A GVN Summer Internship Testimonial

A GVN Summer Internship Testimonial

Sofia Krause, a Senior at Greenwich Academy in Connecticut
September 22, 2022

The past 2 months, I had the unique opportunity to serve as a research intern for the Global Virus Network (GVN). Entering this internship, I had many expectations and envisioned many opportunities for learning and developing. My assignments for GVN included creating a research poster, helping to develop a website that aims to educate the general public about Monkeypox, designing an infographic, meeting many incredible individuals through interviews and team meetings, and learning about prevalent viruses of interest. I also hosted a virtual lunch, gained a broader understanding of different career paths, curated daily news articles, and composed many essays that I can read, reflect on, and learn from in the coming years.

 

In reflecting on the many opportunities over the course of my internship, creating a research poster and developing a site sparked my interest and curiosity most deeply. Over the past 2 months, I had the opportunity to research Monkeypox, a virus of increasing concern and one that has recently been declared a global health emergency. The central goal of the site is to provide relevant resources and information to educate the public about Monkeypox. It seeks to provide the most current, and relevant information in a manner that is easily understood and accessible.

 

I also developed for the site a research poster that investigated both the specific treatment techniques against Monkeypox and the similarities in the genomes of Smallpox and Monkeypox, my central research question being: How can the Smallpox vaccine afford roughly up to 85% protection against Monkeypox, and what about both viruses allows them to be similar enough to do so? Through my research, I found that both genomes are linear, double-stranded DNA molecules, and both viruses are cytoplasmic, meaning that the pathogen directly infects the host cell but the pathogen’s DNA is not integrated into the nucleus of the host cell. Due to these similarities, both poxviruses share enough genetic likeness to afford some level of protection. Additionally, I researched the Jynneos vaccine, the ACAM2000 vaccine, and the antiviral drug TPOXX against Monkeypox.

I learned much about virology and research over the course of my internship, but, through this experience, I also became a better public speaker and researcher, and a stronger communicator and critical thinker. Creating the research poster, infographic, and site, and curating the daily news articles helped make me a more compelling researcher and analyst. The team meetings, conversations, interviews, and presentations also made me a more confident public speaker.

 

Coming into this internship just a short 2 months ago, I felt set on the idea of pursuing either a career in research or going to medical school. Those aspirations have not changed, but, through all of the experiences I had at GVN, the possibility of pursuing a career in public health and public health policy has become very intriguing to me.

 

I would undoubtedly recommend this internship to any student interested in science, as it truly gave me the opportunity to step out of my comfort zone in virology research, and scientific discussions to learn the many aspects of a career in virology that are seldom taught in the classroom.

This experience has exceeded my expectations, exposed me to aspects of science and research that I never imagined I would have the opportunity to explore and has equipped me with incredibly important skills that I can bring into my future.

Here is a link to the demo site: https://gecko-quillfish-4egj.squarespace.com/

SARS-CoV-2 variant BA.2.75.2 enhanced antibody escape

September 19, 2022

At the GVN, we constantly keep an ear to the ground on new viral threats. Last summer, we monitored the diffusion of SARS-CoV-2 variant BA.2.75. So far, that variant has not spread at rates that cause further concern. Recently, however subvariant, BA.2.75.2 has appeared, characterized by a broad antibody escape profile. While data on its fitness are still lacking, the GVN wants the virology community to be aware of this potentially problematic new variant. https://t.co/hMrn0shNBC

Langya Virus

August 15, 2022

A sentinel surveillance study in China has detected the zoonotic Langya henipavirus (Paramyxoviridae) in 35 patients. RNA of the virus was found in 27% of shrews in the wild, revealing a potential animal reservoir. Zoonotic transmission is the first step potentially leading to “jumps” across species. Currently, there is no evidence of human-to-human transmission of this virus, and none of the documented infections resulted in fatality. Nonetheless, this underscores the necessity for zoonotic surveillance programs, prompt dissemination of data, and international collaboration to quickly assess the potential for outbreaks of new, emerging viruses, all of which the GVN aims to support.

World Hepatitis Day 2022

Hundreds of millions of people worldwide are affected by viral hepatitis. Chronic hepatitis B and C are estimated to affect half a billion of people. Many more are affected by acute hepatitis, especially in developing countries, resulting in significant symptoms, including death. Recently, clusters of cases of non A-E viral hepatis have raised concerns, and a potential link with adeno (and adeno-associated) viruses is being explored. The GVN is pursuing its mission of connecting and supporting scientists worldwide in their research on viral causes of human diseases, including viral hepatitis. On World Hepatitis Day, the GVN community stands with the many people affected by the disease, with a determination to find effective cures and vaccinations for all forms of viral hepatitis.

GVN Statement on SARS-CoV-2 Variant BA.2.75

There is some concern about the new SARS-CoV-2 variant BA.2.75. Very preliminary data on this variant suggests high growth advantage when compared to earlier variants. The N460K mutation in the Spike protein has been suggested as distinctive, conferring growth advantage to pseudotype virions. Epidemiologists around the world are aware of this variant, and the GVN will be monitoring all available data to determine its prevalence. The take-home message is that new SARS-CoV-2 variants are continually emerging, so research must focus on developing vaccines that elicit durable and broadly effective immune responses (both in terms of antibodies and T cell breadth) that can block a wide spectrum of variants.

Global Virus Network (GVN) Launches Task Force to Combat Monkeypox Global Outbreak

Unusual outbreaks of monkeypox via human-to-human have been reported in the US, Australia, the UK, Spain, Portugal, and other European countries; While the transmission of monkeypox from animals to humans is well known, the increasing number of community transmission cases simultaneously occurring worldwide may represent an urgent pandemic threat.

BaltimoreMaryland, USA, May 20, 2022: A higher incidence of human-to-human monkeypox transmission in varying geographical regions is alarming global health officials.  While the transmission of monkeypox from animals to humans is established and known, the growing number of community transmission cases worldwide is a potential pandemic threat. The Global Virus Network (GVN), representing 69 Centers of Excellence and 11 Affiliates in 37 countries, and comprising foremost experts in every class of virus causing disease in humans and some animals, today announced the formation of the GVN Monkeypox Task Force.  The new GVN Task force, which is expected to grow, will urgently bring together GVN researchers to explore the growing number of monkeypox cases worldwide. The announcement was made today by Christian Bréchot, MD, PhD, President of the GVN, Associate Vice President for International Partnerships and Innovation at University of South Florida (USF), and Professor, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Internal Medicine at the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine, the GVN Southeast U.S. Regional Headquarters.

“The GVN is concerned about the recent growing number of monkeypox cases, given that the chain of transmission is still unknown,” said Prof. Bréchot.   President of the GVN, and a Professor at the University of South Florida. “Although the virus is known to rarely cause human-to-human transmission, its potential growing spread in the community is a major concern. Our critical response to this outbreak is a rapid identification of viral infection to prevent further transmission.  We support current organizations such as the World Health Organization and stand ready to serve as global first-responders to this dangerous virus and operate as an international clearinghouse to educate, inform and disseminate critical information to governments, health organizations, healthcare practitioners and the public-at-large.”

Today, Germany was the latest to report its first case of the virus, in addition to numerous cases detected in the U.K., Spain, Portugal, France, Belgium, Italy, Sweden, the U.S. and Australia.  While we can identify cases linked to travel from Africa, where monkeypox is endemic, more recent infections are thought to have spread in the community, giving serious concern for broader global outbreak.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Monkeypox is a viral zoonosis (a virus transmitted to humans from animals) with symptoms very similar to those seen in the past in smallpox patients, although it is clinically less severe. With the eradication of smallpox in 1980 and subsequent cessation of smallpox vaccination, monkeypox has emerged as the most important orthopoxvirus for public health. Monkeypox primarily occurs in Central and West Africa, often in proximity to tropical rainforests and has been increasingly appearing in urban areas. Animal hosts include a range of rodents and non-human primates.

About the Global Virus Network (GVN)

The Global Virus Network (GVN) is essential and critical in the preparedness, defense and first research response to emerging, existing and unidentified viruses that pose a clear and present threat to public health, working in close coordination with established national and international institutions. It is a coalition comprised of eminent human and animal virologists from 69 Centers of Excellence and 11 Affiliates in 37 countries worldwide, working collaboratively to train the next generation, advance knowledge about how to identify and diagnose pandemic viruses, mitigate and control how such viruses spread and make us sick, as well as develop drugs, vaccines and treatments to combat them. No single institution in the world has expertise in all viral areas other than the GVN, which brings together the finest medical virologists to leverage their individual expertise and coalesce global teams of specialists on the scientific challenges, issues and problems posed by pandemic viruses. The GVN is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. For more information, please visit www.gvn.org. Follow us on Twitter @GlobalVirusNews

Media Contact:

Nora Samaranayake, GVN

[email protected]