Wadsworth Center Lecture Series Explores Animal-to-Human Disease Transmission

Zoonoses topic of 14th Annual Public Lecture Series

ALBANY, N.Y. (April 17, 2008) - Scientists from the New York State Department of Health's Wadsworth Center will explore the relationship between human infectious diseases and diseases of animal origin in a series of five, free lectures beginning Wednesday, April 23, at 7 p.m., at the David Axelrod Institute, 120 New Scotland Avenue, Albany.

"This is an opportunity for the public to hear from world-class scientists right in our own back yard," said State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D. "The subject couldn't be more topical considering we are entering the season when New Yorkers will be spending more time outdoors and are more likely to be exposed to these diseases."

This year's speakers and topics are:

  • April 23 -- "Viruses, Animals & People: Travelers on the Zoonotic Disease Highway," with Charles V. Trimarchi, M.S.
  • April 30 -- "Influenza A: Consistently Ducking Our Immunity," with David Wentworth, Ph.D.
  • May 7 -- "SARS: The Threat That Succumbed to Science - For Now?" with Paul Masters, Ph.D.
  • May 14 -- "Here a Species, There a Species: Mosquitoes and Malaria," with Jan Conn, Ph.D.
  • May 21 -- "Out of the Blue: Mosquitoes and Emerging Viruses," with Laura Kramer, Ph.D., and Kristen Bernard, D.V.M., Ph.D.

Nearly 75 percent of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases in recent years have been transmitted to people directly or indirectly from animals. West Nile virus, rabies and monkeypox fall into this category of diseases, called zoonoses. Some zoonotic diseases move directly to humans from their animal reservoir, while others employ intermediaries, or vectors -- such as mosquitoes or ticks -- to transmit disease-causing agents.

"With so many of the emerging infections in recent years being among the zoonotic diseases, we are coming to recognize that protecting the public's health may well depend upon our ability to promptly detect, characterize and control these common disease agents," said Charles V. Trimarchi, senior scientist at Wadsworth's Griffin Laboratory and chief of the Laboratory of Zoonotic Disease and Clinical Virology.

"Zoonoses: Animal Diseases Affecting Humans" marks the 14th year that Wadsworth has offered a lecture series to educate the community about the science behind public health issues.

Lectures will cover basic concepts, including animal reservoirs, vectors, and transmission cycles, and will explore research at the scientific frontiers. Speakers are scientists who detect the disease-causing agents, diagnose the infections, and study the interplay of animals, people and the environment for clues to how disease transmission could be prevented or novel treatments developed.

Wadsworth's public lectures are modeled after Mini-Med Schools, which are public education programs or lecture series offered by medical schools, universities, research institutions and hospitals across the nation. The lectures share scientific expertise with the community that is free of jargon and full of the curiosity that drives these researchers to the laboratory bench day after day.

Pre-registration is not necessary, but a photo ID will be required at admission. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

For more information, including brief video clips of the speakers discussing their research, visit: www.wadsworth.org/educate/lecture_series/2008.html