Thursday, Mar. 29, 2012

Ron Fouchier

Age: 45
Occupation: Scientist, Erasmus Medical Center, the Netherlands

The specter of a superbug emerging from some terrorist faction or a chance mutation arising from common viruses hovers over us constantly. But what if the source is neither nature nor a terrorist but a respectable scientist? Fouchier generated a virulent form of H5N1 influenza easily transmissible between ferrets, which led U.S. biosecurity agents to halt publication of the details of his work. Fouchier stopped his research but argues that only full disclosure of scientific inquiries will help us better understand potential superbugs.