The Genomics of the Flu Bug

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The UA College of Science's spring lecture series on genomics continues tonight with Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Professor Michael Worobey talking about "The Genesis of the 1918 Spanish Influenza Pandemic." The teaser from the College of Science:

The Spanish influenza pandemic of 1918 was the most intense outbreak of disease in human history. It killed upwards of 50 million people (most in a six-week period) casting a long shadow of fear and mystery: nearly a century later, scientists have been unable to explain why, unlike all other influenza outbreaks, it killed young adults in huge numbers. I will describe how analyses of large numbers of influenza virus genomes are revealing the pathway traveled by the genes of this virus before it exploded in 1918. What emerges is a surprising tale with many players and plot lines, in which echoes of prior pandemics, imprinted in the immune responses of those alive in 1918, set the stage for the catastrophe. I will also discuss how resolving the mysteries of 1918 could help to prevent future pandemics and to control seasonal influenza, which quietly kills millions more every decade.

The free lecture at UA Centennial Hall starts at 7 p.m., but get there early—your fellow brainy Tucsonans typically fill every seat in the house. More details on the series here.

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