My research interests include both basic and applied research on the topic of emerging and re-emerging viral diseases in humans, livestock, and wildlife. Emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases are a major public health concern and cause considerable socioeconomic problems worldwide. Over 30 new infectious pathogens have been detected worldwide in the last three decades and most of these emerging and re-emerging pathogens are viruses. Mostly unpredictable, emerging and re-emerging infection outbreaks occur at an unprecedented and unrelenting pace, due to social and environmental factors and microbial evolution, such as population growth, urbanization, deforestation, livestock production, climate change, and pathogen mutation. Because of their high mutational rate and adaptability to changing environments, including host switch, RNA viruses are among the most frequent causes of such emerging diseases.
Most emerging viruses originate from animal reservoirs and spillover to humans, allowing them to adapt further to humans. Noticeable examples of viruses that have jumped the species barrier include human immunodeficiency virus, avian influenza virus, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and Middle-East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), Ebola virus, Marburg virus, Nipah virus and Hendra virus, Lassa virus, Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever virus, Rift Valley fever virus, Dengue virus, Chikungunya virus, Kyasanur forest disease virus, Japanese encephalitis virus and Zika virus.
Timely recognizing the pathogen and quarantining the infected patient or reservoir species will aid in preventing and controlling the spread of a virus. Therefore, there is a need for preparedness to tackle outbreak situations. My objective is to improve preparedness, prediction, and prevention of emerging zoonotic viruses using multidisciplinary approaches. My objective is to generate new knowledge and technology to; (1) provide science-based solutions to emerging viral diseases, (2) understand the pathogenesis of emerging viruses in susceptible animal species, (3) determine sources of disease outbreaks through molecular epidemiology (4) understand the mechanisms of host switching of zoonotic viruses, and 5) develop vaccines.