The year 2018 marks a century since a devastating influenza pandemic claimed the lives of an estimated 50 to 100 million worldwide. Experts at the University of Pennsylvania are on hand to comment on the historic toll of the 1918 flu as well as on current scientific and medical research aimed at curbing the impact of a future pandemic.
Dr. Lautenbach’s research focuses on antibiotic use, antimicrobial resistance, outbreak investigation and epidemiologic methods in the study of infectious diseases. He is also the co-principal investigator of the Penn-CHOP U.S. Centers for Disease Control and CDC Prevention Epicenter, one of 10 academic medical centers to be designated as a CDC Prevention Epicenter site. Dr. Lautenbach can speak to what’s happening with the current flu outbreak, particularly with regard to vaccines.
Jessica Clark is an archivist at the Barbara Bates Center for the Study of the History of Nursing, which aims to increase understanding of the importance and role of the field’s history in helping shape and develop the modern health-care system. Beginning in the summer of 2018 and continuing through the end of the year, Clark is embarking on a project to digitize the large collection of news clippings, nurse manager ledgers and notes from the period when the flu pandemic of 1918 hit Philadelphia hardest.
For almost 35 years, Mark Frazier Lloyd has run the University’s Archives and Records Center, which houses more than 250 years’ worth of historical documentation about Penn. This includes books, photos, and ledgers about the 1918 flu pandemic and Philadelphia at the time. Lloyd can speak to what was happening in the city leading up to the influenza outbreak, particularly at the two local health-care institutions of the day, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Philadelphia General Hospital.
Patricia D’Antonio is a historian whose research focuses on nursing's influence on public health and the development of many of today's health-care norms. Her current work, which looks at early-20th-century health-demonstration projects in the United States, has shown that nurses were central to promoting healthy practices, including regular physicals, prenatal and dental care, and hearing and eye checkups.
Joshua Plotkin uses mathematics and computation to study questions in evolutionary biology and ecology, primarily concerning how populations adapt. His interests include the evolution of robustness and adaptability, the evolutionary ecology of viral populations, the nature of genetic drift, the dynamics of protein translation, and the evolution of social norms. His research has used a mathematical lens to examine how mutations arise in the influenza virus, with implications for how vaccine strains should be selected.
Scott Hensley’s lab has focused on how the influenza virus accumulates mutations from year to year to create new viral strains that are able to infect humans. He’s also looked at factors that influence the responsiveness of the flu vaccine. His work has implications for how the strains for seasonal flu vaccines are selected and produced.
In her role as PADLS Resident Director, Lisa Murphy is responsible for oversight of all PADLS New Bolton Center laboratories: toxicology, mammalian pathology, poultry, and microbiology. She is also responsible for maintaining PADLS’ accreditation from the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians (AAVLD). Murphy can speak to PADLS’ avian flu monitoring program.
Paul Offit is an internationally recognized expert in virology and immunology and was a member of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He is a founding advisory board member of the Autism Science Foundation and the Foundation for Vaccine Research, a member of the Institute of Medicine and co-editor of the foremost vaccine text, Vaccines.