NIH-R21 Viral Spillover

Funding Agency: National Institutes of Health, USA
PI: Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, USA
Dates: June 2021-May 2023

The goal of this proposed project is to harness the collective power of bioinformatics, artificial intelligence (AI), and ecology to transform our understanding of taxon-specific zoonotic risk. The transmission or ‘spillover’ of wildlife viruses to humans is a critical threat to global health, with major outbreaks of viral pathogens, including filoviruses, paramyxoviruses, and coronaviruses, originating in wild mammals.

Unfortunately, the data required to determine whether certain taxonomic groups (such as bats) are host to a broader diversity of viruses with zoonotic potential than other taxa are problematic, lacking, or otherwise disconnected.

The research proposed herein (in response to PA-19-068, Secondary Analysis of Existing Datasets for Advancing Infectious Disease Research) takes an innovative approach that will enable the liberation of knowledge even from variable, incomplete, and sometimes uncertain data. Improved risk estimates will focus future viral surveillance studies on those taxa with the greatest zoonotic potential. Thus, rigorous estimates of taxon-specific zoonotic risk should be a top priority of infectious disease research. more