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Preparing for Tomorrow’s Pandemics Today | Carolina Science Cafe

October 3, 2023 @ 6:00 pm 7:00 pm

About the Program:

Join us on the first Tuesday of every month for Carolina Science Cafe, Morehead Planetarium and Science Center’s free, current science awareness program. For this month, we will be joined by Dr. Timothy Sheahan to explore preparing for tomorrow’s pandemics today with broad-spectrum antivirals.

Designed for adults, this program explores the science topics making national and international headlines and offers the chance to meet the experts behind the headlines. Please note the Carolina Science Cafe will be moving to a new location at Haw River Tap & Table in Carrboro for the foreseeable future.

Being a virologist is a lot like being a detective. Constantly problem solving and trying to stay one step ahead of the next villain. Viruses are found all over the world and they affect everyone everywhere they go. We never know when or what virus will emerge next, but Dr. Tim and his team will be ready for the challenge.

During this cafe we will discuss questions like:

  • What is a virus and how do we get sick?
  • How and why antiviral drugs are made?
  • How long is the drug development process?
  • How do we learn about viruses that we have not even found yet?

What can we do to prepare for tomorrow’s pandemics today? Broad-spectrum medical countermeasures that are effective against all the Coronaviruses known today will likely work against future emerging Coronaviruses. Thus, the development of broadly acting medical counter measures is key to our future pandemic preparedness.

About the Speaker:

Dr. Sheahan is an NIH funded virologist working at the host pathogen interface to develop new methods of viral control. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in Microbiology from the University of New Hampshire in 1999, he moved to Boston to try to make a career in punk rock music but soon realized that he enjoyed pipetting more than playing guitar. In 2003, he began his graduate training at UNC Chapel Hill with Dr. Ralph Baric focusing coronavirus (CoV) spillover and the design broadly acting vaccines and therapies. After postdoctoral studies on hepatitis C virus (HCV) in the laboratory of 2020 Nobel Laureate Dr. Charles M. Rice at the Rockefeller University, he became an Investigator at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) working to develop host targeting antivirals to treat acute respiratory infections. Tim became an Assistant Professor in the Department of Epidemiology in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health in 2015.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sheahan and colleagues generated preclinical proof-of-principle data that remdesivir and molnupiravir were broadly active against the CoV family suggesting these antivirals could be employed to treat future emerging CoV. This work helped accelerate the clinical testing of these antivirals in early 2020. Sheahan is currently working to develop broad-spectrum inhibitors of emerging CoV and is also developing mouse models of chronic hepacivirus infection within which to study the effect of antiviral therapy on the development of liver disease and cancer.

Sheahan has been active in communicating the importance of antivirals during the pandemic on television and print media including a feature in GQ Magazine. Three new human CoV have emerged in the past 20 years. Thus, the development of broadly acting therapies for CoV will remain of focus of Dr. Sheahan’s research to be better prepared for tomorrow’s pandemics, today.

Designed for adults, this program explores science topics making national and international headlines and offers the chance to meet the experts behind the headlines. The Carolina Science Café will be hosted at Haw River Tab & Table in Carrboro on Tuesday, October 3rd, starting at 6:00 p.m. with light appetizers available for all attendees.

Carolina Science Cafe is produced by Morehead Planetarium and Science Center and sponsored by the UNC Chapter of Sigma Xi.

You do not need to register…just show up!


Morehead Planetarium and Science Center

Haw River Tap & Table

300 E Main St C, , NC 27510
Carrboro, North Carolina 27510 United States
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(919) 391-6788
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