By Wendy Sarubbi | June 24, 2021 8:14 am

College of Medicine microbiologist Dr. Salvador Almagro-Moreno, along with Laurene Tetard from the Department of Physics/Nanoscience Technology Center and Xiaohu Xia from the Department of Chemistry at UCF, are among a multidisciplinary group of early-career scientists selected to address the global threat to human health from animal-borne infectious diseases as part of a new initiative, Scialog: Mitigating Zoonotic Threats. 

In the era of COVID-19 and climate change, the potential of new strains of deadly microorganisms affecting humans is a critical world health problem. In response, the Corporation for Science Advancement (Scialog) recently selected fellows to create a think-tank that will advance research on emergent microbial threats and work to develop future vaccines.

The Scialog Fellows include early career chemists, biologists, physicists, computer scientists, veterinary scientists, epidemiologists and public health experts along with scientists from federal agencies who will address scientific challenges of global significance.

Dr. Almagro-Moreno was chosen because of his expertise on emergent marine pathogens, which are often overlooked when dealing with global health threats.

“In my lab, our research approach encompasses a mix of genomics, ecology and molecular biology to explain the drivers of pathogen emergence,” he said. The College of Medicine assistant professor and National Science Foundation CAREER awardee investigates the bacterial genetics and marine environments where new pathogens are most likely to develop, in particular on the Florida coast. This includes tracking outbreaks of Vibrio vulnificus, more commonly known as flesh-eating bacteria.

Dr. Almagro-Moreno has also followed the progression and eventual decline of cholera in South America and his findings were published in the Journal of Medical Microbiology and recognized by the World Health Organization.

The three-year fellowship will be facilitated by senior scientists from renowned universities including University of California Davis and Ohio State University. Sponsored by Research Corporation for Science Advancement  and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the three-year initiative will hold its first meeting Sept. 30 – Oct. 3, 2021, in Tucson, Arizona. 

“It is truly a great honor to be chosen to be part of this select group of scientists, particularly given the timeliness and relevance of this topic,” said Dr. Almagro-Moreno. “I believe that by gathering early career scientists from disparate backgrounds we can serve as a catalyst toward the development of novel approaches to understand pathogen emergence.”

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