Israeli Virologist Working on Ebola Cure Calls


Ebola_jpg“The world has been asleep for 50 years regarding infectious diseases and Ebola is the wake-up call,” said Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) Professor Leslie Lobel, one of the few virologists worldwide who has been focused on Ebola, Marburg and other infectious diseases emanating from Africa.

According to Dr. Lobel, “Fifty years ago, we were dealing with eradicating polio, smallpox and yellow fever, which had similarly high mortality rates.  Today, most of the world seems to understand the need to screen passengers in airports using infrared cameras for elevated temperature as a simple precaution.  The U.S. is lagging behind.”

While he believes fear is traveling faster than the virus, he is concerned that hospital personnel do not have enough experience dealing with hazmat suits and should be practicing protocols before they are called on to treat a patient.  “It’s just a matter of time before New York City has to handle a case,” he said.

Dr. Lobel co-director, of the BGU Laboratory of Immunovirology will be speaking on “The Search for a Cure” and his work with survivors of Ebola in Uganda at a November 6 event in the U.S.  The event, which takes place at 7 p.m. at the Hotel Beacon, 2130 Broadway, in New York, is sponsored by the American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev Greater New York Region.  He will be in the U.S. to meet with other consortium partners to discuss progress in developing vaccines at a meeting in San Diego, on November 4.

Dr. Leslie Lobel’s research focuses on the immune system’s response to viral disease and the production of antiviral therapeutics.  Dr. Lobel recently received a $1.2 million five-year National Institutes of Health grant to as part of a consortium to create a center dedicated to finding a serum that combats two hemorrhagic fever viruses, including Ebola.  The grant will help Dr. Lobel isolate those antibodies, while his team reproduces them for testing in animals.  Before moving to Israel from New York, Dr. Lobel earned an M.D. and Ph.D. in virology from Columbia University.

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