International Team Publishes Breakthrough Research Sequencing Ebola Strain Despite the Deaths of Five Team Members

ebolaThere is a chilling international report out of this week on the origins of the 2014 Ebola outbreak. Researchers from the United States and Africa were able to trace the origins of the outbreak to a funeral in Guinea. The report expanded the data on Ebola by 400 percent. However, the standard listing of authors on the study have a chilling notation, a “‡” designation for “Deceased.” Five team members died in the effort to trace this Ebola stain and the release of the report honors their extraordinary sacrifice.

The team sequenced 99 Ebola virus genomes collected in the 2014 outbreak by locating and diagnosing 78 patients in Sierra Leone during the first 24 days of the outbreak. They found that the 2014 Ebola virus genomes contain over 300 mutations that distinguish them from previous outbreaks. The strains indicate that they separated from the original Middle African version in the last 10 years. The first outbreaks were recorded in in Nzara in Sudan, and in Yambuku in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) along the river Ebola (hence its name). This strain was traced to 12 people who attended the same funeral in Guinea.

The list of authors and team members include the five who died to get the world this information:

Stephen K. Gire*, Augustine Goba,*,†, Kristian G. Andersen*,†, Rachel S. G. Sealfon*, Daniel J. Park*, Lansana Kanneh, Simbirie Jalloh, Mambu Momoh, Mohamed Fullah,‡, Gytis Dudas, Shirlee Wohl, Lina M. Moses, Nathan L. Yozwiak, Sarah Winnicki, Christian B. Matranga, Christine M. Malboeuf, James Qu, Adrianne D. Gladden, Stephen F. Schaffner, Xiao Yang, Pan-Pan Jiang, Mahan Nekoui, Andres Colubri, Moinya Ruth Coomber, Mbalu Fonnie,‡, Alex Moigboi,‡, Michael Gbakie, Fatima K. Kamara, Veronica Tucker, Edwin Konuwa, Sidiki Saffa, Josephine Sellu, Abdul Azziz Jalloh, Alice Kovoma,‡, James Koninga, Ibrahim Mustapha, Kandeh Kargbo, Momoh Foday, Mohamed Yillah, Franklyn Kanneh, Willie Robert, James L. B. Massally, Sinéad B. Chapman, James Bochicchio, Cheryl Murphy, Chad Nusbaum, Sarah Young, Bruce W. Birren, Donald S. Grant, John S. Scheiffelin, Eric S. Lander, Christian Happi, Sahr M. Gevao, Andreas Gnirke, Andrew Rambaut, Robert F. Garry, S. Humarr Khan,‡, Pardis C. Sabeti

The courage and commitment of these researchers is inspiring in the face of such a lethal threat. They (like so many health workers who have died) represent the best of us. While we often discuss the grotesque actions of terrorists like Islamic State, we can forget that there remain people like these heroes who put themselves at mortal risk to help humanity.

The publication in Science states:

In memoriam: Tragically, five co-authors, who contributed greatly to public health and research efforts in Sierra Leone, contracted EVD in the course of their work and lost their battle with the disease before this manuscript could be published. We wish to honor their memory.

Source: Science

10 thoughts on “International Team Publishes Breakthrough Research Sequencing Ebola Strain Despite the Deaths of Five Team Members”

  1. RWL I noticed some historically inaccurate stuff in a summery I read of his book. Kissinger didn’t dime out Nixon. That’s just inaccurate.

  2. RWL: Remember, don’t sing the note A, above middle C, for more than 12 seconds or you will cause the psychoimmune OM to implode and suck us all into the square root of Ommpa Loompa Land.

  3. I have deep respect for those who research this dread disease, and those who care for Ebola patients.

    I wonder how these 5 died – sequencing the genome, where lab safety failed, or traveling throughout the continent tracing the origins, coming into contact with infected people.

    They made a tremendous sacrifice.

  4. Prof. JT and all:

    Before doing any more stories on Ebola, please read the following book:

    ‘Emerging Viruses: AIDS & EBOLA: Nature, Accident, or Intentional’ (1989 & 1996 ed).

    By Dr. Leonard Horowitz

    This text is so thorough and accurate that the New York Times editors and review team are afraid to comment, question, and/or debate Dr. Horowitz’s findings!

    The CDC refuses to comment on Dr. Horowitz’s findings!

  5. Kudos to all who worked on this project. This is what you get a Nobel for, except only live people get Nobels.

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