The College of Science presents the second of six free lectures on "Genomics Now." Current research is changing how we view DNA, the molecule essential to all life. This new series will explore advances in genomics research including the genetic roots of disease and pandemics, how agriculture can satisfy our hungry planet, the role of the environment in individual development, and how genetic mutation impacts species' survival.
Michael Worobey, UA professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, will give a talk titled "The Genesis of the 1918 Spanish Influenza Pandemic." 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.
Worobey 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. He will also discuss how resolving the mysteries of 1918 could help prevent future pandemics and control seasonal influenza, which quietly kills millions more every decade. Parking is available on a pay-per-use basis in the Tyndall Avenue garage.