By: Matthew Disler
Harvard Magazine, May 8th, 2017
To understand the outbreak of a disease like Zika, and ultimately to fight it, researchers must work on multiple levels. There are questions of molecules and chemical processes: how does the virus infect a cell, and what components provoke an immune response that can be harnessed for treatments and vaccines? On a larger scale, there are questions about populations. How does a pathogen discovered in Uganda spread from French Polynesia to Brazil and the Caribbean? How do families and individuals cope with infants born with complications from the disease, like microcephaly (an abnormally small head size) and neurological damage, whose lasting effects still have not been fully determined? Harvard researchers have already made strides at all of these levels, and, as North America prepares for another outbreak this summer, now seek to answer further questions.