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EPI Research Day 2021

Dec. 18, 2020: An invitation to celebrate pathogens research, from EPI Director J. Glenn Morris, Jr, MD & MPH

EPI Research Day 2021

This image of Research Day 2020 was taken before social distancing or mask-wearing had become the norm at the University of Florida. 

A letter from EPI Director J. Glenn Morris

How drastically our world has changed since the last EPI Research Day event in February 2020. Then, we gathered freely in a large hall, only a short time before social distancing entered the mainstream lexicon, and we talked to row after row of poster presenters with little thought of the respiratory aerosols or droplets emitted from our speech and laughter. Our focus was mosquito-borne viruses and spillover events. In the time since, our entire world has been fundamentally changed by a virus, though not one that arrived inside a mosquito’s bite. The SARS-CoV-2 virus has proved remarkably efficient at replicating in our airways and riding the current of our exhaled breath to those nearby — whether colleague, kin, or passerby. We all knew a pandemic like this was a possibility, though perhaps some among us underestimated the possibility of finding ourselves in the population of susceptibles.

When it was clear that COVID-19 was coming our way, EPI’s researchers rapidly adapted their laboratories, retooled their agendas, and cranked out grants to study this new virus that exploded across the globe and into Florida. But while this pandemic has no doubt brought tragedy, fear, and sorrow in its wake, it has also brought opportunity: it has focused attention on pathogens research and public health with an intensity not seen in the past century. And rightly so, because it is only by understanding the dynamics of virus-host interactions and host transmission that we can uncover the knowledge needed to craft strategies and therapies to mitigate a novel illness.

In this spirit of celebrating and appreciating pathogens research, the EPI is pleased to invite interested researchers to participate in our fourteenth annual Research Day. In keeping with public health protocols discouraging large in-person gatherings, this event will be virtual. The past year has demonstrated the enduring value of studying infectious agents — no matter how seemingly obscure — their hosts, and the factors that either thwart them or fuel their success. We encourage all those interested to submit an Abstract and register for EPI’s Research Day 2021.

— J. Glenn Morris, Jr, MD & MPH

Research Day poster 2021 flyer for event with speaker info

Keynote Speakers

Andrew P. Dobson, DPhil. Andy Dobson is an ecologist whose research focuses on the role that pathogens and diseases play in natural ecosystems. He uses a mixture of fieldwork, mathematical models and data analysis. Dobson has worked on conservation and disease issues in Serengeti, Tanzania and Yellowstone for the last 30 years. He also works on emerging pathogens and the ecological and economic conditions that lead to these outbreaks. He has long term interests in the evolution of social systems in primates, elephants, and carnivores and how this impacts the population dynamics of their interactions with parasites and human exploitation. 

Dobson is external faculty at the Santa Fe Institute where he works on problems in complexity: how parasites impact the structure of food webs and models for the immune system. He also uses time in Santa Fe to write ecological books for a broader audience

  • Talk title: Ecology, Economics, and Evolution of Emerging Pathogens

Philippe Sansonetti, MD, received training in infectious diseases in Parisian hospitals and training in bacterial genetics at Institut Pasteur, Paris, and later at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research as a postdoctoral scientist. He is currently an emeritus professor at Institut Pasteur and at the College de France, and a chief scientist at Institut Pasteur, Shanghai. Sansonetti is a foreign member of the US National Academy of Sciences.

Sansonetti pioneered the field of cellular microbiology by deciphering the molecular and cellular mechanisms of Shigella pathogenesis. He more recently applied similar approaches to decipher the symbiotic mechanisms established between a host and its gut microbiota. His work on Shigella vaccine development brought him close to global health issues in low-income countries, particularly in Africa. 

  • Talk title: Microbes without borders: Tensions on the 20th-century paradigm of public health

Learn More

Please visit EPI’s Research Day page to submit an Abstract, register, and view the schedule.