Dr. Andy Mehle was recently awarded a NIH RO1 grant titled, “Mechanisms of influenza transmission bottlenecks: impact on viral evolution.” The grant’s Lead Principal Investigator is Dr. Tom Friedrich from the Department of Pathobiological Sciences.
Avian in uenza viruses like H5N1 and H7N9 do not frequently infect humans, but when they do, they cause serious disease and death. So far, such viruses have not evolved the ability to be easily transmitted between humans, but if they do, they could cause a major pandemic. We have shown that in uenza virus transmission between mammals is associated with a drastic reduction in viral genetic diversity—a bottleneck. This project aims to understand the viral and host factors that in uence this bottleneck and determine how bottlenecks a ect the ability of in uenza viruses to jump from from birds to mammals.