Globalization — including increased air travel, international trade, urbanization and environmental changes — open the world’s population to outbreaks of old communicable diseases and emerging new ones. At the same time, disease microbes are becoming more resistant, decreasing the effectiveness of medicines used to treat them.
The 1918 Flu pandemic killed over 50 million people – two percent of the world’s population at the time. In today’s world, where people are more mobile and the globe is more densely populated, such an outbreak would kill in excess of 150 million people worldwide. UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health’s Ralph Baric, Ph.D., is among a small cadre of people across the globe working to keep this from ever happening again.
Dr. Baric and his team are world leaders in coronavirus and influenza virus research. They have developed new models of vaccine development for diseases including SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome), Zika, a variety of influenza strains and West Nile virus. His focus on preventing these diseases before they can gain hold in the population has led to groundbreaking innovations and unique partnerships that can help fast-track his discoveries.