Tackling a pandemic from all sides
With a second wave of the H1N1 virus anticipated in the fall of 2009, expertise on the subject is in high demand. Two University of Ottawa researchers have been front and centre in helping the public understand the virus from various perspectives.
Dr. Earl Brown is a virologist and professor at uOttawa’s Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Immunology. He is also the executive director of the Emerging Pathogens Research Centre at the University of Ottawa. Dr. Brown has spent much of his career examining the evolution of influenza viruses as well as the distinctions between other viruses — those we can defeat, and those we cannot avoid; those which are familiar, and those which are new; those that go unnoticed, and those that kill.
"This (novel H1N1 strain) is definitely a tricky virus," comments Dr. Brown. "It has shown signs that it can move outside the respiratory tract to other parts of the body, something regular flu viruses normally do not do."
Dr. Kumanan Wilson is a scientist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and holds the Canada Research Chair in Public Health Policy at the University of Ottawa. His research focuses on public health security issues such as immunization policy, health surveillance and preparing for potential pandemics.
“There are levels of complexity, explains Dr. Wilson. You have the virus that needs to be dealt with, but you also have issues surrounding mass immunization, particularly among health-care workers.”
Both of these exceptional uOttawa researchers are contributing their expertise that benefits both Canadians and the international community.
By François Rochon
Published: September 2009