On Wednesday, March 9th at 4pm PST Warwick's will host Dan Werb as he discusses his new book, The Invisible Siege: The Rise of Coronaviruses and the Search for a Cure, in conversation with Davey Smith. Dan Werb, PhD, is an award-winning writer and epidemiologist whose work has appeared in The New York Times, Salon, and elsewhere. He holds faculty appointments at the University of California San Diego and the University of Toronto.
The urgency of the devastating COVID-19 pandemic has fixed humanity's gaze on the present crisis. But the story of this pandemic extends far further back than many realize. In this engrossing narrative, epidemiologist Dan Werb traces the rising threat of the coronavirus family and the attempts by a small group of scientists who worked for decades to stop a looming viral pandemic.
When virologist Ralph Baric began researching coronaviruses in the 1980s, the field was a scientific backwater - the few variants that infected humans caused little more than the common cold. But when a novel coronavirus sparked the 2003 SARS epidemic, and then the MERS epidemic a decade later, Baric and his allies realized that time was running out before a pandemic strain would make the inevitable jump from animals to human hosts.
In The Invisible Siege, Werb unpacks the dynamic history and microscopic complexity of an organism that has wreaked cycles of havoc upon the world for millennia. Elegantly tracing decades of scientific investigation, Werb reveals how Baric's team of scientists hatched an audacious plan not merely to battle COVID-19 but to end pandemics forever. Yet as they raced to find a cure, they ran into a complicated nexus of science, ethics, industry, and politics that threatened to derail their efforts just as COVID-19 loomed ever larger.
The Invisible Siege is an urgent and moving testament to the unprecedented scientific movement to stop COVID-19--and a powerful look at the infuriating factors that threaten to derail discovery and leave the world vulnerable to the inevitable coronaviruses to come.
David "Davey" M. Smith, MD, MAS, is an infectious disease specialist and translational research virologist, and he has published over 300 scientific publications in these areas. He joined the UC San Diego faculty in 2003 and was promoted to full professor in 2012. In 2017, he was promoted to Head of the Division of Infectious Diseases and Global Public Health at UC San Diego. In 2010, Dr. Smith was named HIV Researcher of the Year by the HIV Medical Association, and he became the co-director and principal investigator of the San Diego Center for AIDS Research (CFAR) in 2016. Since the outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 in 2019, Dr. Smith has been engaged in the international effort to find safe and effective treatments. In particular, he is the international protocol co-chair for the ACTIV-2 treatment study, which is a part of the US government’s response to COVID-19 to find effective therapies for persons with early COVID-19.