SciCafe Special Event: Zika: What You Need to Know main content.

SciCafe Special Event: Zika: What You Need to Know

Thursday, June 30


You've heard the warnings: Zika is coming. There are a slew of guidelines for pregnant women, but how should the rest of us prepare for the arrival of this virus? What can science tell us about the Aedes mosquito that spreads Zika? And what steps are being taken to halt mosquito-borne viruses? Join Museum Curator Susan Perkins and a panel of experts as they discuss the latest plan of attack for dealing with this major disease threat.



W. Ian Lipkin is the John Snow Professor and Director of the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University. Over a period of 30 years, he has pioneered many methods commonly used in discovery and molecular epidemiology including subtractive cloning, quantitative and multiplex PCR, in situ hybridization, and high throughput sequencing. His team has identified and characterized hundreds of infectious agents including bornavirus, West Nile virus, human rhinovirus C, SARS coronavirus, MERS coronavirus, Bundigbuyo Ebola, and tilapia lake virus. He also developed new postulates for proof of causation that helped sever spurious links between MMR vaccine and autism, and XMRV and CFS. 

Catherine Spong, MD is the Acting Director of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development at the National Institutes of Health. In this role, she oversees research on pediatric health and development, maternal and reproductive health, intellectual and developmental disabilities, and rehabilitation medicine, among other areas. Dr. Spong received her M.D. from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Among her areas of expertise are maternal and child health, emphasizing prematurity, fetal complications, and improving child outcomes. She is board-certified in maternal-fetal medicine and obstetrics and gynecology. She is an editor of many books, including Williams Obstetrics. Her research awards include the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine Achievement Award and a Surgeon General’s Certificate of Appreciation for her work on premature birth. She has published more than 280 papers and been featured on national media.

Jay K. Varma, MD is the Deputy Commissioner for Disease Control at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Dr. Varma directs the public health laboratory and all infectious disease control programs for New York City, including HIV, tuberculosis, sexually transmitted infections, vaccine-preventable diseases, and general communicable diseases. His Division is one of the largest in the Department, employing more than 1000 staff, managing >$350 million, and operating 17 clinical facilities. Dr. Varma has authored 99 scientific manuscripts, six essays, and one book. In 2010, he was recognized as the US Public Health Service Physician Researcher of the Year; in 2011, he received the Distinguished Service Medal, the highest award in the US Public Health Service.

Susan Perkins (Moderator) is a microbiologist with three main areas of research. The first is the systematic, biogeographic, and molecular evolutionary study of the protozoan parasites that cause malaria, including those that infect non-human hosts. Her second main research focus is the study of symbiotic bacteria that are found in certain groups of blood-feeding leeches. This project involves both morphological and molecular work and will soon enter the realm of genomics, as the hope is to sequence the entire genome of one type of these symbionts. The third research focus is an examination of the patterns of genomics and geography, in relation to pathogenicity, of RNA viruses.



SciCafe Special Event: "Zika: What You Need to Know," The Secret World Inside You, and related activities are generously supported by the Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) program of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).