Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, Infectious Disease Specialist, on COVID-19

What is a virus? How do viruses behave? Why is this one—which has disrupted life on a global scale—so pernicious? How, exactly, is this microscopic, infectious agent causing a pandemic the likes of which the world hasn’t seen in 100 years? And how do we stop it?

On September 10, Roxbury Latin virtually welcomed Dr. Nahid Bhadelia to answer some of these questions, as our first Hall speaker of the year. Dr. Bhadelia is an infectious disease physician; an associate professor at the Institute of Human Security at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy; and the director of the Special Pathogens Unit at Boston University School of Medicine. She serves on national and interagency groups focused on medical countermeasures—the intersection between public health preparedness, research, and clinical care for emerging pathogens. Her research focuses on identification of safe and effective clinical interventions and infection control measures.

In Hall, Dr. Bhadelia shared with students and faculty the science of COVID-19, and of viruses in general. She broke COVID-19 down to the cellular level, so that all of us could better understand the biological facts and intricacies of our current moment. She spoke about Zoonoses (infections that jump from animals to humans), the SARS family of viruses, and the many reasons that there exists increasing risk of emergence and spread of infectious diseases—climate change, population increase, globalization of trade, and travel. As we are all inundated with COVID news and updates, Thursday’s Hall was a helpful moment for us all to be educated about, or reminded of, the medical reality of this outbreak and the ways in which we can help to control and limit its spread.

During the West African Ebola epidemic, Dr. Bhadelia served as a clinician in several Ebola treatment units, working with the World Health Organization and Partners in Health. She currently serves as the clinical lead for a joint US-Ugandan effort to combat viral hemorrhagic fevers in Uganda at the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo. She has served as a subject matter expert to the CDC; the Department of Defense; the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; and the World Bank. She is a regular medical contributor on MSNBC and was featured this spring on the PBS NOVA program “Decoding COVID-19.”

On September 17 we will welcome Dr. Galit Alter, Professor of Medicine at the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard, who will continue the conversation about COVID-19 in a Part II Hall, focused on immunology and vaccines.

View the entirety of Dr. Bhadelia’s Hall presentation.