Ariel Wirchnianski, C’13, is part of a team of international scientists whose research on a deadly virus similar to Ebola could help save thousands of lives. The deadly fever infection is called Lassa and is found primarily in West Africa. It causes an estimated 100,000 deaths annually and in March 2014 was diagnosed in an individual in the U.S. Wirchnianski works in the virology lab at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Maryland.
Wirchnianski, along with three other team members studied the way Lassa virus infects healthy cells. They discovered the virus uses a two-step process when attacking the healthy cells. Their work confirmed similar studies by scientists at the Netherlands Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, and the University of Kiel in Germany and their findings were recently published in the prestigious journal Science.