This week, from February 23-25, the GHO was delighted to host Ab Osterhaus, world-leading researcher and virology professor from the Netherlands. Osterhaus was the recipient of this year’s Chanchlani Global Health Research Award, created by the Chanchlani family and McMaster in 2012 to recognize a leading scholar in the area of global health.
On February 25, Dr. Osterhaus delivered his dynamic lecture From Zoonosis to pandemic in a changing world to students and faculty at McMaster. Highlighting viruses like measles, Ebola, and chikungunya, Osterhaus emphasized the importance of vaccines – and the dangers of the anti-vaccine movement – in controlling outbreaks of infectious diseases.
His presentation explored the threat of interspecies transmissions and the possibilities of mutations in new and existing viruses – a very timely topic given recent reports that the measles virus currently circulating in Ontario is a variant previously unknown to the WHO.
During the course of his career, Dr. Osterhaus has discovered over 50 new viruses in humans and animals, and his influential work has enabled health authorities including the WHO to combat outbreaks like SARS, MERS, and avian influenza.
In addition to receiving the Chanchlani Award and delivering a roundtable talk to students, Osterhaus consulted with researchers of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research and met with those involved in the MSc in Global Health program.