December 17, 2014, Washington, D.C. – Iranian American and award-winning computational geneticist at Harvard University, Pardis Sabeti, along with other Ebola fighters, were named TIME magazine’s 2014 Person of the Year. The Ebola fighters were chosen for their bravery and stepping-up during a time when many others were reluctant to do so.
A contagious disease, Ebola has stricken the native populations of west Africa as well as the health-care workers who treat Ebola patients. The Ebola fighters have been critical in combating the epidemic by risking their lives to treat Ebola patients and researching innovative solutions to fight the disease.
Sabeti first became intrigued by the Ebola virus after reading The Hot Zone. “It’s the type of thing you either read and say, “Oh wow, that’s terrifying,” or you read it and say, “Oh wow, I want to do that.” I read it and said, “Oh wow, I want to do that,” Sabeti explained in an interview with TIME.
In the first three weeks following the recent Ebola outbreak, Sabeti sequenced 99 samples from 78 west African patients. Her research tracked the mutations of the virus and determined that the disease was not being transmitted by animal contact, but rather human-to-human contact. The discovery gave a much needed boost to the containment strategy of the Ebola virus and helped develop treatments and vaccines for Ebola victims.
Sabeti explained how critical it is to continue sequencing the Ebola genome as the virus continues to mutate. “We need as many minds working on this important problem as we can have. We will only beat this virus together,” said Sabeti.
PAAIA applauds Sabeti and the Ebola fighters for their courageous contributions towards eradicating the deadly Ebola epidemic.
Click here to view PAAIA’s video profile of Pardis Sabeti.
Click here to read TIME’s 2014 Person of the Year 2014.