Confronting Emerging Viral Threats: From HIV/AIDS to Zika

The upcoming Penn State Berks Science Colloquium will address a topic that is of utmost importance to healthcare professionsals: Confronting Emerging Viral Threats: From HIV/AIDS to Zika. Jose Esparza MD, PhD, of the Global Virus Network (GVN) and University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, will present this talk on Friday, April 1, 2016, at 1 p.m. in room 5 of the Luerssen Science Building. This event is free and open to the public.

According to the abstract, ?The fight between humans and viruses is old. Historically, epidemics of Smallpox and Yellow Fever devastated populations in The Americas in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In the twentieth century, new viral epidemics emerged (such as Influenza, Polio, HIV/AIDS, Dengue, and others) and we are still struggling to bring them under control. The main weapon used against viral diseases is vaccines. In this regard, the development of a vaccine against HIV/AIDS has been one of the most difficult challenges that medical science is confronting. New viral epidemics continue to emerge, including Ebola, Chikungunya and, more recently, Zika, all originating from Africa. These epidemics have shown that humankind does not appear to be prepared to detect and rapidly respond to emerging viral threats.?

In this talk, Dr. Jose Esparza will argue that today we have the scientific knowledge necessary to gain the fight against viruses, although we may not have the necessary political will to implement the necessary actions. He will explain that the Global Virus Network is an initiative that should protect us from current and future viral epidemics.

Esparza is the recently appointed President of the Global Virus Network (GVN). He is an Adjunct Professor of Medicine at the Institute of Human Virology, University of Maryland School of Medicine.

Born in Maracaibo, Venezuela, Esparza earned his MD degree from the University of Zulia in 1968. In 1974, he earned his PhD from the Department of Virology and Epidemiology of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. Esparza then joined the Venezuelan Institute of Scientific Research, in Caracas, where he became Full Professor of Virology, Chief of the Laboratory of Biology of Viruses, and Chair of the Center of Microbiology and Cell Biology.

In 1986, Esparza joined the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, Switzerland, working with several viral diseases with epidemic potential and in 1987 moved to the recently created WHO program on AIDS (UNAIDS), where he became the Coordinator of the joint WHO-UNAIDS HIV Vaccine Initiative. From 2004 to 2014, Esparza worked at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, in Seattle, WA, first as a Senior Advisor on HIV Vaccines and then as Senior Advisor on Vaccines.

Esparza has published more than 180 articles in virology, vaccinology, and AIDS. He is member of the Venezuelan Academy of Medicine and of several scientific advisory boards around the world. He has received several awards, including the 2013 Distinguished Alumnus Award from Baylor College of Medicine, the 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award for Public Service of the Institute of Human Virology, and the 2014 My Hero Award from AID for AIDS in New York.

The Science Division colloquia are of broad and general interest, accessible to a general audience. All students, faculty, and interested members of the Penn State Berks and surrounding community are welcome and encouraged attend.

The next Science Colloquium lecture will be held in conjunction with the fifth annual George J. Losoncy Lecture in Physics and Astronomy. Dr. Paul Mantica, a world-renowned nuclear physical chemist and the Deputy Project Manager of Facility for Rare Isotope Beams, a new scientific user facility for nuclear science at Michigan State University, will give a lecture titled "Facility for Rare Isotope Beams: Current Construction Status and Future Science Opportunities" on Friday, April 8, 2016, from 4:30?5:30 p.m. in the Perkins Student Center Auditorium. This event is free and open to the public, and it will be preceded by a reception in the Freyberger Gallery, in the Perkins Student Center, at 4 p.m., where light refreshments will be served.

For more information, contact the Penn State Berks Science Colloquium Coordinator Dr. Jianbing Qi, Associate Professor of Physics, at 610-396-6132 or via e-mail at [email protected].