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February 06, 2006

The flu hunter

Many thanks to the reader who let me know that the Smithsonian Magazine is running a profile of Robert Webster in its latest issue: The Flu Hunter.

Robert Webster is the world's preeminent expert on avian influenza. A virologist at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, he helped create the first widespread commercial flu vaccine decades ago. It was Webster who discovered that birds were likely responsible for past flu pandemics, including the one in Asia in 1957 that killed about two million people. Perhaps Webster's greatest contribution to science is the idea that global influenza epidemics begin when avian and human flu viruses combine to form a new strain, one that people lack the ability to fight off.

Very much worth reading.

Posted by dymaxion at February 6, 2006 10:21 PM

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