September 7, 2016

History; Pathogenesis; Vaccine Search
Count Me In! Click Here to Register



Dan Barouch, MD, PhD

Professor of Medicine
Harvard Medical School
Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard
Director, Center for Virology and Vaccine Research
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

Clubhouse Location:
Wine & Cheese: SOM Commons Area
Presentation: WHSCAB Auditorium
Moveable Feast Agenda:
6:00pm — wine, cheese, networking at SOM
6:30pm — meeting convenes at WHSCAB

The first meeting of the 2016-2017 VDC Season is almost here so let's get rolling!

  1. Register NOW for the 2016-2017 VDC season opener
  2. Forward this message to new colleagues/students who recently moved to our region and might be interested in the VDC
  3. Get all jazzed up about attending the September meeting.

Dear Vacciners,
In addition to the Rio Olympics (Hello Simone Biles and Katie Ledecky! Fare you well Michael Phelps! See you later Ryan Lochte?), a few other major things happened over the summer.

First: WHSCAB Plaza was declared off limits for large gatherings. Something about structural integrity of the floor…. Not to worry though; Jane has arranged for us to gather before and after the presentations right next door in the commons area of the School of Medicine building. That means that, for the time being, our VDC meetings are going to be a Moveable Feast!

Specifically, we will begin each monthly meeting at 6:00pm by gathering in the SOM Building common area for wine/cheese/fruit and networking and then move next door to WHSCAB Auditorium when the cowbell rings at 6:30pm for an intellectual banquet of ideas, and then head back past the fountain to SOM afterwards for a casual buffet dinner and dissection of the evening's presentation.

So don't forget to wear your Fitbit because MY guess is that this is all simply some sort of sly public health initiative on the part of Emory University to ensure that we Vacciners and our guests get our steps in for the day…

NOTE: As part of the test drive for this new reality Jane has decided that, for the September meeting, she will serve dinner BEFORE the presentation, and nothing afterwards. The new normal "wine/cheese (SOM), presentation (WHSCAB), dinner (SOM)" schedule will begin in October.

Second: The CDC reported multiple outbreaks of various bad things, none of which were vaccine preventable and all of which mean that snacking on raw pancake batter is now officially considered to be a Risky Idea along with handling cute things (tiny turtles), co-habitating with mother earth things (backyard poultry), and ingesting loco-vore things (raw organic milk, alfalfa sprouts). Sigh.

Third and Worst: The first babies with Zika-related birth defects were born in the U.S.

As excerpted from this interesting Zika timeline by Lecia Bushak, Zika was first isolated in Uganda in 1947 – where it was named for Uganda's Zika Forest (Zika means "overgrown" in the Lugandan language), first described in the literature in 1952, first shown to cause human disease in 1964, and caused its first major outbreak in 2007 (island of Yap, in the Micronesian Caroline Islands, probably imported by an infected tourist who passed it on to local mosquitoes).

Since then Zika has quite thoroughly joined the arsenal of horrific diseases (yellow fever, dengue, and chikungunya) carried by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes and, as we have learned all too well, begun causing paralysis (Guillain-Barré syndrome) and devastating neurological trauma (microcephaly compared to normal babies, other neuro problems that might only appear later in seemingly unaffected infants).

The Good News: Unless they hitch a ride on an airplane, automobile, or ship, Ae. aegypti generally do not travel more than 500 feet from where they were born, so infected mosquitoes tend to clump in clearly defined 'neighborhoods'

The Bad News: Humans generally travel quite a bit farther than 500 feet on any given day and so new Zika 'neighborhoods' can pop up anywhere a Zika-infected human and a [previously uninfected] Ae. aegypti mosquito can interact. So far, those US neighborhoods have been restricted to Puerto Rico and Miami but here is a map of where that is likely to grow to include in the future.

The Political News: Pretty much like everything else in public health, Zika has become highly politicized. Even as the governor of Florida is worried that diagnostic help has been too slow in arriving, citizens of the Florida Keys are mounting a fierce opposition to the release of genetically modified male mosquitos whose sperm contains genes that will keep those mosquitoes' babies from surviving to adulthood and having babies of their own.

While some people might say that combatting Zika by releasing a mosquito-borne agent that damages mosquito babies so much that they can't grow up to reproduce themselves is tantamount to fighting fire with fire, some Florida Keys residents don't see it that way. As one resident said: "Hurricanes, bring them on; long-timers here seldom evacuate. Mosquitoes, well, that's the price of paradise. Zika, this too shall pass, like dengue. But science and government, I'm not so sure about."

Quote of the Day:
"The brain that should be there is not there"
(Note: This quote by Dr. Deborah Levine refers to babies infected with Zika in utero, NOT to the above-mentioned Florida Keys resident).


Funny that you should ask! For your interactive meeting pleasure Dan Barouch, our presenter at the September Vaccine Dinner Club, is the senior author of an influential article in Nature, published at the end of June, describing progress in a search for a Zika vaccine (search for it at "Vaccine protection against Zika virus from Brazil" Nature (2016, Jun 28) doi:10.1038/nature18952. PMID: 27355570.) He is also featured in this cool article in the New Yorker magazine: "The Race for a Zika Vaccine" by Siddhartha Mukherjee AND in the IAVI report available here.

So, want to hear more about Zika and the search for a vaccine directly from Dr. Barouche? Sign up TODAY for the 2016-2017 VDC season opener (and forward this message to all your interested friends and colleagues; they should come too.)

Hope to see you for dinner at the Club on September 7*,
-- Kimbi Hagen, Your friendly neighborhood VDC Director/Goddess

*Don't forget to come by SOM first at 6:00pm