When Moderna wanted to check if its COVID-19 vaccine would work against the new strains emerging in England and South Africa, it again turned to the revolutionary work of a researcher at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.
Michael Whitt, Associate Dean of the Office of Medical Education in the College of Medicine and Professor of Microbiology, Immunology and Biochemistry, developed and patented a reverse genetics system in the 1990s that allows researchers to study highly pathogenic viruses under standard biosafety level 2 containment. Such systems allow companies developing vaccines or conducting research on viruses like Ebola to reduce risks to its workers. In addition, Whitt used his research to develop ways to infect and kill cancerous cells without harming healthy cells.
Click here to learn how Whitt and his team stepped-in when the new strains of COVID emerged.