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Understanding a Common Birth-Defect Virus

congenital CMV research and public awareness
September 22nd, 2016
12:00 PM


Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016

11:45 p.m. - 1:15 p.m.

Forum for Scholars and Publics (Old Chemistry Building Room 011)

(For those coming from the Medical Center, note that Old Chem is on Davison Quad. If you enter Old Chemistry through the main doors facing Davison Quad, you will need to take the stairs or elevator at the left end of the hallway. Our seminar room is in the basement, at the end of the building nearest Perkins Library & the Chapel.)

Light lunch served at noon. Discussion will begin at 12:15.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), congenital cytomegalovirus (cCMV) is the most common viral cause of birth defects and developmental disabilities in the US. It can cause permanent disabilities, such as deafness, blindness, cerebral palsy, mental and physical disabilities, seizures, and death. CMV can cause symptoms at birth or months or years later, and it is found all over the globe. However, very few women are counseled about the virus by their OB/GYNs, who themselves sometimes are not aware of the widespread nature of the virus and its potentially devastating impact. With the recent international focus by public health officials and policy-makers on the Zika virus, cCMV researchers, medical practitioners, and activists are working to raise awareness of risks and prevention of cCMV and support for research for vaccines and treatments.

Dr. Kathleen Muldoon, Ph.D., and Dr. Sallie Permar, M.D., Ph.D., will lead us through a discussion of cCMV. What is it? How can it be prevented? What is its impact on families and communities? What are common misunderstandings? What are the latest developments in the search for vaccines and treatments?

The discussion will be moderated by Dr. Brian Southwell.

Kathleen Muldoon

Midwestern University

Dr. Muldoon received her PhD in anthropology from Washington University in St. Louis. She currently holds the position of Associate Professor of Anatomy at Midwestern University, Glendale, AZ, where she teaches anatomy and embryology to medical and allied health students. Dr. Muldoon maintains several distinct areas of scholarly research. She is a paleontologist, involved in several projects that investigate lemur ecology, evolution, and extinction in Madagascar. She is also an anatomy education scholar, with interest in the effectiveness of teaching innovations on retention of material and public health knowledge. Her research interests include evaluating methods for prevention of congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection through professional education, and promotion of CMV awareness and behavioral interventions in the community. Dr. Muldoon's research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Geographic Society, and the American Philosophical Society, among others. She has given research seminars and community outreach workshops nationally and internationally, and her work has been featured on National Public Radio. Dr. Muldoon is the proud mother of three children: her three-year-old son has multiple disabilities due to congenital cytomegalovirus.

Sallie Permar

Duke University

Dr. Permar is a physician scientist focusing on the prevention and treatment of neonatal viral infections.  She leads a research laboratory investigating immune protection against vertical transmission of neonatal viral pathogens, namely HIV and cytomegalovirus (CMV), using human cohorts and nonhuman primate models.  Dr. Permar has made important contributions to the development of vaccines for prevention of vertical HIV transmission, defining both innate and adaptive immune responses that are associated with protection against infant HIV acquisition.  Moreover, Dr. Permar is leading the development of HIV vaccine strategies in maternal/infant nonhuman primate models and clinical vaccine trials in infants. Dr. Permar has also contributed to understanding the immunology of perinatal CMV transmission and the pathogenesis of postnatal infection in preterm infants.  Dr. Permar developed the nonhuman primate model of congenital CMV infection and uses this model for defining the immune correlates of protection against CMV transmission and vaccine development. 

Dr. Permar has a PhD in Microbiology/Immunology from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, an M.D. from Harvard Medical School and completed her clinical training in pediatric infectious diseases at Children’s Hospital in Boston.  She has received several prestigious early-stage investigator awards, including the Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering (PECASE) and the Society for Pediatrics Research (SPR) Young Investigator Award.

Brian Southwell

Brian Southwell is Director of the Science in the Public Sphere Program in the Center for Communication Science at RTI International. In addition, Dr. Southwell is an Adjunct Professor at Duke University, where he teaches social science courses. (This fall, he is teaching PUBPOL 290S.06/PJMS 290S.06/DOCSTUD 290S.06, the Social Science Radio Workshop). He also is Research Professor (of Mass Communication) and Adjunct Associate Professor (of Health Behavior) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Before moving to North Carolina, Dr. Southwell served the University of Minnesota as Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in Journalism and Mass Communication with an appointment in Public Health. Dr. Southwell's contributions appear in more than 90 journal articles and chapters. In 2013, Johns Hopkins University Press released Dr. Southwell's book, Social Networks and Popular Understanding of Science and Health, which has been widely reviewed, e.g., in Science, and was recognized as an outstanding publication in 2015. He has served as senior editor for Health Communication and as editorial board member for a variety of other editorial boards. He also hosts WNCU's The Measure of Everyday Life, a public radio show about social science.