In this edition of FOCUS In Sound, we meet Dr.
Pardis Sabeti, a geneticist who won a Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award
in the Biomedical Sciences in 2005, and has gone on to enjoy a very distinguished career, culminating this year in being named one of the 100 Most Influential People in America by TIME Magazine. That recognition follows her inclusion as one of TIME’s Persons of the Year in 2014, celebrating her role as an Ebola fighter. Although Pardis has a long list of accomplishments in her years of research on the genetics of infectious diseases, for this edition of Focus In Sound we want to concentrate on the incredible story of her work on Ebola. I’m sure everyone will recall how
Ebola nearly spun out of control in 2014, threatening a worldwide epidemic. That didn’t happen, fortunately, but the deadly disease claimed more than ten thousand lives in Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia before it was finally reined in by the heroic efforts of thousands of dedicated workers.
By rapidly sequencing the genomes of the Ebola Virus Disease particles present in the blood of dozens of West African victims, Pardis and her colleagues at the Broad Institute in Massachusetts played a central role in determining where the outbreak came from, how it was evolving, where it was likely to go, and how to bring it under control.