Shari writes:

As a graduate student with Michael from 2002-2006, I can say not only is he a fantastic virologist, he is the best mentor I have ever had. And be sure to check out the bobble-head in his likeness in his office. He was awarded this as part of a mentorship award he received last year. Enjoy!

molly writes:

hello team twiv,

hello. i am a long-time listener and avid fan of TWIV. I had the great fortune to attend the live taping of TWIV (Cal Bears Go Viral) in Berkeley and was excited to meet Vincent face-to-face. Thanks for the visit out West, Vincent. We hope to see you again soon.

as a follow-up to TWiV 228 (Cal Bears Go VIral) I wanted to address a point brought up by Vincent regarding whether or not eradication of dengue would be possible, given an effective vaccine can be developed. As Eva (Dr. Harris) alluded to, there is in fact documented sylvatic cycles of all 4 serotypes of dengue (in forest-dwelling primates). Similar to other viruses (HIV comes immediately to mind), there have only been a handful of cases where sylvatic DENV (Dengue Virus) has successfully spilled over and established itself in the human population, causing the four pandemic serotypes currently circulating in humans. There is a nice review in Nature Microbiology from a group of important DENV virologists that summarizes our current understanding of sylvatic dengue:

on a side note, you should really get Eddie Holmes (one of the authors of this review listed above) on TWiV. you won’t be disappointed.

It’s interesting that, on rare occasion, direct infection of humans with sylvatic strains has been associated with symptomatic disease, including severe dengue disease (DHF).

It may be that more sylvatic infections than the handful that have been directly observed are occurring, but we simply don’t know about them as current screening methodologies (antibody-based and nucleic acid-based) would pick these up but would not distinguish them from the current 4 human pandemic serotypes.

In light of all this, dengue eradication may not be a viable possibility unless circulation of DENV in primate reservoirs can also be eliminated. While it’s possible that a vaccine may protect against slyvatic strains, I suppose that vaccination would have to be continued indefinitely to ensure that sylvatic strains do not, once again, spillover and transmit in humans.

As a final note, thanks for all your hard work. You have all mentioned the important role that mentorship plays in the lives of young scientists. I most wholeheartedly agree as I have had the pleasure of experiencing fabulous mentorship first-hand (in particular from Michael Emerman, quite possible in my unbiased opinion the world’s best grad school mentor). I also want to let you know that I and others consider Team TWiV mentors and tremendous ones at that. Thanks for all your candid scientific and career advice and for putting your passion for science on display on a weekly basis. As I contemplate the my next step in my career, I look to TWiV to keep me up-to-speed on what is new in virology and appreciate your collective wisdom regarding careers in science. I consider TWiV a valuable resource.

Pick of the week: The Facts in the Case of Dr. Andrew Wakefield

thanks and keep up the good work,


*former postdoc of Eva Harris and PhD student of Michael Emerman and Harmit Malik. currently teaching virology to bright postbac students at UC Berkeley Extension and plotting my next move…

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2 comments on “TWiV 237 letters

  1. Ramon Mendoza Jun 17, 2013

    I whole heatedly agree with Molly. Michael was on my thesis committee and I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor/scientist to help guide me through my graduate career at Fred Hutch. And a special shout out to Julie Overbuagh who did most of the heavy lifting in getting me through grad school as well.

    Ramon Mendoza, PhD.