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Ep68: Emma Hodcroft

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welcome to the long run. This is a podcast for biotech. Adventurers Time your host Luke Timmerman. Today's guest is Emma had crossed. Emma is a molecular epidemiologist at the University of Basel in Switzerland and the co-developer of neck strain next rain is the open source. Toolkit built for real time tracking a viral outbreaks in the early days teams led by Trevor Bedford at Fred Hutch and Richard Nair at Basel used it to track viral evolution of Ebola and Zico over time the resource has been adapted to study flu and now of course SARS covy to lots of questions remain about this new virus. It's brand new to science. But a of what we do know from the early days can be attributed to next string. This resource provides real time information on where community? Transmission of the virus is occurring where certain variations are coming from the estimated size and scope of the outbreak and what kind of effect our interventions may be having. It's tremendous treasure trove and the whole world is watching in this episode. Emma provides some very clear simple explanations of the basics viral family trees what we can learn from them and what kinds of things. She hopes to learn later this year before we dive in. I like to tell you about this sponsor of the long run rare sight. Rare sight delivers precision biology products and services for circulating Tumor Cell and Multi Plex Tissue Analysis designed to accelerate your cancer research rare sight leverage is a world class say design team and end to end platform with biomarker enabling technology to provide CTC essays that are rigorously validated for accuracy and reproducibility rare sight is the only full service provider delivering custom assay development services long-term bio banking of patient samples cleo validated. C. T. C. Enumeration multi biomarker analysis and single cell retrieval for DNA sequencing rare sight products for comprehensive. Cdc analysis include the Accu sight sample preparation system rare plex staining kits and sightfinder instruments all of which are easily deployed in research labs worldwide rare site currently supports a wide range of global clinical trials with deep expertise personalized service and short turnaround times. Keep your research on track by engaging the rare sight services team at Info at rare sight dot com or at rare sight dot com slash RC. And if you like listening to the long run you'll love reading Timmerman report go to Timmermann. Report DOT COM and hit. Subscribe for a year or three months. Now please join me and Emma Holcroft on the Laura Mahad Craft. Welcome to the long run. Hello thank you so much for having me I have to say I did a little bit of homework on you and I saw. You did a three minute thesis on Youtube and I have to say it was a real breath of fresh air. If everybody did a three minute thesis like that. I could watch a lot more of them. Well thank you very much. That was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed that and I think it really helped Helped me to learn how to communicate science a little bit better because there's nothing like a time limit to teach you how to condense things down to the main mess. Yes yes so. It's it's great to have you here on the podcast talking about your recent work with next strain and philology. Maybe the place to start is just. Why would anyone want to build these viral family trees or to do this kind of evolution of viruses To study that this is something that's built up kind of slowly over time as a growing field in particular because sequencing is just so much more available now than it ever has been so a lot of the early work in this field was done on. Hiv because people were really interested in knowing how HIV was spreading through different communities. And we were able to get short sequences out of HIV patients. Because it mutates so quickly we could actually use these to see how the virus was spreading between different people. Since then we've been able to move on to lots of different organisms to study how they change and move and different pathogens as they trace their way through populations with the current Krono virus. We are really interested in knowing how it is spreading around the world and while we can do this to some extent just from talking to people and from just seeing the number of tests that come up positive. We often might not be able to really pinpoint. When did this virus seem to arise or when did it seem to move from one country to another and with genetics? We have a really unique power to be able to answer some of these questions that also isn't determined by our ability to go out and talk to every single person with the virus which just isn't possible. Of course this is really interesting that tracking a viral. Evolution is kind of a product of the better faster cheaper sequencing instruments This is something that you just couldn't really practically do because viruses evolve so quickly right so it was a bit of a twofold problem One was just getting sequencing. Getting sequences was really difficult for a long time so it was technologically difficult and it was really expensive so you would only be sequencing pathogens where you knew or you really expected that there was some very concrete benefit to this and you needed to have some cohort of people that you were able to take a couple of samples in case it didn't work the first time and certainly it was really hard to do in people who only were transient. Louis infected so something like current events or flu. The only have for a few weeks so this is one reason why. Hiv worked while because people have it for their whole lives so we were able to get these samples. Okay so how did you first get involved in next rain I actually moved to Basel to come and work on next rain I had the great pleasure of sharing an office with Trevor Bedford before he was famous. I've said that for a while but I have to say now. He's really famous so I mean even before he was science famous he was doing a fellowship at the University of Edinburgh when I started my PhD and rather uncertain Mona's Lee. He was put into an office with a lowly student. That was me. But this means that I was aware of his work and his interest in visualizing data and trying to find better ways to see these associations between the sequences and different things that viruses are doing from that time so I that wasn't when he invented next rain but from following his work I knew about neck strain and when I saw an opportunity to come and work on it I was all in at the time. What was in there? Was it viruses like West Nile or a bola flu so next rain was originally founded to track flu because flu comes back every year and we actually have a pretty good network of people that sequence flu and provide the samples so he can see what different strains or a rising and we are part of the team that helps to choose the flu vaccine twice a year. Hopefully being able to do that better and better into the future But when I joined the team yes we had many other pathogens as well so we had Zeka and some samples from mumps and measles for example and the Ebola outbreak was something that we followed on next train and the current able outbreak uses next strain. As well so we've really been able to expand into lots of different viral pathogens lately which is Great. Our our platform is quite flexible and we can pivot quickly to cover new pathogens. Just like we've been able to do with the new corona virus now next rain. It's been in place for a few years. You had this partnership as well with the Seattle flu study which proved to be really important to the current outbreak. Can you talk a little bit about how things were set up between these two operations? I'm not part of the collaboration with the saddle. Flew steady myself. But you're exactly right that this is a super interesting story so we do have people that work both on next train and on the settle flu. Study just to give some background. The Seattle flu study is essentially a flu surveillance project. And what that means. They're just trying to better understand how flu moves through communities year after year. So they sent out a bunch of swamps to people. And if you felt like you had flu symptoms of a runny nose or a cough. You could swab yourself and have it sent in. And then we use those samples as kind of more random samples for what kind of flu spreading and how people are getting it. Different Times of the year now. What what really mattered recently is that there was an idea by the saddle flu that they should not only be testing those swabs for flu. But also for Corona virus and this was in the time we're getting krona virus test in the. Us was really difficult because the CDC guidelines were super strict so this made a big difference to be able to test essentially kind of random sample of the population that hadn't necessarily been to China or were in hospital and when they started testing those swabs. They did find positives now. The thing where genetics made a big difference here is that from just the positive test. You wouldn't know while maybe those people recently traveled to Italy or to China or somewhere else that was high risk at the time and so maybe they've just been imported back to Seattle but they haven't spread in the community by sequencing those samples. We saw that they were actually really close to each other. A lot of them were identical. And what that told us is that these haven't been imported from different places around the world where they look really different but it was spreading in the community of Seattle and that was major news at the time. Because it showed that yeah. This virus is spreading under our noses in the US and we need to start taking action. Yeah I want to come to that dramatic moment in a bit but I still want to know more about like the mechanics of how you're was. What the workflow looks like here? I'm imagining that. Sample gets taken the nasal swab. And maybe some of it goes to a pathology lab in some goes to you for the viral genomics. And then the all you upload your findings onto your open source website you computational biologists or looking for patterns. Can you talk a little? Bit of like how. How do you guys do your work? So this is an important point. Actually because we ourselves don't do any sequencing so next rain itself does not do any of the sequencing. We rely on other labs to take samples and to decide to do the sequencing the viruses. They've gathered and then to share those sequences openly. So what people around the world do is. They'll take their samples usually as you say combined with some kind of diagnostic and other testing setting. And they'll make a decision. Which of these they want to sequence. They'll do the sequencing themselves. And THEN THEY UPLOAD THEIR RESULTS. Just as computational file a long list of act g onto a database called. Gade gives aid is really important because it collected curates these samples and it makes them available to scientists like us. If we were collecting these directly from the labs. We'd have to be talking to. I think over four hundred laps at the moment so we wouldn't actually have time to do much else so we really appreciate that. There's one place that can do that coordination so that we can work with the results. We then check multiple times through the day to see if new SARS to corona viruses have been available and we download these and run them through our pipeline. Our pipeline does this looking for the tiny differences that can tell us whether sequences are more closely or more distantly related. And it makes these files netted trees. You can see so beautifully displayed on our website. We then check these and look for different signals or different things that might be interesting to help analyze the sequences and then make these public on our website. So you're really that central clearing house you're looking for the patterns the matches mismatches. How the virus might be moving around the world and it's really. It seems really important that you had this network in place with all those labs. I mean in Seattle being one but there's a whole lot of others that you were able to really flip the switch pretty quickly to pivot toward this current pandemics looking for that new SARS covy to sequence so a lot of this has actually happened organically which I think is one of the most inspiring things about this outbreak. So far is how well the scientific community has come together to tackle the virus so these labs a lot of them haven't contributed to give aid or two next rain before they've sought this out because they want to make sure they're contributing to the data that's helping to fight the virus however we next rain are really lucky that we were in a position to pivot so quickly. We've been really well funded for the past few years. We've been able to develop a code base that's flexible and modular so that we can easily adapt to any new organism. That comes our way. We're also really lucky that we're well funded enough that we have a big team or actually. We have a pretty small team but it's enough people to do the job. If we had any fewer people we'd really be struggling to keep up so it shows the benefit that we need to invest in this kind of stuff beforehand so that it's ready when we need it like now who refunded by so we're funded by core funding at the University of Basel in Switzerland. Which is where I work and at the Fred Hutch. Cancer Research Center. And there's also some prize money from winning an open science award for our visualizations a few years back but not a whole lot of NIH or philanthropy Not Not our core funding We do apply for grants. And I think that there's some in the works at the moment particularly to support current a virus. We've also done some work so the Seattle flu project is is funded by the bill and Melinda Gates Foundation And so some of this support. Some of our team members that work both on that an for next rain But in general we we've been really lucky to be well funded by the sources that we have got it gates foundation clearly understand the need track how pathogens of various stripes travel around the world because that will influence our response where to put our resources. What kind of testing and tracing needs to be done okay? Can you walk me through? That moment went in. I guess this would have been in February sort of like the holy shit moment when you all realize that you've been able to test these samples at random and the Seattle community and you can see there's been community transmission in the United States and it stretches back for something like at least six preceding weeks. We aren't too confident. In exactly how far the the sample stretch back but it certainly could be up to six weeks. I think for a lot of us. This wasn't necessarily as big of an Ocean Beaumont as it seems like it might have been because actually the data that we were getting from other countries in the samples that we were getting already. They've really pointed to the fact that I think we all would have would have been surprised if there wasn't sign of spread in the US already. It's a huge internationally connected country and from what we were seeing other countries. It just seemed really Improv Implausible that somehow the virus hadn't landed in the US. It seemed most likely that we just weren't detecting it. Because of the strict testing criteria so for us it was certainly still really surprising to see that we had evidence of this in Seattle. But I think that it wasn't quite as shocking as it might have been to the general public because we knew this virus was spreading. That quickly. Okay so you were a bit ahead of the rest of us. I would expected to be did you. When did you first get the sequence from China was in that in the January? Ten Eleven Range. Yes exactly so the first sequences came out from China. I think it was the tenth or eleventh of January and I'd like to point out that this actually set the precedent I think for this whole pandemic. We've never had any infectious disease where sequences have been shared this openly and this quickly before and I really think that what's made this one of the things that's made this. So different is the fact that scientists released the sequence so quickly it kind of set this expectation that okay. This is what we're going to do here. We're GONNA sequence and we're going to release those publicly and we're going to do it fast and since then we've had sequences pouring in every day. I referred to that Holy Shit moment in late February. I think this was a a blog. Post that Trevor wrote about community transmission in the United States. It's here stretches back several weeks That set off a lot of alarm bells for people. I would say that was like a big moment for next rain. Kind of emerging on the world scene. But you've made a whole bunch of other findings and you've published them quickly since then. What would you say some of those other big ruins have been for for your team? Yes so I do think that Seattle moment was really important in that it helped people may be directly understand some of the power of this viral genetics. And why it's important why we should do it but things like this is you say are not the only we've been able to discover so. I think that one of the most interesting things we were able to do is we had in. March a few samples from Australia. Canada England Germany. That had no connection. The people do not know each other. They had no connection at all except for their sequences. Were really close together on the tree which is interesting considering. These people seem to be otherwise totally unrelated from such different places. A few of the Australian samples had travel histories and we could see that they had been to Iran which we knew was having a huge outbreak at the time because the only thing that was similar in the selection of samples with some of them had been to Iran. We can actually conclude with a lot of confidence that the other people that link so closely together from totally different countries also had traveled to Iran or were infected by people who had traveled to Iran. So we were able to take a set of kind of unrelated samples in show that they all came from the big outbreak in Iran. The final thing that I think makes this really impressive. Is that at the time? We didn't have any samples from Iran. So we were actually able to learn a little bit about the Iran outbreak and how it was influencing the global outbreak from samples taken elsewhere that we knew must have come from Iran. And that's the kind of thing that would be really difficult to do without viral genetics and shows us the kinds of insights. We can get that. We wouldn't really be able to get any other way. Rare sight delivers precision biology products and services for circulating Tumor Cell and Multiplex Tissue Analysis designed to accelerate your cancer research rare sight. Leverage is a world-class Essay design team. An End to end platform with biomarker enabling technology to provide C. T. C. essays that are rigorously validated for accuracy and reproducibility rare sight is the only full service provider delivering custom assay development services long-term bio banking patient samples clear validated. Cdc Enumeration Multi biomarker analysis and single cell retrieval for DNA sequencing rare sight products for comprehensive CDC analysis include the Accu sight sample preparation system rare plex staining kits and sightfinder instruments all of which are easily deployed in research labs worldwide rare site currently supports a wide range of global clinical trials with deep expertise personalized service and short turnaround times. Keep your research on track by engaging the rare sight services team at Info at rare sight dot com or at rare sight dot com slash. Rc Okay now. You brought up visualization earlier of now I I see these beautifully colored plots on the screen. I personally get a little bit dizzy looking at these things. Maybe I just don't know how to look at them. How do you look at them? And what what makes for a good visualization. The best way to look at the next rain. T. Sorry I'll start again so the next rain. Visualizations are a little bit dizzying. And it doesn't help that. We have so many samples now so that they kind of are all on top of each other in this beautiful rainbow of colors. The things you remember when looking at a tree is that the dots at the ends are the actual samples and we usually plot these at the sample date that they were connected. So on the X. Axis you can see. It's a calendar. And then what we've done is we've looked at the genetic sequences and then we've then tried to match up these dots by connecting them to their closest neighbors. And we do this between two sequences and then another sequence another sequence all the way back to the route so that we can see how the whole tree draws together in the main next rain view. The different colors are different countries around the world. So these help you show. How globally connected that tree is? I think that some of the things that really helped with next rain is the fact that it's so interactive so if you haven't tried really recommend to go on the website you can click on the circles to find out more about sample you can also click on the lines to zoom in on the tree and often that can help because then you're looking at a few less sequences and so you can get your head a little bit around what the structure is in how sequences are connected. You can also look at the map where we've tried to infer how the virus has spread over time between different countries. And you can do other things like changed the way the trees drawn or look at the mutations rather than the timescale. We've tried to make this really interactive and intuitive so that people can help to understand and access the information that we can produce from this genetic data. Now you use the word mutation. A lot of people here that and they kind of freak out and their mind goes into like sci-fi land about ill this turning into some you know bigger masters in it already is which but that's not really the way to think about it right. I mean you're looking for these subtle changes that can go one way or another in terms of its its once and it's It's infectiousness exactly so we tend to think of mutations a little bit like in the movie if the movie says something like the virus has mutated than you know that it's about to kill everyone but real-life is more boring but also safer so most mutations that a virus has actually have no impact on its function There's a good way to think of. It is like Typos. If I gave you document and it had a couple of typos you'd still be able to read it and the document would still mean the same thing. The second was likely scenario is that it's got too many typos and so it's just not readable at all and you're just going to throw it away so this is another thing that can happen with viruses is that they'll get a mutation but it's much easier to break something so it'll make the virus not work and it'll just die out. There are really rare occasions where a mutation might be functional but the exact impact of what this means is often very hard to say. And it's definitely not as straightforward as. We seem to get in the media. These can be little changes that might have a tiny effect on the virus. But that really don't translate into much of a clinical difference between how someone might have an outcome for example whether they live or die or how severe the diseases in general though with this virus. We haven't seen any signs that the mutations that happened change anything about the clinical outcomes of patients. So I don't think this is something people need to be worried about. Good to know okay so now as someone who looks at a lot of these files genetic trees of different viruses. Is there any like general pattern here with this one? That's that's just really different than the ones who used to looking at so apart from the number of samples and the timescale over which they've been collected. This virus is actually very similar to a lot of the other viruses. We've studied. I think maybe the surprises people a little bit because they feel like this viruses causing so much more trouble than ever before it must be behaving somehow different from other viruses but the main thing here is that for this virus none of us have ever seen it before so we have no immunity and it's spreading really quickly so those two things combined means that the virus is able to infect more of US however on a kind of virus level. It's behaving exactly the way that most pathogens do. It's mutating at the same rate as other krona viruses that we're familiar with and it's spreading through the population in a way that's not unfamiliar that we recognize from other pathogens. The good news is that that means that we're actually pretty well equipped to interpret these trees and to kind of see and understand what the viruses doing because we've looked at other viruses that behave very similarly but I think overall It's hopefully reassuring for people to know that there's not anything intrinsic about this virus far as genetics or its patterns that it's making is somehow different or alien. It's all things that we as people who study foul. Genetics are familiar with. And so we're able to interpret that information. Okay now as you scaled up. Imagine you must have had a whole lot of inbound interest peop- new kinds of collaborators. I mean I guess there's virology of course epidemiology but then there's like immunology and other people that what can talk just a little bit about the kinds of Moorehead's coming together around your your work and asking interesting questions so we've definitely never had a time where we've had this much interest in next rain as we have right now and that's really incredible and certainly something that we're super glad that we've been able to be so useful that it's attracted so many people we actually have worked with a few groups But mostly only in viral ISLA genetics. Because we don't tend to get the information for example that you would need to do virology or immunology or clinical studies so most of the samples come to us with pretty limited information so just the sample day the country in the location where it was taken and then maybe some information like age gender. But that's all and if you want to do a really detailed study you're going to need a little bit more information than that however neck strain really exist to pull this information together at a really high level to look at the big picture items and we are very careful that we don't want to kind of steal credit or steal the results from the teams who've actually gone to the trouble of getting these samples. Which often you know is non trivial especially for low and middle income countries. So we think it's really important that they retain that detailed information so that they can do studies that they can publish and credit for the work that they've done however we have had some great collaborations with places like California and of course the Seattle flu study and labs in Connecticut at Yale were. We've looked at the file. Genetic picture and how this even says might have spread within and around America so we're always excited to work with new groups to see what we can tell on those country level and global level pictures okay. You mentioned that you're pretty well funded and got a pretty good sized team. I you know you're you're sending out tweets in different languages. We'll presumably you got people who speak multiple languages. That's good are you. Suffering from any sort of bottlenecks or shortages like we hear about in other parts of the scientific enterprise. I think that we're pretty lucky because we have such a great team and we have enough team members to handle this but this has certainly been pretty crazy time for us. The amount of data that we're processing now is huge. It's thousands of sequences so we've had to really stay on top of our pipeline to make sure that we can make that run a fish efficient and happen in a few hours instead of days were also dealing with huge volumes of information that we're trying to get out as fast as possible. Normally you know delaying processing new files by a few days isn't really make a difference here or there. Now we're trying to get that information out in just a few hours. So we've had to make sure that we have good robust pipelines. That can be run by multiple people so that we can be pushing out all day long and all night long when we takeover in different time zones as well as that we've had to make some updates to our interface to make sure that it's as accessible and can support the amount of traffic that we get these days and as you pointed out we're working towards making our website better as far as being available in more languages. A lot of this has been thanks to the work of volunteers. Both the translators and people who volunteered code contributions to our open source platform so that we can make these changes as quick as we can homeless. Has Your website. Traffic surged since about January. So I actually haven't checked recently but I know that in the first month or so we were up like seven thousand percent and I know that are translations of our narratives and our narratives. Which are these weekly situation reports? We put out that kind of highlight. What's happened in the last week? In a either on a global scale or on a regional scale those get tens of thousands of hits every week so we really are reaching a huge audience. That's great how. How much time would you say that you and your colleagues spend on debunking some of the nonsense and misinformation? That's out there like I know. There was the one about the virus being in San Francisco back in November. This is something that unfortunately we've also had to adapt to and this is new for most of us because I don't think any of our work before now really had many conspiracy theories tied to it and now I would say that. Unfortunately it's a big part of our job so I would say that it varies a little bit. Depending on what conspiracy theory is kind of the hot topic of the week? But I'd say I spend at least a few hours every week. Trying to clamp down on misinformation unfortunately as neck strain itself has become more popular. We've also had our images taken out of context to provide a quote unquote evidence of some of these conspiracy theories by not accurately representing what they mean. This is really disappointing. But we've been lucky so far we've been able to explain to people how this is wrong and stop some of these but it is unfortunately a constant battle. What would you say if he can think ahead to the rest of the year? I know it's hard. Time is compressed these days but if you look at your research agenda for the rest of two thousand twenty. What's a couple of things that you really want to know? But you're not there yet. One thing that's going to be really interesting is being able to get some of the earlier samples if at all possible from the outbreak so we didn't most countries we think that the virus was there and circulating before authorities were testing for in a widespread way. So as I said earlier they were probably testing for high risk cases that maybe were coming back from China and had symptoms but they weren't doing much generalized population testing particularly if you didn't have symptoms because we didn't know how much Then that that you could have this NBA symptomatic or pre-symptomatic. So we too. We sorry so for example we might be able to get samples from things like the Seattle flew steady but they were operating elsewhere. So it's very normal. That people are taking samples tests for things like flu or other respiratory viruses if we're able to get a hold of those samples from January and February in the US in Europe. We might be able to get some more of those early importations of the virus. That would help us. Maybe understand a little bit better how this spread and maybe what routes did the virus find The most helpful for when it was spreading between different countries. I'm also hopeful that we'll be able to scale up just the number of samples that we have a lot of countries in Switzerland where I am. We only have about seventy samples right now. Which isn't enough to tell us very much all about the outbreak. But I think that it would be really informative to have a better understanding of our local outbreak here and I think that's true of a lot of countries so I'm hoping that sequencing in general will scale up a final point for that is how important this is. GonNa be four low and middle income countries. We've had amazing response. From lots of countries in Africa and South America and other places where traditionally sequencing might not be so accessible but they could really benefit from this technology. If they were able to scale up sequencing unfortunately in a lot of these countries the the money and the technology is not so readily available so I hope that these countries are still able to benefit from sequencing. It's more samples. More scale is not really a matter of like hypothesis. Driven Research Agenda. It's like you get more samples in more scale and like more things are going to present themselves to you. I think that's often how we work. Now that's not to say that we never have a hypothesis but free example would be very interesting to know if we can tell a little more about how the virus was introduced to the states and maybe which samples move between I at the moment. We probably would hypothesized California and maybe Washington but it would be great to have early samples to really show this for sure and kind of nail that down it would also be really interesting to see if we can understand how this spread around Europe we know that because of Europe's openness and kind of the Schengen zone where everyone moves and travel so freely. We know the virus spread really quickly but it would be great to have a little more resolution to understand how quickly and for example how much before we started. Testing was the virus there. At the moment we don't really have a good sense for that but with more samples we could maybe get a good idea of exactly when it arrived in Europe. Well that's another one of your findings or yours in your collaborators that the New York cluster was largely ceded from Europe right. Yes exactly so we that a lot of the York New York samples kind of nest within European samples which tells us these are transmissions from something. That was probably circulating in Europe then jumped to New York. It would be interesting to know if there were multiple jumps for example or or just one from the data. We have right now. It seems like there were multiple It seems like this virus spread so quickly that it probably actually went back and forth. Even Emma you mentioned low income countries and they don't always have the infrastructure in place to capture these sequences. Is there anything that you're doing now to Um to help with With increasing the moment of samples and the volume sequences that we can process from there so something. That really shocked me that I learned when we started working with. The current virus outbreak was that there were labs around the world. They have the expertise needed to sequence. They have samples ready and they have the equipment that you need to do sequencing. But they don't have funding to actually do the sequencing in science. All of our funds are put towards a specific project. Whatever were supposed to be doing so it's really hard to take money away to use it for something else even if it's a pandemic and this is even worse than low and middle income countries because they really don't have any money to move around. We've started an initiative with the Fred Hutch Institute where we're trying to raise money to help. Labs that are otherwise completely. Ready to start sequencing have the funds. They need so that they have the reagents and the other disposable kit to do these sequences this is really critical because a lot of these countries are still having their first few cases and sequencing can be really informative here so we're trying to raise kind of relatively small grants about twenty thousand dollars to send out to these labs so they can start sequencing straight away without having to wait for longer term funding by their governments. This kind of bridge funding should allow them to generate over one hundred sequences over the next few months and capture and share that vital information from sequencing from many countries around the world. Twenty thousand dollars is not a lot of money. And you're saying you can get one hundred sequences uploaded which is more than you currently have in all of Switzerland exactly so we could get countries in Africa and South America. For example online giving us real time sequencing and informing us about how the pandemic is spreading between these countries in these places for really not that much money and it could make a big difference to their response which everyone is concerned about. Okay last thing. I want to ask you a personal thing. You're sort of like five years into your post doc. You're part of this well known team. What's next for you? That's a good question. Unfortunately my position here at the University of Basel is formerly supposed to end November. So the future is certainly an uncertain thing for me at the moment. I am hopeful that that will be extended because of my normal work clearly has been totally put on the back-burner while we deal with corona virus. So I'm hoping to resume that what I was working on before it's something called enteroviruses d sixty eight which people might have heard of in the media. It's been a problem over the past four five years where it's been coming in autumn of even numbers years so fourteen sixteen eighteen. We expect another recurrence. This autumn and mostly it just causes a respiratory illness but in the last two years it's been more severe and it has also some children so it's been in the media for that we've been able to do really big studies on this. And we've uncovered some really interesting patterns about how this virus might be transmitting between children and adults. It would be great to continue this work but I think that the main message. This underscores is we've known about this entire Virus D sixty eight since nineteen sixty four but we never paid any attention to it because it just didn't seem like it was that important however now that sequencing is more available and now that we're able to gather up these huge databases. We're learning a lot from this virus even though it isn't a threat to most people what I'd really love to do is to study more of these kind of boring viruses. These viruses that comeback every few years that caused may be cold like symptoms. But we don't tend to study because we don't think they're a big threat to our health however things we learn from these viruses like how they spread and how they take advantage of differences in immunity. How they move between children and adults and how well vaccines working for how long these are things that can really be helpful to know and can influence our response when a pandemic hits but we need to do that research before we need it so. I would really like to see Increased funding in interest increased interest in creating long-term databases where we can study these boring viruses. So that they can show us so much more about how viruses work. So we'll be that much better prepared when the next pandemic comes. It's really a great point because we have this tendency to get alarmed about an outbreak in the middle of it like say a bowl of from years ago and then when it passes we kind of we all move on and we lose interest but that that kind of pattern makes us vulnerable. And so I'm really thankful that we've had funders with vision to invest in things like next rain in the Seattle flu study and a lot of things that are just ongoing efforts and supporting research like what you say into boring viruses might someday not be so boring. We ought to be ready for them. So we're out of time. Thank you so much for joining me today on the long run and thank you so much for having me. Thanks for listening to the Laura a production of Timmerman report. Peter Rosado of Ed step or media was the sound editor CNN episode.

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