The adventures of Dr. Nathan Wolfe, one of the new generation of epidemiology stars in academia, were recently featured in the New York Times. (Read the full October 20, 2008 article, Deep in the Rain Forest, Stalking the Next Pandemic, from the New York Times.) Wolfe travels to tropical climes looking for ways to prevent pandemics from starting.
On the same day the article appeared, Wolfe's Global Viral Forecasting Initiative (GVFI) received $11 million from Google's philanthropic arm and from the Skoll Foundation to continue the work.
During a recent visit to Fogarty offices before giving an NIH-wide lecture, he credited the Center with launching his career by having given him a six-year International Research Scientist Development Award (IRSDA) and the prestigious NIH Director's Pioneer Award.
"Nathan is a perfect example of how Fogarty's small seed money helped a young scientist flourish and leverage an initial grant into more than $20 million from other sources," said Fogarty Director Dr. Roger I. Glass.
"Most epidemiologists agree - and worry - that the world is overdue for another dangerous flu pandemic," says Dr. Larry Brilliant, Executive Director of Google.org. "The cutting-edge work of Nathan Wolfe and his network of public health stars may be one of the world's best bets to prevent the next pandemic."
Wolfe holds the Lorry I. Lokey Visiting Professorship in Human Biology at Stanford University. He received his bachelor's degree from Stanford in 1993 and his doctorate in Immunology and Infectious Diseases from Harvard in 1998.
Through collaborative studies in Cameroon, China, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lao PDR, Madagascar, and Malaysia, GVFI tracks emergent pandemics to their source, working to provide potentially vital months or years of advanced warning before the next HIV or SARS emerges on the global stage.