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Rita Colwell

Environmental Sciences Seminar

DATE/TIME: Friday, September 8, 2023, 2:00 pm

Rita Colwell
University of Maryland College Park and Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health

Oceans, Climate, and Human Health: Predicting Cholera During Climate Change

The role of microorganisms as a driver of fundamental processes of climate, emerging infectious diseases, and human health is surprisingly extensive and extraordinarily complex. It is now clear that the human microbiome plays a significant role in health and well-being. But the global function of microbes is only beginning to be understood. A model for such study is cholera, a disease the causative agent of which is a bacterium whose home is the aquatic environment. Research has shown that this bacterium is native to the environment but also a deadly pathogen, particularly in lesser-developed countries. Next generation sequencing and bioinformatics of cholera patient microbiomes suggest cholera is best described as a polymicrobial infection, with Vibrio cholerae a key player. Extension of the findings from cholera to study of the microbiome offers new insight into infectious diseases, including COVID-19. Furthermore, satellite sensing coupled with computational modeling provides a powerful public health tool for predicting risk of pandemics. Such studies on cholera and COVID-19 make possible risk prediction for the current pandemics.

Seminar Host:
Alan Robock
Atmospheric Science Group, Department of Environmental Sciences, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, Rutgers University