Viruses & infectious diseases: Prof Edward Holmes public lecture

This talk on 12 September by Prof Edward Holmes, who has published a number of Nature papers on viruses, will discuss what we have learned since the 1918 influenza pandemic and 40 years since the last death from smallpox.

Presented by Professor Edward Holmes, Fellow UK Royal Society, ARC Australian Laureate Fellow

Professor Holmes, who holds joint positions in the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, and Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity, Sydney Medical School, is a world leader in the area of virus evolution.

His research focuses on the emergence of novel infectious diseases, including those that pose a threat to Australia, and the mechanisms by which pathogens species to cause epidemics.

In this Sydney Science Forum (free public lecture) on Wednesday 12 September 2018, Prof Holmes will uncover the amazing world of viruses, consider why people don’t get sick from most viruses in the environment, and discuss the origin and cause of tick-borne disease in Australia. It will include a brief overview of the centenary since the 1918 influenza pandemic and touch on the last death because of smallpox in 1978.

Prof Holmes won last year’s NSW Premier’s Prize, biological sciences category, in recognition of his pioneering use of phylogenetic methods – studying the origin and evolution of viruses – which has greatly improved our ability to predict and control infectious diseases.

Recent high-impact work has included:

  • Almost 1500 viruses uncovered in invertebrates, revealing that we have only scratched the surface of the world of viruses, published in Nature.
  • Ancient origin of viruses found to date back to the first vertebrates including fish, published in, Nature.
  • Oldest sample of variola virus casts shows smallpox could be hundreds, not thousands of years old. Media release about paper in Current Biology.
  • The rare disease tularemia, thought to be non-existent in Australia, discovered in ringtail possums in Sydney. Media release about Prof Holmes’s supervisory research as corresponding author of this paper in Emerging Infectious Diseases.

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