News

Origins of an outbreak

It was late January 2020 when Maciej Boni realized that the COVID-19 pandemic was about to take over his life. Boni, associate professor of biology, is an epidemiologist with extensive expertise in viral evolution, including a recent focus on human and avian flu. When COVID-19 hit, he tapped into a network of colleagues around the world, quickly joining an international team intent on tracking the outbreak to its origins.

Exploring variations in herpes virus symptoms

Why do some people with cold sores around their lips experience painful lesions, while others have no symptoms at all, yet still spread the virus? A new study conducted at Penn State finds that these differences could be due to variations in the way certain strains of herpes simplex (HSV-1) — the virus that causes cold sores, as well as genital herpes — activate gene expression in neurons.

Penn State virologist Szpara to co-host COVID-19 vaccine education town halls

Moriah Szpara, associate professor of biology and of biochemistry and molecular biology at Penn State, will co-host two COVID-19 vaccine education town halls at 7 p.m. EST on Wednesday, March 31, and Wednesday, April 7, with Benhur Lee of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

Ottar Bjørnstad elected to Norwegian Academy of Sciences and Letters

Ottar N. Bjørnstad, distinguished professor of entomology and biology and J. Lloyd & Dorothy Foehr Huck Chair of Epidemiology at Penn State, has been elected to the Norwegian Academy of Sciences and Letters. Bjørnstad was recommended as a result of his significant contributions to the fields of population ecology and quantitative epidemiology.

Tool can provide swine producers with early diagnosis of often-fatal 'Strep zoo'

A team led by researchers in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences has developed a diagnostic test that can identify virulent forms of the swine bacterial pathogen Streptococcus equi subspecies zooepidemicus — often referred to as "Strep zoo" — which can cause severe illness and death in pigs, other animals and rarely people.

Matt Ferrari named director of Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics

Matt Ferrari, who was closely involved with multiple aspects of University and community efforts to address COVID-19, has been tapped as the new head of CIDD.

Lab Bench to Commercialization grant recipients announced

Two faculty members have been selected to receive Lab Bench to Commercialization (LB2C) grants from the Eberly College of Science in 2021. The competitive program provides funding for researchers in the college, enabling them to enhance the commercial potential of ongoing research and prepare them to translate their intellectual property to the marketplace.

Another common cold virus?

If it becomes endemic — circulating in the general population — and most people are exposed in childhood, SARS-CoV-2 may join the ranks of mild cold-causing coronaviruses that currently circulate in humans.

Wolf social group dynamics matter for infectious disease spread, models suggest

By modeling wolves in Yellowstone National Park, researchers have discovered that how a population is organized into social groups affects the spread of infectious diseases within the population. The findings may be applicable to any social species and could be useful in the protection of endangered species that suffer from disease outbreaks.

Elizabeth McGraw named head of Department of Biology

Elizabeth McGraw, professor and Huck Scholar in Entomology and director of the Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics (CIDD) at Penn State, has been named the new head of the Department of Biology.