How do infectious, deadly viruses like malaria, Zika and Ebola spread? Using innovative medical and genetics research, Harvard computational biologist, Dr. Pardis Sabeti is trying to find out.
“You start to think about nature as mathematical information,” explained Sabeti. “You get this sort of code and you have to decipher it. And I use computers and mathematics to decipher what’s going on in the code.”
Sabeti and her lab team have invented algorithms to better understand how infectious diseases mutate and spread – ultimately working to determine how they can be stopped, once and for all.
In 2014, when the Ebola epidemic began in West Africa, Dr. Sabeti and her team were able to quickly determine the virus was spreading from person to person and not from mosquito bites as first suspected. Their research saved countless lives.
Dr. Sabeti is also a staunch advocate for the importance of “open source” medical research – the sharing of proprietary data in real-time that can be used by the entire science community to innovate for the good of humanity rather than focusing on professional notoriety.
Dr. Pardis Sabeti: Sharing for the common goodHarvard computational biologist, Dr. Pardis Sabeti, uses mathematics to decipher how deadly viruses spread.
“In an outbreak, we don’t have time, we don’t have the luxury of time,” Sabeti said. “The best thing you can do is to get the data out there as soon as possible.”
Dr. Sabeti is hailed as one of the world’s greatest scientists. She was named Person of the Year (The Scientists) by Time Magazine in 2014 and recognized as “Rock Star Scientist of Harvard” for her groundbreaking Ebola research. But, as if all of her professional achievements were not enough, she is also the lead singer of the rock band Thousand Days and recently fought her way back to health from a devastating motor vehicle accident that left her stranded on a mountainside with a shattered pelvis and knees. She is, to say the least, an inspirational individual committed to revolutionizing the global health community.
From Boston, Dr. Pardis Sabeti joined Mike Walter in our New York studio to tell us more about her groundbreaking research.