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Early-Career Scientist from the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine Named 2024 Pew Biomedical Scholar

By: Martin J. Hackett Date: Jun 18, 2024

Louise Moncla, PhD, named School’s first Pew Scholar

June 18, 2024; PHILADELPHIA, PA – The Pew Charitable Trusts has named Louise Moncla, PhD, an assistant professor of Pathobiology at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine (Penn Vet), a 2024 Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences.

For 39 years, The Pew Charitable Trusts has encouraged scientific discovery by supporting rising, early-career biomedical scientists who are advancing medical innovation. The 2024 Pew Scholars in the Biomedical Sciences were chosen from 198 applicants nominated by leading researchers and academic institutions throughout the United States. They join a community of more than 1,000 scientists who have received awards from Pew since 1985.

Louise Moncla, PhD 
Louise Moncla, PhD,

Moncla and her lab study how viruses evolve to infect new species and how factors like ecology, geography, and contact patterns impact virus transmission in human and animal populations.

Moncla will receive four years of funding to examine highly pathogenic H5Nx avian influenza viruses. Avian influenza viruses naturally circulate in wild, migratory birds, but can become endemic in domestic bird populations, where they facilitate sporadic human infections. When humans are infected with these viruses, case fatality rates can be as high as 60%.

“I am immensely grateful and deeply honored to be named a Pew Scholar, as this will allow me and my lab to further investigate avian influenza, and more broadly, the complex mechanisms of zoonotic pathogen transmission; their reservoirs, and the ecological and evolutionary factors that facilitate their emergence and spread,” said Moncla. “It is my hope that the funding through the Pew Scholars Program will enable us to discover the basic underpinnings of avian influenza zoonosis that will one day allow us to expand disease surveillance, improve our predictive models, and inform strategies for disease prevention and control.”

“The Pew Charitable Trusts’s recognition of Dr. Moncla’s work is a testament to her exceptional contributions and dedication to advancing our understanding of diseases that bridge the animal-human interface,” said Igor Brodsky, PhD, Robert R. Marshak Professor and chair of the Department of Pathobiology. “This honor both acknowledges Dr. Moncla’s achievements and supports the promise of her future discoveries that will shape the landscape of disease prevention and public health. Her commitment to scientific scholarship and public health advocacy is an inspiration to not only her colleagues, but to the next generation of biomedical researchers.”

“Pew believes that supporting promising early-career researchers is key to scientific innovation, and for nearly 40 years our scholars have helped change the world; creating lifesaving therapies and responding to emerging health crises around the globe,” said Donna Frisby-Greenwood, Pew’s senior vice president for Philadelphia and scientific advancement. “This class of Pew scholars is no different. We are proud to support these scientists and look forward to watching where their research takes them.”

Read more about Dr. Moncla and her work.