Experts at U.Va. Will Discuss Ebola Tuesday, as First Case is Reported In U.S.

October 03, 2014

Several experts on the Ebola virus, including a physician from hard-struck Liberia, will convene Tuesday at the University of Virginia for a panel discussion on the challenges posed by the outbreak, which has reached the United States.

“Multiple Perspectives on Ebola: Treatment in Liberia, Clinical Perspectives, Infrastructure and Context,” is taking place at noon in the third-floor auditorium of the Claude Moore Medical Education Building. Experts will be available to reporters at 1:30 p.m. at the conclusion of the program, which is free and open to the public. They can also comment on the Enterovirus 68 respiratory illness, which has been linked to four deaths and sickened hundreds of children in the United States this year.

Panelists include Christiana Koisey Hena, a front-line Ebola care-giver and founder of Healthy Women, Healthy Liberia, and Frederick G. Hayden, Stuart S. Richardson Professor of Clinical Virology and professor of medicine at U.Va. He served as a medical officer in the Global Influenza Program at the World Health Organization from 2006 to 2008.

The first U.S. case of Ebola was diagnosed this week in Texas. Thomas Eric Duncan was recently in Liberia visiting family and is said to be in critical condition in a Dallas hospital. Health officials say Duncan may have had contact with up to 100 people in the United States.

The panel will examine the biomedical, ethical, geopolitical and cultural challenges of the Ebola outbreak. The meeeting is co-sponsored by the School of Nursing, U.Va.’s Center for Telehealth, the Center for Global Health and the International Medicine Club.

The panel participants:

Dr. Christiana Koisey Hena, founder, Healthy Women, Healthy Liberia

Hena is a Liberian physician who has spent decades implementing successful community-based health care programs in Russia, Armenia, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan. She is now leading Liberian health care system reform through “Healthy Women, Healthy Liberia.” The program is being implemented by organizing communities to identify and implement preventive care programs unique to each community, with specific focus on improving maternal and infant health care, improving the nutritional status of women and children, restoring and maintaining community water and sanitation, and reducing the incidence of non-communicable diseases. She holds a medical degree from Kuban Medical College in Krasnodar, Russia, and a master’s degree in public health from Emory University. Hena is one of approximately 60 physicians who has been working in Liberia, directing a clinic since 2011. She is visiting the U.S. to share her perspective as a front-line care provider.

Dr. Frederick G. Hayden, Department of Medicine, Infectious Diseases and International Health, U.Va.

Hayden is the Stuart S. Richardson Professor of Clinical Virology and professor of medicine at U.Va. During 2006-08 he served as a medical officer in the Global Influenza Program at the World Health Organization in Geneva. From 2008-12 he was the influenza research coordinator of international activities at the Wellcome Trust in London. His principal research interests are respiratory viral infections, with a focus on the development and application of antiviral agents for influenza and rhinovirus infections. Hayden received his medical degree from Stanford University School of Medicine in 1973 and completed his clinical training in internal medicine and infectious diseases at Strong Memorial Hospital, University of Rochester, New York.

Judith White, Professor of Cell Biology, U.Va.

White is known for fundamental and original contributions to the understanding of the mechanisms by which viruses enter cells, and for significant contributions to the understanding of membrane fusion, the physical or chemical process by which cell membranes adhere to viruses or parasites. Past work has focused on mechanisms by which the fusion proteins of enveloped viruses mediate the critical process of virus-cell fusion, which introduces the viral genetic material into cells and initiates the infection cycle. Her current work is focused on understanding how the Ebola virus enters cells.

Catarina Krizancic, International Studies Office, Global Development Studies, U.Va.

A cultural anthropologist, Krizancic is the director of Cultural Orientation Reflection Engagement, a suite of seminars and courses designed to complement students’ global education. She also teaches global studies courses and coordinates and mentors undergraduate students doing fieldwork abroad.

China R. Scherz, Department of Anthropology, U.Va.

An assistant professor of anthropology, Scherz completed her Ph.D. in medical anthropology at the University of California at Berkeley/San Francisco in 2010. Her research, based in Uganda, explores how people construe and negotiate ethical problems related to health, development and religion. Her first book, “Having People, Having Heart: Charity, Sustainable Development, and Problems of Dependence in Central Uganda,” was published by University of Chicago Press in 2014. She is beginning a new project on alcohol use and abuse in Uganda.

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Jane Kelly

University News Associate Office of University Communications