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BROADMINDED BLOG

Blog / 09.2.14

Ebola update: New research sheds light on origin, transmission of Sierra Leone outbreak

By Haley Bridger
Researchers from the Broad Institute have been working with a team of international collaborators to collect samples, rapidly sequence genomes, and share data in order to accelerate response efforts to the ongoing outbreak of Ebola in West Africa. The team’s efforts culminate with a paper published...

Researchers from the Broad Institute have been working with a team of international collaborators to collect samples, rapidly sequence genomes, and share data in order to accelerate response efforts to the ongoing outbreak of Ebola in West Africa. The team’s efforts culminate with a paper published online in the journal Science, but the story of their research and collaboration stretches back many years.

Broad senior associate member Pardis Sabeti and her lab began working with collaborators in Sierra Leone in 2009 to study Lassa fever – a hemorrhagic disease with many devastating properties similar to Ebola. When the 2014 outbreak of Ebola began in Guinea, members of the lab offered supplies and technical support to their colleagues in Sierra Leone and Nigeria to help them diagnose Ebola should the virus cross the border. When Sierra Leonean collaborator Augustine Goba performed the first positive diagnostic test on May 25, the team sprung into action. Working around the clock, researchers at the Broad sequenced the genomes of 99 Ebola samples. Rather than wait for publication, the team opted to release its data so that others could immediately apply the findings in their research.

You can read about what those genomes revealed in a Broad press release and hear the authors describe their work in their own words in the video below.

For coverage of this important story, check out articles in the Boston Globe, New York Times, the AP, and more; to see photos of Sierra Leone taken by the researchers, check out a slideshow from the LA Times.