From the Field

Global Virus Chasers

From Addis Ababa, Ethiopia — Like Kate Winslet and Laurence Fishburne in Contagion, doctors and scientists who travel the world fighting disease and preventing worldwide pandemics, known as zoonotic researchers, recently convened at the 1st International Congress on Pathogens at the Human-Animal Interface (ICOPHAI) on September 15-17, 2011 at the United Nations Conference Center in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

More than 350 delegates from 45 nations attended the Congress. Keynoters included internationally-respected speakers, including Dr. Lonnie King, Executive Dean of Health Sciences at The Ohio State University, addressing the issues “Confronting Infectious Diseases in an Interconnected World,” Dr. Maria Giovanni of the National Institute of Health, speaking on “NIAID and Global Health: Building Genomics Capacity,” and Dr. Cecil Czerkinsky of the International Vaccine Institute, speaking on the “Protection against Enteric Food- and Water-borne Infections in Developing Countries.”

“This zoonotic research is an issue of international security,” says Scott Johnson, Manager of NGOs at MTN Government Services, a managed satellite service company that provides satellite internet connectivity and VOIP connectivity to government, military and commercial customers in remote locations.

U.S. Space Mobile Communications provided Johnson with a Thuraya phone and IP terminal for demonstration at the Congress.”It blew them away when I showed the delegates the phone and IP and how the IP can be used to access the Internet from a totally remote location, sending and receiving data seamlessly. These satellite phones can provide the critical communications needed to close the gap between the detection and outbreak of a new strain of a potential pathogenic virus. The Thuraya IP has the capability to help prevent a pandemic.”

The Congress received overwhelming interest from scientists and doctors worldwide. The presentations are available on the ICOPHAI Website,

Dr. Wondwossen Gebreyes (right), Professor and Director, Global Health Programs, Ohio State University, and Chair of the ICOPHAI Congress in Ethiopia, and Scott Johnson (second from right) discuss the Thuraya IP with two distinguished delegates to the Congress, Dr. John Kaneene (left), Professor of Epidemiology, Michigan State University, and Dr. Hailu Kinde, Professor at the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System, San Bernardino Branch School of Veterinary Medicine University of California, Davis (second from left)