Give the World | Science Stories | Scientists
Discoveries to get ahead of future viruses 

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus proclaimed that the COVID-19 pandemic is “easily the most severe” emergency ever declared since International Health Regulations were put in place following the 2002-04 SARS outbreak.   

Still, Weizmann researcher Dr. Noam Stern-Ginossar in the Department of Molecular Genetics believes that more complicated problems have been solved in the past. The challenge in solving these problems is that it takes time.  

Dr. Stern-Ginossar studies how viruses invade healthy cells and take over the cell’s systems to survive and reproduce. Her earliest discovery was on herpes, which was selected by the journal Nature Medicine as one of the notable scientific advances of 2007.   

Building on her previous work, Dr. Stern-Ginossar’s lab is applying an innovative technique called ribosome profiling to reveal the “what, when, where, and how” of protein production to understand more about viruses.  

This innovative method, and the insights it provides, may help us to understand the full extent of viral proteins to counteract them effectively through the development of future anti-viral treatments.  

A virus is not a living organism, but rather genetic material surrounded by a protein coat that hijacks healthy cells in our bodies. When they infect a cell, viruses take over that cell’s protein-making machinery, causing it to produce more viral proteins to spread to other cells.   

What would your world look like if scientists didn’t study viruses? 

Much progress has been achieved in the last century in the treatment and mitigation of infectious diseases, primarily due to the development of antibiotics and vaccines, which have saved the lives of millions and increased global life expectancy. Through similar research, future viruses could also see similar fate.  

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