Internationally Respected Publication Cites Dr. Ilaria Capua as One of the Most Extraordinary People of the Year
[Philadelphia, PA, December 19, 2012] – The University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine (Penn Vet) recently learned that former Penn Vet honoree Ilaria Capua, DVM, PhD, continues to garner recognition as a worldwide leader in the field of avian influenza, most recently being named one of the “Most Extraordinary People of 2013” in The Economist’s “The World in 2013” edition.
In 2006, Dr. Capua revolutionized the fight against avian influenza, choosing not to deposit the genetic sequence of the first African strain of H5Ni into a private database. Instead, Dr. Capua deposited it into the publicly available GenBank. Her strong stance on data sharing ignited the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GASAID), which has since been endorsed by 70 medical and veterinary virologists and six Nobel laureates.
It was this visionary thinking on Dr. Capua’s part that led Penn Vet to award her with the 2011 Penn Vet World Leadership in Animal Health Award, widely considered one of the most prestigious awards in the veterinary medicine world. In particular, her decision to share avian influenza virus sequences enabled a better understanding of animal and human influenza infections using a multidisciplinary approach.
This has become a key part of the global influenza preparedness strategy, and directly mirrors Penn Vet’s focus on “Many Species, One Health,” which speaks to the fact that animal disease control and prevention has significant ramifications for the health of the human population.
“It is absolutely no surprise that Dr. Capua’s tireless fight to share information, leading to better treatment of avian influenza, has been recognized by a publication as well-respected as The Economist,” stated Dean Joan C. Hendricks, VMD, PhD, the Gilbert S. Kahn Dean of Veterinary Medicine. “We recognized early on that her work would have enormous implications for both animal and human health, and were thrilled with her altruistic decision to share the influenza data widely, putting treatment over profit.”
“The World in 2013,” published annually, provides a look into the year ahead and identifies the most significant trends and people in the world. In addition to being named one of the most extraordinary people of 2013, Dr. Capua is included in a section of the publication titled, “Tomorrow’s Italy.” Epitomizing the virtue “Tolerance”, the publication states that she “shocked the veterinary world when she decided to share avian-flu virus strains, samples and sequences, a crucial step towards a worldwide surveillance and control strategy for the disease.” It also cites her tireless campaign for the rights of Italian women, only 47% of whom work outside the home.