1996, to list but a few.  Many of these examples of novel human diseases also had animal vectors or had originated as diseases of animals other than humans, and then made their way from animals to humans, and then on to human-to-human transmission. 
We didn’t plan the Wuhan coronavirus  outbreak to coincide with this week’s talk, but it sure drives home the evolutionary gauntlet we run, the deadly dice we cast, the genetic slot machines we play.  
In the end, we know the diseases play us.
This week (January 29) Tony Goldberg of the School of Veterinary Medicine will speak on “Discovering New Pathogens in Wisconsin & Beyond.”  
He writes:
“The race is on to discover the world’s pathogens, driven by new diagnostic technologies and unprecedented access to remote locations. These technologies and field methods are revolutionizing our understanding of the diversity and distribution of wildlife diseases worldwide. 
“This talk describes how such an approach has revealed novel pathogens and their ecological transmission pathways in diverse wildlife systems in Wisconsin and beyond, sometimes by design and sometimes fortuitously. Examples from bald eagles to fish to chimpanzees highlight how the disease impacts the ecology and sustainability of wildlife populations, and how wildlife populations are evolving in response to disease threats. Adoption of such approaches is sorely needed in today’s rapidly changing global environment.”

Of particular interest to me is the description last fall of a new virus found in bald eagles living along the Wisconsin River. It’ll be good stuff.

About the Speaker:

Dr. Goldberg is Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Wisconsin Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, John D. MacArthur Research Chair at UW-Madison, and Associate Director for Research at the UW-Madison Global Health Institute. 
He received his B.A. from Amherst College (1990, Biology and English), his Ph.D. from Harvard University (1996, Biological Anthropology), and his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and MS in Epidemiology from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2000). 
Dr. Goldberg studies the ecology, epidemiology and evolution of infectious disease. His research combines field and laboratory studies to understand how disease-causing agents are transmitted among hosts, across complex landscapes, and over time. He combines these techniques with methods from the social sciences to understand the root drivers of disease emergence in real world settings. 
Dr. Goldberg’s strives to discover generalized mechanisms of pathogen transmission, emergence, and evolution. His overarching goal is to improve the health and wellbeing of animals and people while helping to conserve the rapidly changing ecosystems we share.

Next week (February 5)  Cameron Curie of Bacteriology returns to Wednesday Nite @ The Lab to report on the complex relationships between ants and the microbes they support on & within their bodies and within their colonies.  
Hope to see you this week at Wednesday Nite @ The Lab!
Tom Zinnen
Biotechnology Center & Division of Extension

UW-Madison:  5.8 million owners, one pretty good public land-grant teaching, research and extension university. 

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