The Gordon Wilson Lecture: viruses and human disease.

G. J. Nabel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In many ways, Ebola virus infection provides a model for understanding the toxicity of viruses and their causal role in human disease. The highly aggressive course of Ebola virus infection provides a model for understanding the molecular mechanisms of viral cytotoxicity. In addition, the use of animal models and definition of immune correlates, which lead to protection, may provide lessons that are applicable to other viral infections. Perhaps the greatest challenge facing biomedical science today is the containment of the human immunodeficiency virus, the causative agent of AIDS. In many ways the critical obstacles to the development of a vaccine for HIV are similar to those observed with Ebola virus infection. Because the reservoir of infection is not known and human-to-human spread has been documented, vaccines may provide the best opportunity to contain and limit the spread of infection worldwide. Similar to Ebola virus, there are few convincing examples of immune resistance of HIV infection. In addition, it has been difficult to identify broadly neutralizing antibodies that can prevent infection in vitro or in vivo. In defining immune correlates, relevant animal models, and mechanisms of cytotoxicity, it is hoped that similar efforts may lead to effective vaccines for other infectious diseases. In this way, Ebola virus infection provides a useful paradigm for understanding the genetic determinants of viral disease and in facilitating the development of treatments and prevention of viral infections.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalTransactions of the American Clinical and Climatological Association
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


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